The Wall Street Journal ironically linked my blog at the bottom of University of Colorado President Hank Brown’s crusading editorial justifying his egregious firing of Mr Ward Churchill, Professor of Ethnic Studies. While President Brown’s article was published on July 26, 2007, they linked my commentary on tenure and the Churchill case that appeared on August 2, 2007. They also linked a blog entry by former Secretary of Labor nominee Linda Chavez.
This is an excerpt from Mr Brown’s justification for the firing of a tenured faculty member:
“The University of Colorado’s reputation was called into question in the matter of Ward Churchill. His claim that he was singled out for his free speech is a smokescreen.”
I would respectfully put it this way:
“The University of Colorado’s reputation is called into question in the matter of Ward Churchill. Its claim, disputed by several independent scholars, that Mr Churchill was guilty of scholarly misconduct is a smokescreen to silence his opinion on the lack of American innocence on September 11, 2001.”
I think it interesting that President Brown, while asserting free speech was not an issue, refers specifically to Mr Churchill’s September 11 comments on comparing the 9/11 casualties to “little Eichmanns.” It is irrefutable and beyond dispute, that had Mr Churchill not made that statement, C.U. would not have launched a “let’s get him this way” investigation of alleged scholarly transgressions. While one may argue that the cause of the investigation is less important than its findings, in this instance its findings have been contested and its cause was due to political repression of protected speech.
Professor Chafee. Harvard Law, convinced Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes to stop persecuting antiwar radical dissenters such as Charles Schenck and Eugene Debs.
There is some irony here as alluded to in the initial sentence. The Wall Street Journal wrote two editorials on November 12 and November 19, 2002 that supported my suspension as a result of an e-mail I sent to the Air Force Academy. They received quite a bit of criticism for their initial editorial which compelled them to write a follow-up piece. They also misspelled the cadet’s last name as “Krupiel” instead of “Kurpiel” in its initial editorial and letters.
Stephen Balch, the president of the conservative National Association of Scholars, wrote a letter that criticised strongly my denial of academic freedom, â€œDonâ€™t Sink any deeper Into Free-Speech Morass,â€ The Wall Street Journal, November 25, 2002. He disagreed with my e-mail to the cadet but affirmed that my university was denying me basic free speech and academic freedom rights that I was entitled to. His letter was most significant in displaying bi-partisan support during my academic-freedom case.
Mr Wilson also wrote this letter on November 18, 2002 to the Journal:
Your editorial page is infamous for defending professors with unpopular ideas against the forces of “political correctness.” But it appears that you hypocritically praise the repression of ideas you don’t like. Should anyone committed to academic freedom celebrate when a professor is “forced to apologize” for rude comments? It boggles the imagination that a professor who expresses an unpopular view (and apologizes) is denounced as an “uncivil bully,” while a university president who threatens the livelihood of a professor for expressing his ideas is celebrated as a hero. I can only imagine how you might react differently if a professor was forced to apologize for referring to abortion doctors as “baby killers.” Your “happy ending” is a sad day for liberty on college campuses.
John K. Wilson
Notably the Wall Street Journal was the only major media outlet that unethically denied me an opportunity to respond to such sensational condemnation. The Weekly Standard, FrontPageMag.com, The New Criterion, and the American Legion Magazine all afforded me the opportunity to state my case with op-eds, guest columns and letters.
I am pleased that the Journal at least chose to link my blog commentary which strongly dissented from President Brown’s dismissal of the tenured Mr Churchill. I must say I think it unseemly, if not meanspirited, for a university president such as Hank Brown to continue his national crusade against Mr Churchill. He has published highly charged commentary in InsideHigherEd.com as well. I am NOT questioning his right to do so or suggesting his free speech should be attenuated. I am asserting that a powerful university president who has trampeled on and denied a professor basic rights of academic freedom, should demonstrate some humility and frankly decency, and cease his campaign of intellectual conformity and vilification. I am pleased, however, the Wall Street Journal saw fit to include my blog as a contrarian view of the University of Colorado’s putative defence of academic freedom and critical thinking.