Churchill's fraud was simple and straightforward: He invented facts, falsely claiming, for example, that the United States adopted a racial code to categorize Indians similar to the infamous Nuremburg Laws enacted by the Nazis. He misrepresented others' scholarship, alleging that one scholar had produced evidence that the U.S. Army gave smallpox-infected blankets to Indians in 1837 when the work he cited said nothing of the sort. He plagiarized, copying sections of a pamphlet by a Canadian environmental group in a piece he wrote on Canadian water issues without attribution. He also published articles under false names so that he could then cite them as independent sources for work he published under his own name.
But the University of Colorado has been engaged in perpetrating its own, albeit more subtle, fraud as well. When the university hires faculty members or admits students on the basis of skin color, when it grants degrees in pseudo-academic fields, when its obsession with "diversity" overrides its devotion to learning, it, too, is acting fraudulently. The Ward Churchills of the academic world could not exist without the complicity of the universities that hire them.
CU is by no means alone. A report entitled "How Many Ward Churchills?" by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni suggests, "In colleges and universities across the country, in both traditional disciplines and new-fangled programs, the classes offered and the faculty who teach them are displaying an ideological slant that is frequently as uniform as it is severe."
After the regents' decision to fire Churchill was announced, a group of CU students donned T-shirts proclaiming, "It's not about scholarship . . . It's about politics." The students meant the slogan as an indictment of the process that led to Churchill's firing. But the irony is the words more accurately describe why CU and many other colleges hire the likes of Ward Churchill in the first place.
Editor's note: Linda Chavez is a graduate of the University of Colorado (B.A. 1970).
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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