HAW Statement on Ward Churchill
February 16, 2005
Historians Against the War (HAW) deplores the current effort by the Governor of Colorado and some members of the University of Colorado's Board of Regents to dismiss Prof. Ward Churchill, apparently for an essay that Prof. Churchill wrote regarding the attacks of September 11, 2001.
One of the missions of Historians Against the War is to raise awareness of, and resist, threats to academic freedom. We see these threats as part of a larger assault on civil liberties at home that has accompanied the Bush administration's war in Iraq and larger "War on Terror." In response to these threats, HAW has authored resolutions endorsed by both the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians affirming the need for free speech and open debate and rejecting efforts to stifle it. We feel that the current campaign against Prof. Churchill is just such an effort, and is part of a larger campaign to silence dissent within and outside the academy.
HAW defends Prof. Churchill's right as a citizen and a member of his university community to speak his mind on issues of public concern without endangering his employment. This right is a fundamental part of academic freedom. The vigorous exercise of this right, whether or not one agrees with a particular speaker's sentiments, is the keystone of our educational and political systems.
On February 3, following a meeting of the University of Colorado's Board of Regents, interim chancellor of the Boulder campus Phil DiStefano announced that an investigation of Churchill's "writings, speeches, tape recordings and other works" would soon commence to determine whether or not they "overstepped his bounds as a faculty member, showing cause for dismissal."
HAW believes that the very notion that the opinions expressed in a faculty member's works might constitute grounds for dismissal constitutes a form of McCarthyism. We ask the Chancellor and Regents to immediately shut down this "investigation." And we urge our members to contact the following officials, to politely, but firmly express their views on this matter.
30 Day Review Board:
Phil DiStefano Interim Chancellor
Todd. T. Gleeson Arts & Sciences Dean
University of Colorado System President
Board of Regents
Jerry G. Rutledge, Chair
Gail Schwartz, Vice Chair P.O. Box 6578 Snowmass Village, CO
Steve Bosley P.O. Box 270509 Louisville, CO 80027
Tom Lucero P.O. Box 921 Johnstown, CO 80534