Cover Story

Hating America

Selectively constructing his facts and even his own identity, controversial Colorado professor Ward Churchill embodies the radical left that dominates college campuses

Issue: "Big mouth on campus," March 12, 2005

When the word got out that University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill had called the 9/11 victims "little Eichmanns" who deserved to die, two liberal northeastern schools-Hamilton College and Wheaton College (in Massachusetts, not the evangelical college in Illinois)-canceled his scheduled speaking engagements.

But not the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, a school of 10,000 students in a small rural town in the Midwest. Mr. Churchill, an Indian-rights activist, had been invited to be a speaker for the annual Native Pride Week months before the controversy broke out. Despite pressure to cancel his appearance-including a 67 to 31 vote on a resolution to do so in the state legislature-Chancellor Jack Miller allowed the talk to go on in the name of free speech.

Not that Mr. Churchill's speech was free. He charged $4,000. But Mr. Miller said that no tax dollars would go for the event, just private funds and compulsory student-activity fees. Thus, UW-Whitewater, with its biggest draw an award-winning business program, had its business students pay for Mr. Churchill to say how the accountants, MBAs, and executives who died at the World Trade Center were part of the "technocratic core of empire" who deserved what they got.

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On March 1, the evening of Mr. Churchill's talk, a group of Hochunk Indians demonstrated against him, carrying signs that read "Turtle Natives Against Hate," "Do Not Attend," and the post-9/11 rallying cry "United We Stand." "We are real natives," Miriam Whiteagle told WORLD, alluding to Mr. Churchill's false claim of being an Indian. "He doesn't speak for us."

As the 400 people who snatched up the tickets for the student-only event stood in line to enter the auditorium, 9-year-old Manner Whiteagle regaled them with a chant of "Stop Hate!" while his grandmother Marlys lectured them on the Constitution.

To counter Mr. Churchill's talk, the College Republicans sponsored a candlelight prayer vigil in memory of the 9/11 victims. "We asked the university to reconsider sponsoring Ward Churchill's speech," the president of the group, Steve Maio, told WORLD, "but we are not trying to stop it. We are exercising our free speech."

The College Democrats were invited to join them in the vigil, but declined. Instead, they joined with the Green Party and held a "free speech" march down the main street of Whitewater (pop. 12,000).

At the prayer vigil, some 150 students stood in the snow and the bone-chilling Wisconsin cold, listening to speeches and holding candles. About a dozen pro-Churchill demonstrators showed up too, holding signs: "Capitalism Is Terrorism," "End Imperialism of the People," and "Agents of Repression."

An elderly gentleman held a sign that read, "If only the guilty get killed then there won't be any more right wing government in the U.S.A." WORLD asked him, do you really think right wingers should be killed? "I'm just stating a hypothetical," he replied. "There is all this talk about the innocent being killed. I think we should think about the guilty being killed." Do you agree with what Ward Churchill said about the 9/11 victims? "Oh, yes," he said, identifying himself as George Adams, an English professor at UW-Whitewater.

As the vigil went on, the pro-Churchill protesters started chanting slogans, such as "No blood for oil!," drowning out the speakers. During the prayer, they used a bullhorn. During the moment of silence, they blared out obscenities.

The emcee, talk-radio show host and author Charles Sykes, underscored how the leftists were showing their true colors and noted the irony: Supposed free-speech advocates were trying to shut down free speech.

Inside, Mr. Churchill's delivery was like a hellfire-and-damnation preacher with no belief in salvation. He spoke without a text, rambling and sometimes shouting. He got some laughs with sarcasm against his critics. He yelled at the large media contingent-101 press passes were issued-for not telling the truth about him and for ignoring him up until now.

The students in the audience were hushed at his tirade on the evils of their country. Many seemed stunned. About two-thirds of the crowd broke out into applause sometimes and gave him a standing ovation. The rest were polite but silent.

Mr. Churchill was supposed to speak on the topic "Racism against the American Indian," but instead he defended-and even extended-what he said about the 9/11 victims. He said that he had not "justified" or "advocated" the terrorist attacks, but just drew attention to a natural fact. "What you put out, you will get back." America has been doing this sort of thing to other people throughout its history, he said. "The American public thinks if it's done to us, it's an atrocity." He said that "if you do it to others, you can't complain when they do it to you."

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