I wonder whether it’s worth bringing up his name again.
Ward Churchill is a disgrace. It’s something of a shame that his firing became a cause célèbre, because this is a man who would probably deny to others, if he could, the academic freedom he so loudly demands for himself. Still, freedoms are not meant to be granted only to the well-behaved. A jury is convinced that Churchill was fired for exercising a First Amendment right.
The jury awarded him — shrewdly, I thought — one dollar in damages.
Now, as Gary Kamiya reports at Salon.com, another judge will decide whether Churchill is entitled to further recompense from the university that dismissed him. Whatever the outcome, I agree with Kamiya’s assessment of the damage that Churchill has done to American Indian studies:
To put it mildly, Churchill was not an ideal poster child for the cause of academic freedom. If right-wing critics of the university had set out to create a perfect caricature of a tenured radical who sacrifices scholarship for advocacy, they couldn’t have come up with a better one than Churchill. … The ultimate lesson of the Churchill case is that no cause, however just, benefits from being taken up by a propagandist. Scholarship must be sacrosanct. Rules of evidence must be followed. You can’t assert things that you want to believe are true, no matter how morally right or practically beneficial those assertions may be, and then distort or make up evidence to support them.