Friday, February 11, 2005

Incendiary in Academia May Now Find Himself Burned

BOULDER, Colo., Feb. 10 - Prof. Ward L. Churchill has made a career at the University of Colorado out of pushing people's buttons, colleagues and students say, clearly relishing his stance as radical provocateur and in-your-face critic.

Whether it is getting arrested by the Denver police for trying to disrupt Columbus Day, which Professor Churchill has described as a "celebration of genocide" because of the deaths of Indians that resulted from European colonization, or ruffling feathers in the faculty lounge, hyperbole and bombast have always been ready tools in the Churchill kit bag, people here say.

Now many of the offended are pushing back. The storm of controversy that has blown up around Professor Churchill over his essay about the Sept. 11 attacks, with its reference to the Nazi Adolf Eichmann - the "technocrats" at the World Trade Center were "little Eichmanns," Professor Churchill said - has turned the professor into a talking point and a political punch line. On conservative talk radio, on campuses across the country, and especially here in Boulder, debate about Professor Churchill means debate about freedom of speech, the solemnity of Sept. 11 and the supposed liberal bias of academia.