Skip to comments.Campos: Buy off high plains grifter (Ward Churchill)
Posted on 03/15/2005 1:03:34 PM PST by ajolympian2004
In The Great Gatsby, Nick, the naive young narrator, is stunned when he learns that his friend Jay Gatsby's "business associate" Meyer Wolfscheim is the man who fixed the 1919 World Series. "How did he happen to do that?" he asks Gatsby.
"He just saw the opportunity," Gatsby replies. Astonished, Nick asks "why isn't he in jail?" Gatsby responds suavely to his young friend's flustered innocence. "They can't get him, old sport. He's a smart man."
By now, innocent observers might be wondering why "they can't get" Ward Churchill, or at least put him out on the street. The answer is that, like so many talented American con men, from Arnold Rothstein (who actually did fix the 1919 World Series), to Ken Lay and Dennis Kozlowski, he's a smart man.
Churchill has spent his academic career running an increasingly elaborate scam - the sort of thing that's known among grifters as "the long con." Whatever else one might say about Churchill, it must be admitted that he has an abundance of the trait which marks all truly great con men: shameless audacity. Confronted by an academic job market that would normally laugh in the face of someone with his lack of credentials, Churchill hit upon an ingenious scheme: He decided to become an Indian.
Taking advantage of the natural reluctance most people have to question someone's ethnic self-identification, Churchill, who has no detectable Indian ancestry, simply began insisting that he was, in fact, an Indian. Everything that has happened since has been enabled by Churchill's continuing use of that phony claim to get away with the academic equivalent of murder.
Last week, according to a reliable source, the University of Colorado reached an agreement with Churchill, in which he agreed to resign in return for a payment roughly equivalent to three years worth of salary and benefits.
Understandably, this news provoked a firestorm of protest among people who were appalled by the prospect that CU appeared to be rewarding Churchill for his misbehavior. That backlash seems to have killed the deal, at least for the moment.
As a part of the group that Churchill has labeled his "white Republican critics" (I'm actually a Mexican-American Democrat, but, as we have seen, facts aren't professor Churchill's strong point) I'm in favor of the proposed settlement. Here's why.
First, it will likely save the university, and therefore Colorado's taxpayers, a great deal of money. Even if one assumes that in the absence of a deal CU will fire Churchill, and then win the lawsuit he is sure to file, the sum of the settlement is considerably less than what CU will have to pay to defend the lawsuit, which could easily drag on for years.
But there's a far more important consideration: What if, in the end, Churchill wins his suit? He will then spend another 10 or 20 years at a university that will now be helpless to do anything about the situation. With all threat of sanction removed, it's hard to imagine how bad Churchill's behavior is likely to become. Under such circumstances, the damage he might do to the university, and especially to students who are imprudent enough to expect minimal competence and civility from all their professors, is incalculable.
Of course it's extremely distasteful to pay Churchill anything. If life and law were fair, he would have been fired long ago. But they aren't - and one consequence of this is that there's a real risk Churchill will win his lawsuit.
CU already made one disastrous decision when it hired Churchill. It would be even more disastrous not to get rid of this high plains grifter immediately, at what is, all things considered, a bargain price.
Paul Campos is a professor of law at the University of Colorado. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Backed into a corner
Scholars reveal a lot about themselves by their reaction to evidence that they appropriated the work of others without proper attribution.
The late historian Stephen Ambrose, when accused of purloining material for his book on B-24 crews in World War II: "I made a mistake for which I am sorry."
Constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe, when told passages in his God Save this Honorable Court were uncannily similar to those in a book published 11 years earlier: "I personally take full responsibility."
The director emeritus of the Boston Science Museum, Henry Bradford Washburn Jr., when informed that his book The Dishonorable Dr. Cook bore a remarkable likeness to another work published just five years earlier: "You've got to remember you're dealing with a 91-year-old guy here."
The historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, when asked by a Boston Globe reporter whether she'd committed plagiarism by failing to use quotation marks in passages nearly identical to those in another book: "Absolutely not."
Ward Churchill, after the revelation that Dalhousie University in Canada had concluded that he committed plagiarism: "First, it wasn't my piece; second, it wasn't my book; third, it doesn't say I wrote it but helped assemble it."
In order of appearance, we have the following: two repentant sinners, a curmudgeon, a liar and a man trying to resurrect a lucrative job buyout.
Vincent Carroll, editor of the editorial pages, writes On Point Tuesday through Friday. Reach him at carrollv@RockyMountainNews.com
Never pay him off. Let CU hire good lawyers who know their stuff and embarrass Churchill with his lies and cons in the newspapers each day
It's become all too common a practice to succumb to extortion and pay someone off because it's cheaper in the long run. BS, it's time to make a stand, not one penny to this POS
This logic of paying off Ward just to make sure he's gotten rid of is rubbish. It's like saying we should plea-bargain murder cases down to jay-walking "just to make sure" the perp doesn't walk in a trial.
Kick his ass, and send him out the door with a bloody nose and hounds at his heels.
If he was working at any kind of blue-collar job (non-union of course), he'd be lucky to escape.
Good Lord!! Can't we fire anyone on this country anymore?
What a bunch of pathetic chipmunks!!!
I say they should continue to employ him. However, inform him that his office is now located in Baghdad [outside the green zone! :].
i agree with rush:
just leave churchill at cu-boulder.
he's a monument to liberalism run amok.
some students will laugh at him, and well they should. others will learn that he's a fraud.
Fine with me - settle with the bastard - and then anyone and everyone who has a valid cause of action against Fraudy McIndian should immediately file suit against him (plagiarism, copyright infringement, fraud) and he can watch that settlement dwindle to nothing in a matter of months in lawyers' fees).
Churchill's comments in that last bit sound a lot like John
F-ing Kerry... Maybe they have the same excuse, er, speech-writer.
FYI: There is serious discussion here in Colorado among the powers that be to form a 'Dept. of Conservative Studies' at CU. Now that would be a model for schools across the nation to follow IMHO.
yo' be kidding.
a department of conservative studies?
why not invite rush from the excellence in broadcasting over for a guest lecture on the campi?
and some of his distinguished associates:
hedgecock. williams. sullivan. praeger. dr. laura.
CU needs a football coach...
I'm taking bets here..
Just for talkin purposes.. Lets say Ward Curchill finally gets "Let Go" by CU...
I'm betting that UC Berkley picks him up..
Or IU Bloomington..
There are dozens of lefty whackos running America's colleges and universities who want to spit Ward Churchill back in conservative America's face.
If Churchill gets fired for cause that includes academic fraud he will not ever be hired by any reputable college or university anywhere in America. Plagairism and stealing another's artwork crosses the line even for those arguing freedom of speech and/or academic freedom. Ward Churchill doesn't meet any known minumum standard for becoming a tenured professor. No one will want this albatross, IMHO.
you will remember that all of this churchill do-do
comes one year after david horowitz was in denver convincing the state of colorado legislature that hiring practices at the 3 state universities were unfair.
some have boulder faculty pegged at 65:1 left and liberal:conservative.
he convinced the legislators to pass a bill for owens to sign requiring fairness in hiring faculty.
but then the universities were threatened, and they ran down to denver and yelled, oh no! don't do that. we'll open up our hiring to conservatives.
and now they've got churchill on their hands.
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