David French, part of the emerging conservative-liberal axis of thought police, has written an editorial praising the revocation of the continuous tenure of Mr Ward Churchill, University of Colorado. It appeared in the conservative tabloid, New York Post. I find it risible that the author is a director of a “Center for Academic Freedom.” They incorporate the phraseology of defenders of open inquiry but are determined to achieve a pall of conformity in classrooms across the United States.
The New Inquisition
Mr French, attempts in the fashion of Senator Joseph McCarthy, to link Mr Churchill’s ideological non-conformity to a growing cancer in academia–free thinking and refusal to endorse patriotic education. In his litany of the growing cancer, he alludes to me and other academic freedom cases:
“But if the case were a matter of words only, we would’ve already forgotten his name. Who, after all, remembers the Columbia professor who called for a “million Mogadishus?” Or the University of New Mexico professor who said, “Anybody who can blow up the Pentagon gets my vote?” Or the Xavier University professor who called an Air Force Academy cadet a “disgrace” and condemned his “aggressive baby-killing tactics?” For in Churchill’s case, there was much more at stake.”
Apparently Mr French does not know the names of the references above. He certainly does not know the institution where I teach: It is not the Jesuit, Xavier University in Ohio but St Xavier University in Chicago.
I should not have described the Air Force Academy cadet as a “disgrace” but I aver that dropping bombs from aeroplanes, dropping Napalm, dropping cluster bombs, using aerial technology to kill humans is a disgrace and a perversion of science and technology. On the other hand, I do believe that had he quoted my e-mail more thoroughly he would have cited: “aggressive baby-killing tactics of collateral damage.” Unfortunately, the United States does kill non-combatants both deliberately and in wanton disregard of discrimination. Not always, but the military does not condemn and punish the destruction of innocents. Soldiers are merely reprimanded or discharged but rarely committed of criminal behaviour meriting incarceration. The term “collateral damage” which Mr French chose not to include is an obscene phrase meant to obscure the vicious and horrific slaughter that invariably follows the endless imperialistic, immoral wars of the United States. Collateral damage is a coverup term referring to non-targeted casualties. Well, I think it appropriate for a university professor in this country to challenge the military and cadets, for that matter, to engage more introspectively the meaning of the use of that term and to face more directly the reality of the barbaric nature of war.
Also examine the exaggerated rhetoric of Mr French, as he excoriates professors that engage in robust speech:
”the leftist academic establishment.”
“professors publicly spewing deranged invective.”
“indoctrination was trumping education and our kids were throwing away their tuition dollars propping up vicious relics of the ’60s and supporting universities that were increasingly repressive.” (Emphasis added.)
The repressiveness is directed against professors who will not confirm to the canon. The word “vicious” should be applied to the conservative-liberal spin machine that uses provocative and hyperbolic speech to purge professors and deny their students the critical thinking and multi-dimensional approach to truth to which they are entitled.
I believe Mr French is less concerned about the occasional excesses of the left and is more interested in creating a system of higher education in which only his views are represented in faculty hirings, reading lists and course descriptions.
I was made aware of this article by John Wilson of College Freedom.