Monday, January 31, 2005
New York, USA — Students and professors at New York‘s Hamilton College have raised protests over an invitation to the controversial ethics professor, Ward Churchill, to participate in a panel at the college. The main objection is related to comments by Mr. Churchill, chairman of the ethnic studies from the University of Colorado, who in a paper written after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, compared the victims of the attack to “little Eichmanns“.
Churchill’s paper, entitled “Some People Push Back”, charges that all American citizens are complicit in the “genocide of 500,000 Iraqi children,” which he maintains occurred during the Gulf War as a direct result of military actions and the destruction of infrastructure and the water supply. Due to their inaction and empowerment of the American government, he compares American citizens to “Good Germans.” He also charges that the inhabitants of the targets of attack, namely the Pentagon and World Trade Center, have a dubious claim to the title “Innocent Civilians,” as the Pentagon was a military target and the WTC was home to many who he alleges profited from the Iraqi Genocide.
Administrators defended Professor Churchill’s appearance despite the fact that some considered his views repugnant and disparaging.
According to Hamilton College spokesman Michael DeBraggio: “Hamilton, like any institution committed to the free exchange of ideas, invites to its campus people of diverse opinions, often controversial.”
The University of Colorado’s Interim Chancellor Phil Distefano said in a statement:”I wish to make it clear that Professor Ward Churchill’s views of the events of 9/11 are his own and do not represent the views of University of Colorado faculty, staff, students, administration or Regents. While I may personally find his views offensive, I also must support his right as an American citizen to hold and express his views, no matter how repugnant, as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution.”
The professor’s opinions divided New York’s Hamilton College, where Churchill is scheduled to speak. Jessica Miraglia, a student at Hamilton, created a poster defending the professor reading “You don’t have to agree with them in order to learn from them.”. Sophomore Matt Coppo, who lost his father in the World Trade Center attacks was angered over the invitation to Churchill. “Knowing that I’m paying for a person to disrespect my father, it doesn’t go over too well in my mind.”
Two congressmen from Colorado asked professor Churchill to apologize for comparing victims of the 9/11 World Trade Center attack to Nazis. Professor Churchill has said that he will not back off his statement.