Thursday, December 14, 2006

Fallout from Ward

The controversy over fired University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill is sending ripples around the country. Not only was Colorado president Elizabeth Hoffman forced to resign under attack because she refused to immediately fire Churchill, but now the Manchester Union-Leader has written an editorial declaring that U of Colorado professor Jack Burns, who was vice president for academic affairs, should not be hired as president of the University of New Hampshire because he did not condemn Churchill and raised the issue of academic freedom. The editorial includes a serious misrepresentation, falsely implying that a U of Colorado investigation found that Churchill had lied about his race. According to the editorial, academic freedom must not include "political propaganda masquerading as scholarship." But who do we trust to define when someone has good scholarship or "propaganda"? That would be like saying that we should protect freedom of the press when a newspaper offers a legitimate opinion, but not when it says something false. The Union-Leader thinks not only that Ward Churchill should have no academic freedom, but also that anyone who fails to destroy his academic freedom should be banned from leadership in higher education. That's giving censorship a patina of respectability, and the Union-Leader is disgracing itself by doing so.

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