Jim Paine's Personal Blog

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Ethnic Studies Echo Chamber

(originally published on PirateBallerina.com November 11, 2005)

If one thing has become abundantly clear to me as I've delved deeper into Ward Churchill's writings and the general field of Ethnic Studies, it is that Ethnic Studies is little more than an academic echo chamber dominated by a few loud voices, Churchill's being among the loudest. Now, most fields of study are similarly repetitious, but what makes the Ethnic Studies echo chamber particularly troublesome is that many of the academics within the field are not academics at all, but rather, they are political activists with teaching jobs.

Why is this so? I won't go into the emergence of professorial activism, since that subject has been covered thoroughly here. Suffice it to say that since the '60s, the Humanities in general and Ethnic Studies in particular (requiring as it does so little real scholarship) have attracted vast numbers of otherwise unemployable activists. The short hours, the long breaks, the ample salaries, and the endless opportunities to inculcate gullible students with one's beliefs make this a near-perfect safe-house from which to conduct one's real business of political activism.

Ward Churchill's entire career has been both a mirror and a prototype of this merging of academia and activism. And now that career, as well as his body of work, has been called into question. Of course he will defend himself. But the real threat of the investigation of Churchill's work is not merely to Churchill's continued employment at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Most onlookers understand, at least on a visceral level, that this battle represents much more than that.

Most telling of the true scope of this battle is that Churchill's academic peers are so vociferous, so strident in defending him. The simple fact of the matter is that they must defend him. Their own sinecures are threatened when Churchill is threatened. Much of their work would be eviscerated should the vast array of Churchill citations suddenly be rendered worthless. The work of Vine Deloria, of Bruce Johansen, of Winona LaDuke, of Robert A. Williams, Jr.—activists all, Churchill supporters all—the work of all of these is hopelessly intertwined and interdependent, each providing rationale for the others' theses.

Churchill cites Deloria, who cites Johansen, who cites Williams, who cites Churchill.* But what happens when just one of those sources is shown to be irrelevant, or worse, false? How much of what presently constitutes the field of Ethnic Studies will have to be reconstructed from the ground up? What happens when a single joker is removed from this house of cards?

Nothing of import, save perhaps the restoration of a subfield of study to its rightful parents, History and Anthropology departments. And, of course, a vast lamentation from activists suddenly deprived of audience, income, and succor.

* I've been called to task for this statement (which I considered a rhetorical example of the circularity of citations and proofs offered by those named rather than actual cites), hence the addition of links to citations. I have yet to find a Churchill citation in any work of Professor Williams, but he has published mostly in law reviews, and these texts are more difficult to find than the usual victims' studies screeds. For the sake of argument, however, I'll stipulate that it's possible Williams has not cited Churchill, since Williams, writing for law reviews, would naturally confine most of his citations to legal cases.

Additionally, it's been pointed out that Winona LaDuke is not a college professor. This is correct, although her upcoming speaking schedule indicates a lively interest in her by academics. Oh, and LaDuke's not only cited Churchill at least twice (in her book All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life), but also co-authored with Churchill a chapter in The State of Native America, edited by Churchill's second wife, M. Annette Jaimes.

Additionally, Vine Deloria has written forwards for two of Johansen's books: Debating Democracy: Native American Legacy of Freedom, and Exemplar of Liberty: Native America and the Evolution of Democracy. Deloria is arguably the most cited historian among Ethnic Studies texts.

Oh, and while we're still looking for a Williams cite of Churchill, Churchill has cited Williams in his Acts of Rebellion: The Ward Churchill Reader, and his A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas 1492 to the Present, as well as here, and here.

BTW: I found so many occurrences of Churchill citing himself that I quit recording them. I can say without fear of contradiction that Churchill could write a lengthy book comprised solely of footnotes citing himself. And worse, somebody would buy it, and, worse still, within weeks, it would be on required reading lists in Ethnic Studies departments around the world.

I'll update the list as research progresses.

The Real Reason Churchill Says Outrageous Things

(originally published on PirateBallerina.com on July 8, 2005)

It's not big news any more—Ward Churchill makes yet another cleverly-worded comment that outrages everyone but the moonbat Left with its crude and violent illogic. Reasonable people marvel that Churchill would draw such attention to himself when his very career is in peril.

Has it not occurred to anyone that this is part—a very large and important part—of his overall legal strategy? While those opposed to Churchill rail loudly for his immediate severance from CU (And the Right is playing right into this strategy; some are so ignorant of the stakes that they don't even wait for Churchill to actually utter scandalous statements, but instead imagine in print what he might say, for instance, about the London terrorist bombings Thursday), Churchill keeps his eye on the prize: Winning the legal fight over his employment. All else is secondary.

The looming court battle over Churchill's tenure (and employment) with the University of Colorado will boil down to a single question: Is Churchill being terminated due to plagiarism, scholarly misconduct and race fraud, or is he being fired over free speech and academic freedom issues? If CU can prove it terminated his tenure/employment because of misconduct rather than for what he said, CU wins. That outcome seems less likely with each new speaking engagement.

In this light, it's easy to understand why his latest remarks concerning the fragging of line officers in Iraq are slyly short of actual incitement (inevitably couched in rhetorical terms in what should be considered a rather daring prostitution of the Socratic method), as have been most of his other provocative comments. It's increasingly clear that as long as Churchill can keep the argument (and outrage) centered on his words rather than his actions (without stepping into "incitement" territory), the outcome of the legal question of "Why is he losing his job?" will most certainly be "because he said outrageous and hurtful things."

We pointed out here back in February that Churchill (and the Left) would work strenuously to recast the argument in First Amendment and academic freedom terms. We didn't realize at the time, however, that Churchill would take such a proactive approach to that recasting, ensuring with each new "frag the officers" outrage that it would be more difficult for a judge to see the argument as anything but a freedom of speech issue.

And that means Churchill wins—he keeps his job or gets a huge settlement from CU, or both—and the CU system and the people of the State of Colorado lose. CU's reputation and that of academia in general will, of course, be damaged—but not irreparably so. But that will not change the fact that Ward Churchill will have won.

Very clever.

Faulty Grammar-Checker Blamed for Monstrous Misunderstanding

(originally published on PirateBallerina.com on June 24, 2005)

Embattled ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill is blaming the debacle of the last five months on a faulty grammar-checker, saying that his infamous "roosting chickens" essay about the 9/11 terrorist attacks wasn't taken out of context, it was just not well-edited.

"I'm surprised nobody noticed this before," a red-faced Churchill said at a hastily-called press conference Friday, "but I have to admit that even I didn't notice it until just this morning. I wish I had a dollar for every person who read that essay and didn't catch the error." He paused, then added "I'd have fifty-sixty bucks, easy."

Churchill told the estimated crowd of 200 local and national journalists that a recently-installed freeware grammar-checker, "Gramma-Cheka", had changed what he typed—"little Entenmann's" (referring to the popular brand of donuts and pastries)—to "little Eichmanns." The change went unnoticed despite widespread internet distribution as well as an expansion into a book-length work.

"My metaphorical use of food in the essay is, of course, complex to the layman, but surely you've all heard the expression 'as American as apple pie.' Well, I'd meant to relate the 'Americanness' and 'lovability' of those poor people who died on 9/11 to the well-known popularity of Entenmann's glazed donuts," Churchill said. "And if you replace the error with "little Entenmann's," anyone can see that's exactly where I was headed." Patting his ample belly to the laughing approval of the gathered journalists, Churchill added: "You can tell I have a weakness for glazed donuts—there's a box of Entenmann's next to my computer at all times."

Churchill also noted that, once corrected, the essay clearly intimates that "technocrats" refers to the Keebler elves, the marketing representatives of another popular line of pastries. Other errors the relieved Churchill pointed out to reporters included the essay's title itself, which he said should read "On the Justice of Roasting Chickens."

"Not 'roosting'," he said ruefully. 'Roasting.' When I'm not gobbling Entenmann's, I'm having dinner with 'the Colonel.' I may sue the Gramma-Checka people for this."

In light of the newly discovered errors, Churchill said, he planned to review very carefully everything else he has published in the past four years. He says he won't start the review until after the Fourth of July, his favorite holiday after Thanksgiving.

Right now, he noted, he is still marveling that the "little Eichmanns" error went undetected for so long.

"I mean, really," Churchill said, "what kind of idiot would liken 3,000 innocent victims to Adolf Eichmann?"

Attention, WorldNetDaily reporters looking for a story you can steal without attribution: This is a satirical article. It is a phony news story. It is not true. It is made up. It is a parody. It is a canard. Next time you steal a news story, you might want to contact the story's author, since you might learn something, such as the fact that the story is a satirical, made-up, untrue canard.

Just a tip.

The Genocide of Indian Burns

(originally published on PirateBallerina.com June 15, 2005)

How do you define the word "genocide"?

Chances are, you define it to mean the extermination of an ethnic or national group. You'll be happy to know that the Oxford English Dictionary (unabridged) agrees with you. Genocide, it says, is "[t]he deliberate and systematic extermination of an ethnic or national group." (italics mine)

Most of us, then, understand that when someone makes a charge of "genocide," they mean the extermination of an ethnic or national group is taking place, and naturally, we are greatly concerned, if not outraged. The accuser certainly has our attention.

That's how you understand it, and that's how you apply it. You hear "genocide" and you think of Nazi death camps. You hear "genocide" and you think of Pol Pot's killing fields. You hear "genocide" and you think of gassed Kurds.

Would it surprise you to know that "genocide" can be applied to the act of telling a Pollack joke? That the "tomahawk chop" of Atlanta Braves fans is, in fact, genocide? That the very name of the Braves baseball team is itself, genocide?

Unlike the accusations "fascist!" and "Nazi!" which have in their over-application become virtually meaningless, almost without sting, the word "genocide" has retained its original meaning while maintaining maximum impact—entirely due to the fact that it does not mean what you think it means.

The word was first coined by Raphael Lemkin in his Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation - Analysis of Government - Proposals for Redress, (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1944), In coining the word, Lemkin offered this initial definition:

"By 'genocide' we mean the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group."

Had Lemkin left it at that, generations of (primarily leftist) activists would have been deprived of a favorite accusation (rivaled only, of course, by "fascist!" and "Nazi!"). Fortunately, Lemkin went on to more fully define his new word (emphasis mine):

"[W]e must see to it that the Hague Regulations are so amended as expressly to prohibit genocide in any war which may occur in the future. De lege ferenda, the definition of genocide in the Hague Regulations thus amended should consist of two essential parts, in the first should be included every action infringing upon the life, liberty, health, corporal integrity, economic existence, and the honor of the inhabitants when committed because they belong to a national, religious, or racial group; and in the second, every policy aiming at the destruction or the aggrandizement of one of such groups to the prejudice or detriment of another."

From this, it is easy to see that Ward Churchill's many accusations of genocide are well within the meaning of the word as Lemkin himself defined it. With Lemkin's definition in hand, it can easily be argued that the assimilation of one ethnic group by another is genocide (which Churchill has, in fact, used as an example of genocide), since "every action" that infringes upon the "corporal integrity" of a group is genocide. It can easily be argued that telling a Pollack joke "infringes on... the honor" of Poland, and is therefore—by Lemkin's own definition—genocide. It can easily be argued that giving an "Indian burn" is particularly genocidal because both its name and its application infringes upon the honor of Native Americans. The use of that childhood staple's other name, "Dutch rub" would, of course, be equally genocidal in its infringement of the honor of the Dutch.

Obviously (to you and me, not to the intellectual Left), these are ludicrous examples. Even though they fit Lemkin's criteria, Pollack jokes, or tomahawk chops, or "Indian burns"—crude or unkind or puerile they may be—are not acts of genocide. But "genocide" can be, and very often is—applied to actions in a way that is just as absurd—and still cleave to Lemkin's definition. Intellectuals like Churchill can properly and quite correctly attribute genocide to the the Atlanta Braves, to a Big Chief writing tablet, to the Land o Lakes butter logo, to the tomahawk chop.

And therein lies the problem, this dichotomy between what we plebeians (along with the Oxford English Dictionary) understand "genocide" to mean, and what the cognizanti know it to mean (and yes, they know what Lemkin said; check the number of citations to his definition in (primarily leftist) screeds—including Churchill's).

It can easily be argued that the (primarily leftist) ideologues who use "genocide" in Lemkin's expanded definition are guilty of exploiting our erroneous belief that it means the "extermination of an ethnic or national group" in order to arouse our passions against some act we might otherwise consider (rightly or wrongly) innocuous and ignore.

If you think I'm exaggerating, google the phrases "zionist genocide" (369 listings), "religious genocide" (3,620), "gay genocide" (610), "animal genocide" (279) or "[pick any noun] genocide" sometime. I recommend you do it when you have a great deal of free time, and absolutely nothing more important to do.

To use a quote by Russell Thornton slightly out of context, "The history is bad enough— there's no need to embellish it." Using the charge of "genocide" to describe any act of which you disapprove simply because you know it will get everyone's attention is not clever. It's dishonest—even when you know you're using the word in a way Lemkin would have approved.

My thanks to PirateBallerina's own troll, Kern, without whose goading this essay might not have been conceived.

Update: It occurs to me that I misspoke; as any recipient of both can tell you, the Indian burn and the Dutch rub—though equally unpleasant (and, yes, genocidal)—are not the same thing.

Ward Churchill's Ghost Dance

(originally published on PirateBallerina.com on June 8, 2005)

"In those days there will be no reservation, no messenger from the Great Father to say to the Indians: 'Come back here; stay on your reservation.' " —Scarlet Woman (Walokpis band of Sioux), who was thought to have been chosen to give birth to the Native American Messiah, from her testimony in court, 1890 (taken from a November 15, 1890 Chillicothe Constitution (MO) article on this website)

By the 1880s, most Native Americans had been either exterminated in endless wars for land, decimated by plagues, chased into oblivion, or rounded up onto steadily shrinking reservations—and a few had been assimilated into the larger white culture.

The Ghost Dance originated two decades earlier. Tävibo, a Piute mystic, prophesied that the whites would soon be swallowed up by the earth and that all dead Indians would rise to enjoy a life free of their conquerors. This mystic is credited with initiating the first form of the Ghost Dance among tribes in Nevada, California and Oregon.

Then came another Piute, Wakova, raised by a white rancher and known also as Jack Wilson. By 1878 he was claiming to be the son of Tävibo and the promised Messiah, and was preaching an amalgam of Christianity and Indian spirituality, with his prophesying a return of the buffalo, a swallowing of the white intruders, and the rising of the Indian dead to a pristine land of immortality more of an apocalyptic vision than one of salvation. He counseled his Indian brethren to "not hurt anybody or do harm to anyone."

Wakova also laid out specific rules for the conduct of the Ghost Dance, and by 1888, the Dance was endemic among the Western tribes. It found particular acceptance among the Sioux, who added to the growing tradition trances, speaking with the dead, and a Ghost Shirt that would protect its wearer from Army bullets. Two Miniconjou Sioux mystics—Kicking Bear and Short Bull—were instrumental in the rise of the Ghost Dance and its new Sioux beliefs; they counted Sitting Bull among their friends, though the great Chief was skeptical of the bullet-repellent powers of the Ghost Shirt.

When Sitting Bull was killed while in Army custody (entire shelves of books exist about this controversial event), great outrage and even greater fear rose among the Sioux. They fled to the camps of Kicking Bear and Big Foot. Later, the Army would round up these and other Sioux (who offered no resistance) and force them to set up camp near Wounded Knee Creek. The apparently accidental discharge of a weapon is credited with the bloody battle (or massacre, if you prefer) that ensued, wherein many of these believers—the majority of them women and children—many of them clad in their Ghost Shirts, were killed by the Army while "resisting arrest."

That's a very brief (and certainly contestable) accounting of the rise of the Ghost Dance and its tragic end. As historian Russell Thornton has said, "The history is bad enough. It doesn't need to be embellished."

Which brings us to Ward Churchill, a mystic of the new age, preaching an Indian paradise once the U.S. is off the planet. His goal, at least from his perspective, is noble: To return the land to the Indian and to vanquish the white intruder. He lies, fabricates, and exaggerates to achieve this goal—not particularly reprehensible strategies when amongst one's enemy.

All of Churchill's academic imbroglios aside, Churchill's problem is not that the paradise he preaches—like that of the original Ghost Dancers—will never come to pass. His problem is that the warriors he preaches his new brand of Ghost Dance to are not warriors at all. They are not even Indians; Native Americans, for the most part, are working hard to survive and even perhaps one day prosper among the whites (and yes, to achieve some form of justice from a government that has treated their ancestors terribly). Churchill's Ghost Dancers, on the other hand, are disaffected white youths (and misguided adults) who wear chicken-hats to show their (mostly fleeting) support. Most of these supporters will come to their senses as they mature, and the ones who don't will find their fellow whites frown on the petty vandalism in which they sometimes engage.

For while Churchill may be the Indian's new messiah, his followers are not fit to wear the Ghost Shirt. Callow, loutish, often stupid, those who dance his Ghost Dance make a poor comparison to the Sioux of the 1890s, who in desperation chose a spirituality that proved to be tragic in its practice. They died for that belief, but they believed it even as they died.

That's the tragic element to Churchill's new Ghost Dance, if only for Churchill. The white minions he encourages are for the most part cowards and dullards; their beliefs change with the latest pronouncement from the newest anti-culture icon. They have no stake in the white man leaving North America; they'd be among the first to have to leave. And while the young and the foolish are always eager for the iconoclast, their adoration ends where any struggle actually begins. One type of man may hold the struggle toward a hopeless goal close to his heart for all of his days, but those who wear the chicken-hat are made of another substance.

This does not make Churchill (assuming he is earnest in his goal) an heroic figure, but rather, a tragic one. When this thought occurs to Churchill, or worse, when its truth is brought forth in the inevitable outcome of one of his encouraged "actions," there will be a great wailing and gnashing of teeth in the Churchill tent.

[ed. note: Readers can find many of the same themes and conclusions discussed with far more authority in Professor Thomas F. Brown's chapter “The Prophetic Tradition in American Indian Politics” in the forthcoming Nationalisms Across the Globe: An overview of the nationalisms of state-endowed and stateless nations, edited by Wojciech Burszta, Tomasz Kamusella and Sebastian Wojciechowski. Poznan, Poland: Wyzsza Szkola Nauk Humanistycznych i Dziennikarstwa, 2005.]

Reading Between the Lies

(originally published on PirateBallerina.com June 6, 2005)

The reporter's rule regarding the credibility of sources has always been expressed as "if your mother tells you the sun rises in the east—verify." If this rule had any reason to exist, it is in its application to Ward Churchill.

While Churchill is arguably not a "mother," his every utterance, his every written word, is proof that the maxim is a necessary weapon in any reporter's intellectual arsenal.

And proving Churchill is incorrect, or misleading, or lying, is not difficult. One only needs to choose an assertion—any assertion—and google it(or in our case, MSN Search it). We did it as an exercise here in relation to Churchill's claim in his infamous "roosting chickens" essay that US sanctions were responsible for 500,000 dead Iraqi children. Charlie Brennan did it here on Churchill's lack of math skills in that same essay. Professor Thomas Brown did it here on a wide range of Churchill's fabrications, and Professor John Lavelle does it here for a gamut of Churchill "facts."

In fact, it's our assertion that any declarative statement written or uttered by Churchill that has his untruths excised would consist entirely of definite and indefinite articles, some inconsequential pronouns, and an occasional "and" or "therefore."

For example, let's remove the demonstrable untruths from this Churchill quote:

"All told, Iraq has a population of about 18 million. The 500,000 kids lost to date thus represent something on the order of 25 percent of their age group.”

We find quickly that Churchill's fabrications aren't even internally consistent (don't worry; we'll do the math).

Since the quote is from 2001, let's look at actual population figures for Iraq for that period: 23.6 million (source: United Nations Population Fund). We've already dealt with the "500,000 kids lost..." phrase, so that leaves us with the "25 percent of their age group."

Well, in 2001, minors did, in fact, represent 26% of the U.S. population (source: Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics), but the CIA World Factbook says that in 2005 Iraqi children ages 0-14 years account for 40% of the country's total population, and we'll make a guess that that age group comprised roughly the same proportion of the population in 2001—which means that there were roughly 9.3 million children under the age of 16 in Iraq in 2001, which means that Churchill's "something on the order of 25 percent of their age group" is five times the actual percentage of 5.34%. (If, like Churchill, you prefer not to trust the CIA, the WorldPress website has similar estimates: Iraq population in 2001: 23.3 million, with 41.64% of that population aged 0-14 years.)

So, after expunging the provable misrepresentations, misleading "facts" and outright lies from Churchill's original quote, what are we left with?

"All told, Iraq has a population."

And that, dear readers, is a Churchill statement with which we can all agree.

Update: It only occured to us after posting this commentary that it represents a "reverse dowdification" of Churchill's words. Dowdification (first coined by James Taranto of Opinion Journal's Best of the Web) is the process of selectively quoting a source by omitting actual phrases from a sentence in order to make the resulting statement say something very different from what the source intended. Since the dowdification process invariably results in a lie, we see our work above as a sort of reverse-dowdification, since the result arrives at a truth (however mundane).

Can't Churchill get anything right?

(originally published in PirateBallerina.com April 5, 2005)

Ward Churchill's whirlwind tour of Berkeley and San Francisco has yielded yet another example of his fine scholarship: using some old teeth in a local bar as an example of why Americans deserve to die. There may exist a valid argument that Americans do deserve to die, but Churchill seems unable to supply one.

During his various speeches to anarchists and "Ethnic Studies" students, Churchill related how some of his students had told him of a grisly display in a local bar in San Francisco's financial district:

"There's a handful of human teeth laying there with a placard that explains the significance of the fact that they're in the case. And it says these are the teeth of Custer's squaw--okay? after he knocked them out of her head. Now I don't know whether these are Mo-nah-se-tah's teeth or not, but the reality of the story, of that great American hero, that symbol of the taming of the West, took a young woman, who was the daughter of Black Kettle, a peace leader of the Cheyenne, after they were massacred--that camp was massacred on the Washita river in November 1868--and he kept her as a concubine for several years, until he tired of her and cast her aside. He had children with her, so you've got Custer descendents who were Cheyenne. I didn't know he had knocked her teeth out, I don't know--as I said--whether these are in fact, are.

But assuming that he did, that was part of the discipline to keep her in sexual servitude--that noble figure of a man. And they are now a trophy for the edification for the yuppie elite in downtown San Francisco--and I gotta ask you--think about it for a second--What kind of a twisted fucking mentality would turn this into a trophy that you could be proud of and hand down as heirloom from generation to generation in your family? That's the owner of the bar. [applause]. But more to the point, what kind of mentality imbues the people who habituate the bar that turned it into a place where they socialize and have recreation finally find this to be an acceptable kind of adornment to their environment? And I've got an answer for you, and that answer is: Eichmann! Eichmann! that is the mentality of Eichmann!"
(audio clip here;
the quote begins at 19:43)

Creepy, yes. Gruesome, yes. And it effectively demonstrates why these "yuppie elite" deserve punishment. There's really little else to be said. Except that this story, which Churchill finds so useful in stirring up so much disgust and anger at his usual targets, has one little flaw. It never happened.

Briefly, the facts: Mo-nah-se-tah, the teenaged daughter--not of Black Kettle, as Churchill claims (he's always had difficulty with Indian lineage)--but of Chief Little Rock (who was also killed in the Battle of the Washita, during which Mo-nah-se-tah was among those taken captive), was--in Custer's own words--"an exceedingly comely squaw, possessing a bright, cheery face, a countenance beaming with intelligence, and a disposition more inclined to be merry than one usually finds among the Indians." That Custer found the woman attractive is not in doubt. But did Mo-nah-se-tah perform duties for Custer beyond those of interpreter? Custer's accusers are immediately suspect. They include only "the notorious Custer critic Capt. Frederick W. Benteen; Ben Clark, who blamed Custer for his dismissal as an Army scout; and Cheyenne oral tradition [The Custer Companion by Thom Hatch, Stackpole Books]." This oral tradition holds that Mo-nah-se-tah bore Custer a child in the fall of 1869, although it seems unlikely, since she was seven months pregnant at the Battle of the Washita and bore an Indian child in January of 1869. Additionally, the Cheyenne oral tradition is itself contradicted by other Cheyenne oral tradition. In agreement with the nonsensical nature of the allegations are most historians and Western scholars, including Frost, Monaghan, Connell, Ambrose, and Wert (as noted in The Custer Companion, which also points out that Custer was believed to have been sterile---which Wert's The Controversial Life of George Armstrong Custer attributes to a case of gonorrhea Custer contracted while at West Point---his marriage to Libby Custer was childless.)

So it seems unlikely that Mo-nah-se-tah was Custer's "sex-slave" or bore him children, and it follows that it's also unlikely that he knocked out that handful of teeth as "discipline to keep her in sexual servitude." Additionally, the placard accompanying the teeth says that the teeth are "[w]isdom teeth of Custer's live-in squaw extracted by Maj. Henry Blodgett, Field Surgeon 7th Cavalry (without anesthesia)." [emphasis mine] There does appear to be an eye-tooth (actually two, see next paragraph) among the wisdom teeth, which the placard says "was knocked out of her mouth in a jealous pique by the 'General' for slipping into the tent of the handsome Lt. James Sturgis on a frosty 'Kansas morn.'"

On top of that, Mo-nah-se-tah seems remarkably well-endowed dentally, since there are seven teeth in the display: the one eye-tooth ostensibly "knocked out of her head"; another five of which appear to be wisdom teeth; and a seventh that appears to be a second eye-tooth, its purpose or method of extraction undisclosed. This is certainly "a handful of teeth" but the probability they all came from the same mouth is extremely unlikely. It may well be a scam; as my sometimes-collaborator zombie, who photographed the display, notes: "And as for the teeth themselves -- why in the world would they have been saved? And what evidence is there that the story is true at all? I tend to believe that the entire exhibit is a hoax, perhaps concocted long ago -- a handful of random old teeth and a caption describing them that would have seemed racy when displayed in a frontier tavern or a traveling show."

What does all this prove? It certainly does not prove one way or the other whether Custer was sexually involved with Mo-nah-se-tah (the subject of at least four books), or even whether her over-ample supply of wisdom teeth were "knocked from her head" by Custer.

What it does prove, however, is that--in the service of his great battle against the Evil Empire that is the U.S. and to perfect his demonification of the "yuppie elite"--Churchill uses a factually incorrect argument based on suspect history supporting an improbable display.

It's not important to Churchill to apprise himself of the authenticity of the display; he doesn't bother to count the teeth or even to note for his gullible audience that the foundation for his argument may be untrue. His scholarship is so flawed he can't even get Mo-nah-se-tah's parentage correct--perhaps forgivable in a general public speaker but not in a "recognized Native American scholar".

Is this the reasoned discourse of a respected college professor? Or is it the rhetoric of a shameless fraud and huckster?

[my thanks to zombie, who has proven to be a steadfast and reliable researcher into the many quirks of academia's most useful idiot.]

Top 10 Reasons Churchill Should Not Be Fired

(originally published on PirateBallerina.com April 24, 2005)

10. He makes all other Ethnic Studies professors look positively sane.

9. CU just wouldn't be the same respected and revered institution of higher learning without him.

8. He would have more time to write.

7. He would have more time to write.

6. If he were fired, dozens of anarcho-marxist chicken-hat-wearing vegan scrotum-inflaters across the nation might do something rash.

5. Two words: Affirmative Action.

4. People in the burgeoning cottage industry of Churchill-loathing blogs would have to shut down and find productive jobs.

3. The US's plans to get out of North America and off the planet would be thrown into disarray.

2. News coverage of Jacko's trial would be uninterrupted.

1. Scholarship, integrity, and objective reasoning would have a chance of gaining acceptance in Ethnic Studies--and that would just be wrong.

'Churchill' Like a Pro

(originally published on PirateBallerina.com April 18, 2005)

Having listened to enough Ward Churchill speeches to qualify as at least an upper-division Ethnic Studies student (and, thus, fully deserving of all the public acclamation and reverence that position deserves-- ie, zilch), I have arrived at several conclusions, the first of which is rarely covered in media accounts (with the glowing exception of
zombie's excellent pictorial dissection of several Churchill events), but which can best be expressed "Where do they find all these cretins?" PT Barnum was, in the final analysis, a pollyanna.

At every Churchill "rally" (one cannot call them "forums" and continue to claim a reverence for the objective meaning of words, although most media and all universities seem to think otherwise), the innate choral nature of a Churchill audience reveals a constituency comprised entirely of amen-corner idiots (primarily white middle-class louts, unsurprisingly) brimming with eager loathing of the US, and drives home the point that Churchill is not so much "winning hearts and minds" as he is providing already-won hearts and minds with the "intellectual ammunition" to bravely battle the hateful and murderous US. One imagines that had only Mummy and Daddy bought Brent that pony like he wanted, Brent would have found something more productive to do than enthusiastically echoing Churchill's sedition today. As the satirist Karl Kraus pointed out (which quote I've shamelessly cribbed from The Weekly Standard), "'the secret of the demagogue is to make himself as stupid as his audience, so they believe they are as clever as he." In achieving that level of stupidity, Churchill has succeeded, and judging from his audience, it was no mean feat.

But that's all prologue to the second conclusion I've drawn from Churchill's speech (and honestly, he just has the one), which is that those wishing to schedule him can save the speaking fee and travel & lodging fees by simply having someone read the following:

"Greetings my relatives blah blah blah.... Blah blah Leonard Peltier blah blah blah still in a cage.... Blah blah blah little Eichmanns blah blah.... Blah blah blah [litany of US-perpetrated holocausts ranging from the Dutch playing kickball with the heads of slaughtered Indians from whom they had earlier purchased the island of Manhattan to the Dresden fire-bombings and, of course, Hiroshima and Nagasaki] blah blah blah US out of North America!"

The above version has the added attraction of being brief. Purists may argue, however, that omitting the length and density of a Churchill speech is to lose the soporific effect of the original. I offer, then, the outline of Churchill's speech:

  1. Self-identify as an Indian. For authenticity, learn the Sioux words for "Seditious Buffoon" and announce that that is your true name, and that "Bill Smith" is your "colonial name" (45 seconds)

  2. Defend convicted murderer Leonard Peltier (two minutes)

  3. Blather on contradictorily with exculpatory material concerning the "little Eichmanns' essay (seven minutes)

  4. Launch a long, long, long litany of the US's apparently unbroken history of slaughter and genocide that, concatenatively, more than justifies the 9/11 terrorist attacks (15 minutes)

  5. Ask a series of pseudo-rhetorical questions following the basic line of "How would you address the egregious human rights violations of the United States?" (two minutes)

  6. Without allowing rumination or conversation on the preceding question, quickly launch into a systematic derogation of "pacifist" solutions. Remember: you wrote Pacifism As Pathology (three minutes)

  7. Propound knowingly about US Constitutional law, international law, and the illegitimacy of US existence. (four minutes)

  8. Argue that individual citizens (like, say, your audience members) are the "enforcement arm" to ensure that the government complies with aforementioned international law "by any means necessary." (one minute)

  9. Having eliminated all possible nonviolent solutions to your pseudo-rhetorical question, leave the determination of what possible action remains legitimate as an exercise for the student. Broad hints are allowed, but explicitly telling your audience to "off the pig" (however receptive they may be to that encouragement) is cheating.

  10. Question & Answer period: Here, say whatever you want. Really. Anything will suffice. Mention Locke or Malcolm X (or both, if you're feeling cocky) for extra points with the audience. Any question you wish not to answer can be effectively responded-to with sarcasm. Lately, this function has been assumed by other audience members, and you merely have to nod or say "well said" to achieve applause, or perhaps even a standing O.
By the way: Don't concern yourself with the sparsity of logic, reason, or actual facts in the above outline. As we learned from my first conclusion (and from the basically unchanged wording of Churchill's speech for the past three years), none of the cretins will ever fact-check you.

Take Your Time Leaving, Ward

(originally published on PirateBallerina.com March 15, 2005)

The obvious satisfaction The Denver Post is taking at the breakdown in buyout negotiations between Churchill and CU is hilarious in the extreme. The paper taunts the Regents for every perceived setback and snidely charts out the dismal future. It's obvious The Post thinks CU should buy Churchill out, just pay him to go away. After all, it's the responsible thing to do.

Obviously, The Post's management got too many time-outs, and too few, if any, cuffs upside the head. Buying Churchill out of his tenured professorship is exactly the irresponsible thing to do. Beside the fact that it guarantees an easy, comfortable and unearned retirement for a militant clown, it would wrongly say that principle and integrity mean as little to CU as they do to Churchill.

Fortunately, CU's management, the Regents, have ignored The Post's thinly veiled shepherding, and have grasped the nettle; they are now showing backbone by owning up to the responsibility of cleaning up a mess their university made. We believe they will, in fact, clean up. And it's our guess the clean-up won't end with the disposal of Churchill.

Bravo, Regents. Bravo.

For our part, we here at PirateBallerina should be excused if we aren't in a hurry for Churchill to leave CU--and not for the reason you might think: that as a single-issue website, we need Churchill's continued public prominence to generate our daily traffic.

No, what we find most exhilarating about the happy probability of Churchill remaining on the job for months to come is that it allows us daily opportunities to show him to the world for what he is: The recruiting poster-child for Marxist academia's morally despicable posturing. He represents the ideal of the Academic Left brought low, the militant Marxist intellectual with his philosophical pants pulled down around his filthy ankles.

We want Churchill unrepentant; we want him defiant; we want him drawn self-righteously up to his full height and full of bile and bombast. Churchill is, after all, the last gunslinger of the intellectual Left, the very ideal of every faculty-lounge activist's hero-worship. You want an example of "the banality of evil"? Churchill's ongoing tenure at CU while the Regents work to fire him affords us endless occasion to hold him up to the light of righteous ridicule for the truly banal little Goebbels he is. It permits us the rare luxury of saying "There! There it is! See it now for what it is--without the cloak of confusion or misdirection or misunderstanding--there is the end product and greatest achievement of the Academic Left.

There will never be another Ward, not as such, not in our lifetimes. Thank you, Ward, for all of this, you smug, magnificent bastard.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Debunking Churchill

(originally published on PirateBallerina.com February 2005)

Since the re-emergence of Ward Churchill’s notorious essay “Some People Push Back” a great deal has been made of Churchill’s likening of the victims of the 9/11 attacks as deserving of their fate because they were “little Eichmanns” (referring to the Nazi bureaucrat who oversaw the logistics and planning of moving jews and other human cargo to and from the concentration camps and of course, the death camps.

Of late, Churchill complains that he is being taken out of context. He offers the weaselly explanation that it is the “technocrats” he refers to in a preceding sentence who he is really calling little Eichmanns. He makes a specific point to rule out the food service workers, the janitors, and other low-level personnel from the little Eichmann group. He claims a parsing of his words will reveal that he intended only to include the “technocrats”—the bankers, the government workers, etc.

Let’s take a look at what he said, then, and see if his latest meaning can be parsed:

There is simply no argument to be made that the Pentagon personnel killed on September 11 fill that bill. The building and those inside comprised military targets, pure and simple. As to those in the World Trade Center . . .

Well, really. Let's get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire – the "mighty engine of profit" to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved – and they did so both willingly and knowingly. [emphasis mine]

Parsing… parsing…. Nope, I see no exclusionary text wherein Churchill pardons the janitors, et al. His “they” in the second paragraph refers to his “those” in the first (“As to those in the World Trade Center…”) And those can only be interpreted to mean (in the context of Churchill's essay) everyone. Churchill would now have us believe that he was referring to the actual technocrats. Nope. The “technocratic corps” he refers to is made up of, Who, class? Anyone? Bueller? It refers to they, which in turn refers to those, as in “those in the World Trade Center…” The construction of his sentences is such that it is logically impossible to draw the conclusion that those is a subset of technocratic corps; quite the opposite, the technocratic corps is a subset of those.

Moving on, here’s the money quote (and this section is sequentially contiguous to the above quote):

Recourse to "ignorance" – a derivative, after all, of the word "ignore" – counts as less than an excuse among this relatively well-educated elite. To the extent that any of them were unaware of the costs and consequences to others of what they were involved in – and in many cases excelling at – it was because of their absolute refusal to see. More likely, it was because they were too busy braying, incessantly and self-importantly, into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions, each of which translated, conveniently out of sight, mind and smelling distance, into the starved and rotting flesh of infants. If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I'd really be interested in hearing about it. [emphasis mine]

Ah, here, Churchill seemingly saves his hash. He finally defines the all-encompassing “they” as “this relatively well-educated elite.” Now, I’ve known plenty of janitors, even worked as one myself, and I believe I can speak for most people in that I never considered myself or any other janitor a member of “this relatively well-educated elite.” But does that phrase automatically exclude the janitors, et al? I’ve also known plenty of educated food service workers; many waitresses and cooks at restaurants are kids working their way through college. Surely Churchill, a college professor with over a decade of experience teaching would know this, as well. Also, it can reasonably be said of everyone in this country that they are “relatively well-educated.” So are the janitors okay, but the waiters and waitresses and bus-boys are little Eichmanns? r is it the other way around? Maybe we should just get the resumes of all of the World Trade Center dead, and have Churchill give us his pronouncement on the "little Eichmann-ity" of each on an individual basis.

No. Back on point, I don’t think Churchill gets a pass on this one. Let’s move on.

“[…]befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns[…]” Here we could pretend that the little Eichmanns he refers to are a new group, completely separate and different from the “they” and the “those” he refers to earlier, but no such luck. Construction of the sentence insists that the “little Eichmanns” are identical and one-and-the-same as the “their” in “their participation.”

One last minor weasel to deal with....Churchill has also pointed out that his essay was written "from the gut" in the 24-hour period immediately following the 9/11 tragedy. That he makes this statement implies strongly that he wants us to know that had he had more time, he might have constructed his reasoning better. But the man has published at least a dozen books, the footnotes of which alone would fill several more. Ask any reporter you meet if time constraints give them a free pass on grammar errors.

So, conclusion? Churchill meant exactly what he said, his later weaseling notwithstanding. And what he meant was that those in the World Trade Center were little Eichmanns who deserved “some penalty.” There's no other way to parse it.

Recasting the Argument

(originally published on pirateballerina.com February 2005)

While the entire Churchill issue came up because of his "little Eichmanns" statement, it is incumbent on those opposed to his continued professorship at CU to realize that if we allow it, academia and the MSM will work hard to cast this as a "freedom of speech" and/or an "academic freedom" issue. It is not.

Churchill is no academic. Take a look at his 1980 resume, with which he acquired not only a professorship at CU, but tenure. Long ago I wrote resumes for a living, and I can say from a professional perspective that Churchill's resume wouldn't have gotten a ditch-digger a job, let alone a tenure track professorship. CU wanted him on the payroll, and I suspect that he could have submitted a piece of grocery sack with "I teach gud" on it in green crayon and they still would have hired him. Oh, and he didn't have a doctorate. Oh, and he isn't an Indian. Oh, and his radical-left press-published screeds have been thoroughly debunked by not one but two actual Indian history scholars whose refutations were peer-reviewed. With the exception of those few niggling points, I think we can all agree that Churchill deserved a tenured position.

Churchill is no Indian. His only verifiable claim to that racial designation is an "honorary Indian" membership card he obtained from the United Keetoowah Band (Cherokee) that the band was passing out to pretty much anyone (Bill Clinton has one, as do many other non-Indians). He can't even get his "Indian name" right, saying at one time that it is "Kenis" and at another "Keezjunnahbeh" (which he says means "kind-hearted man"; one can only imagine what "Kenis" means). Most recently, Churchill answers inquiries into his race by simply refusing to discuss it at all. Most damning is the United Keetoowah Band's own refutation of Churchill's claims to membership. At this point, Churchill's best bet is to hope for the Bureau of Indian Affairs to grant the Raelians official Indian tribal status.

These are the two specific points upon which Churchill's firing should be based. He does not meet the (admittedly loose) academic standards of many liberal arts departments (except for, perhaps, Sangamon's), and he does not meet the requirements (far more stringent) of Indian band affiliation.

Do not let academia cast this as a "freedom of speech" issue. Churchill has every right to stand on a street corner and spew whatever venom he wants. He does not have the right to a cushy tenured taxpayer-supported teaching job from which to spew. He is an academic fraud and a race fraud. Academia should be furiously checking his past statements for veracity and scholarship. The MSM should be checking records to verify his race affiliations (and they are, thanks in part to the blogosphere's unwillingness to let this whole thing blow over). Write to the various academics and media associated with the Churchill debacle. Let them know you expect objectivity and zealous pursuit of the truth--if just this once.

But don't expect immediate results from academia. Keep in mind who you are dealing with. As Orwell said: "Some ideas are so stupid only intellectuals will believe them."

PirateBallerina publisher hosts personal blog

As the publisher of PirateBallerina.com, the website that features voluminous information on the University of Colorado - Boulder professor Ward Churchill, I've been criticized for prohibiting comments, or worse (in the view of some dissenters) of deleting comments. I have prohibited comments, and yes, I have deleted comments. PirateBallerina is not a public debate forum. While it takes the form of a blog (because the blog format lent itself best to regular entries and easy remote editing), it is not a blog. It is a compendium of facts and essays concerning Churchill and his various battles with university administrators, the media, and other academics.

If you happen to find this blog, and wish to remark on my ancestry, sexual proclivities, personal hygiene, or eating habits, feel free to post your comments here.

I'll also be cross-posting essays and opinion pieces I've written for PirateBallerina over the past year here. I'm not opposed to comments or criticisms, I simply don't consider PirateBallerina the appropriate forum for them.