Skip to comments.9-11 Outrage: Hamilton College, Ward Churchill, and Jerry Springer
Posted on 01/29/2005 5:03:33 PM PST by Jatreus
[The following article was written by an alumnus of Hamilton College protesting the Colleges recent decision to invite a radical Ward Churchill to speak on campus. Hamilton invited Churchill to speak in support of an essay he wrote saying that America needed more 9-11s, and comparing the people killed at the Trade Center to war criminal Adolph Eichmann.]
Ward and Nancy: Hamilton Goes Jerry Springer (Again), by James Bohan
First, Nancy Rabinowitz invited Susan Rosenberg to teach "Resistance Memoirs: Writing, Identity and Change," a month-long, seminar as part of the Kirkland Project's "artist- and activist-in-residence" program. Susan, formerly of the Weather Underground, had been sentenced in 1984 to 58 years in jail for, among other things, possessing more than 700 pounds of explosives "with intent to kill and injure." (She committed numerous other crimes that the prosecutors chose not to prosecute simply because it looked like she would spend the rest of her life in jail on the explosives charge. Susan was released, not because she was exonerated of crimes for which she was convicted, but because President Clinton pardoned her on his last day in office. For more details on her extensive criminal history, see http://www.opinionjournal.com/taste/?id=110005979 .)
Susan's qualifications to teach the course (apart from a life of crime): writing an unpublished memoir and getting a correspondence degree in writing, both done as she paid a fraction of her debt to society. Oh, and of course there's Susan's pedigree and a connection with Nancy and her husband. Susan grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the daughter of a dentist, attended the exclusive Walden School, and made the obligatory trip to Cuba as teen to participate in a "Youth Work Brigade." Her chief cohort in crime during her time the Weather Underground was Kathy Boudin. Boudin's father and Nancy's father-in-law are named partners in the same New York City law firm: Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky, and Lieberman. (Family ties run strong in the Rabinowitz clan: Nancy's husband, Peter, teaches with his wife in Hamilton's Comparative Literature Department.)
Ultimately, the firestorm surrounding Susan's selection prompted her to withdraw. In an e-mail message, she wrote that she withdrew because "the atmosphere of such organized right-wing intimidation from a small group of students and faculty" would not be productive. But her selection was opposed by more that just a select few, and it will have ramifications that extend far beyond Nancy's burgeoning reputation for poor judgment. According to a December 10, 2004, article in The Spectator, Dick Tantillo, Vice President for Communication and Development, stated that "scores of national media markets" portrayed Susan's hiring "in a negative light"; that hundreds of alumni, parents, and friends of the college had contacted it to express their disapproval; that many of them threatened to refuse to contribute to the college; and that the losses could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Annual Fund. Dean of Admission Monica Inzer told The Spectator that hundreds of prospective applicants or their families contacted the college to say that they were no longer considering Hamilton because of Rosenberg's selection.
Now, as if she hasn't done enough damage, Nancy is at it again. This time she and her followers at the Kirkland Project have invited Ward Churchill to speak on his internet essay, "Some People Push Back." You may remember Ward's piece; it received a great deal of attention in the media shortly after 9-11. In the work, Ward not only invokes the metaphor that America's chickens had come home to roost; while rescue workers were still sifting through the rubble of the Trade Center and Pentagon looking for survivors, Ward branded the victims of 9-11 "little Eichmanns" (referring to Adolph Eichmann, the notorious German war criminal convicted and executed by Israel for his role in the Holocaust).
Ward's essay brims with vitriol. (The entire essay is at http://www.kersplebedeb.com/mystuff/s11/churchill.html.) His admiration shows through he writes about the terrorists responsible for the carnage on 9-11: "They finally responded in kind to some of what this country has dispensed to their people as a matter of course. That they waited to do so ... more than anything is a testament to their patience and restraint." They "manifested the courage of their convictions, willingly expending their own lives in attaining their objectives." The military and civilian workers killed and maimed at the Pentagon were not "innocent civilians": "The building and those inside comprised military targets, pure and simple." And the persons killed at the Trade Center-the poor wretches forced to choose between leaping to their deaths or being incinerated, those crushed when the buildings collapsed-Ward argues they weren't "innocent" either: "They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire...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." In Ward's distorted reality, the carnage wrought on September 11 is not terror; it is justice.
Ward's field of expertise is Native American issues. If he were asked to speak at Hamilton on those issues, I would not be troubled. But Nancy is not asking him to speak on his scholarly writings or anything else related to his field of expertise. Nancy, is inviting Ward to speak simply because he is controversial (and, of course, because his radical political agenda happens to coincide with hers).
Certain infants, I am told, have an urge to put their fingers in electrical sockets. Most outgrow this penchant. But Nancy appears to be one of those rare individuals in whom the fascination persists into adulthood. She looks for the most charged outlet that she can find (always "left," as opposed to "positive" or "negative"), and then grabs the contact-even when she's been zapped before. What's more annoying, Nancy has a habit of insisting that everyone else connected to Hamilton hold her hand each time she tests the current. I wonder when Nancy will finally smarten up-and when the others at Hamilton will stop holding her hand if she doesn't.
Some Logic 101 for Nancy and her ilk: one cannot validly conclude that, because some intellectual messages are controversial, all controversial messages are intellectual. When individuals are selected for academic programs simply because they are controversial, you end up with the Jerry Springer Show-not an "academic" program in any meaningful sense of the word. (A prediction: Unless it happens to be boycotted, Ward's speech will end up looking much like Jerry Springer.) And, we've already had some very Jerry-Springer-like programs at Hamilton. Consider, Annie Sprinkle's program on campus. In a recent column in The Wall Street Journal, Roger Kimball notes that, in 2002, the "pornography star and performance artist came to Hamilton to regale students and members of the local community about the proper use of sexual appliances."
The College has become a laughing stock. In 2001, we had the visiting chemistry professor who preyed upon desperate couples and bilked investors as she tried to clone a baby for a group believing in aliens. In 2002, the college president resigned after admitting plagiarism. (To make matters worse, the Board of Trustees then proceeded to name an endowed chair after him.) In the last year, Hamilton has made headlines with the Susan Rosenberg fiasco, had two freshmen cocaine dealers featured in a June Village Voice article, and now looks forward to another media onslaught on the Ward Churchill invitation. I feel sorry for those members of the faculty who still care about the College; they deserve better. And I pity the students who must someday venture into the real world with this utterly avoidable millstone around their necks.
college campuses are so left leaning and anti-American! We need to stand up now to the tyranny of socialism and secularism that is promoted on our campuses.
Perhaps other families who have received large sums of taxpayer money to recompense for the loss of their loved one will think twice about spending that money on a college education at this type of school.
I no longer trust the college degrees of recent graduates. Many high school graduates are more committed to work and more competent, too.
Representatives of Hamilton College have argued that the College should proceed to afford Churchill a platform for his view because the College believes in "free speech." However, this argument is a canard.
According to yesterday's Rocky Mountain News, Hamilton spokeswoman Vige Barrie, defended Churchill's invitation saying, "When Ward Churchill was invited, last summer, no one here was aware of those 9/11 comments." (The News wasn't fooled. It noted, "But the small liberal arts college was aware when it started advertising his appearance... It [the advertising] states that the title of Churchill's talk is to be 'Some People Push Back' - the very title of his controversial essay.")
Now, if Hamilton is so supportive of free speech, why should it matter that "no one here was aware of those 9/11 comments." Isn't the implication that, if Hamilton knew, it wouldn't have invited him to speak? And, if in fact the College wouldn't have invited him to speak knowing of the comments, why not "uninvite" him because of the comments?
The Rocky Mountain News article also reports Barrie said that the College intended to add two other persons to the Churchill's presentation: "Churchill's fellow panelists, as the program is currently planned, include Hamilton philosophy professor Richard Werner, and CU ethnic studies professor Natsu Saito. Saito is married to Churchill, although that relationship is not noted on the Hamilton program." If the goal of the presentation is a free and open discussion, why are the organizers stacking the panel? And why are they so afraid to fully disclose the relationship between the two participants?
I think Vige meant that the college didn't mean to bring a speaker that would upset so many people, but since he has been invited it would set a precedent of the college backing down to outraged people who don't know how to have a respectful academic discussion concerning issues they don't agree with. It's not that Hamilton is a flip-flopper on the freedom of speech issue, but, like most private institutions in this country, it never wants bad press. Conservatives in this country are so self-righteous they think if a school like Hamilton invites a speaker like Churchill to speak on a panel, they must therefore be in support of his views. Instead, this kind of discussion must be used to make us think about the reasons why Churchill is wrong, and gives us the opportunity to question his ideas upfront.
"I no longer trust the college degrees of recent graduates. Many high school graduates are more committed to work and more competent, too."
Before you condemn a the entire student body perhaps you should take some time to talk to the rest of the students and professors on the Hamilton Campus. I think you would be surprised to find that their views and interests differ greatly from the views and interests of Nacy Rabinowitz, and more importantly from those of Ward Churchill and Susan Rosenberg.
I also find it difficult to imagine how you can draw the conclusion that recent Hamilton graduates are less committed to work and less competent than many high school students based purely on the fact that the Kirkland Project invited Ward Churchill to speak at t panel discussion. This logic is incredibly flawed.
The vast majority of students at Hamilton are capable of thinking independently, and if you would like to sit down and talk with a student, I would be more than willing. I am convinced that I would be able to prove to you that a Hamilton degree is not a sham, and that many Hamilton students are incredibly competent and committed to work.
I'd just like to reply to the claim that a Hamilton College degree cannot be trusted and furthermore that the students are not rigorous workers.
I myself am a student on the dean's list at Hamilton College and would like to defend the institution. The righter of this comment must be unaware that in recent years, admission to the College has become more competitive. The school is ranked 19th among US Liberal Arts Schools by US News & World Report. Prior to attending Hamilton, I graduated from a nationally-recognized high school with an unweighted GPA of 3.98.
I was also admitted to several other similar liberal arts schools including Colgate, Middlebury, and Union Colleges. To insult the student body of Hamilton is to directly insult me, as a scholar. On behalf of the entire college, I urge you to recognize that this is an institution of higher learning, and that the school is growing in strength rather than declining.
"The righter of this comment"...
So, what are your thoughts on Ward Churchill, as long as you're hanging around?
But you should be.
I think once the blogosphere disposes of Mr. Churchill's "expertise" on those matters, you will be sorry you ever heard of him.
Well, inviting his wife to be the second of three panelists while concealing the relationship does raise that question, eh?
Welcome, scholar. Although, in the interests of full disclosure, I only went to Colgate.
Fortunately, though, when I went there, philosophy and logic were still required courses.
Please re-read your statement above, and if you are still prepared to defend it, explain why you are the embodiment of the Hamilton student body to such an extent that a comment about that collective should be recognized as an insult to you personally.
And oh, by the way -why are your fellow students supinely accepting a barking moonbat as President of the College? She is in a representative, or significatory, role vis-a-vis the College, and although she has associations and interests worse than an unrepentent Nazi, her tenure seems remarkably serene.
To coin a phrase, what's up with that?
Since Feb 3, 2005
Since Jan 31, 2005
Nicely done, sir. Didn't check that, which I normally do.
Try to engage them in discussions, don't stigmatize them by their sign-up dates.
they are smart, most of 'em. If they stick around, they will start to become educated.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.