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Bill O'Reilly Unhappy - "Due Process" Takes Too Long

Reported by Marie Therese - June 21, 2005

Bill O'Reilly's war against U of Colorado Ethinic Studies professor Ward Churchill has run into two big obstacles: The First Amendment and due process! As many of you know, last February Bill O'Reilly launched an all-out assault on Churchill, calling for the professor to be fired from his tenured position at the University. O'Reilly enlisted the help of several others in his jihad: Conservative talk show host, Craig Silverman of Denver's KHOW radio, conservative Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi, conservative anti-academic madman David Horowitz, conservative University of Colorado law professor Paul Campos, conservative Republican Gov. Bill Owens of Colorado and conservative Native American and Horowitz buddy David Yeagley.

At first this unholy cabal had all the momentum going for them. Virtually all of Churchill's speaking engagements were canceled, largely the result of anonymous death threats. The President of the University of Colorado, Elizabeth Hoffman, was forced to resign. Legions of right-wing media hacks delved into the minutiae of Churchill's life, uncovering a few odd tidbits from Churchill's past. These (coupled with another barrage of threats) were enough to compel the Board of Regents of the University of Colorado to convene a hearing, questioning Churchill's right to his tenured position. Churchill was forced to resign as Chairman of the Ethnic Studies Department. A KHOW camera crew ambushed him in the hallway at the University, goading him into shoving the cameraman. O'Reilly went on a tear day after day, vilifiying Churchill as a traitor to America because he wrote things and held ideas that O'Reilly did not like.

Mercifully, the legal system in Colorado allowed Professor Churchill substantial opportunity to rebut the claims that have been made against him.

In the interim, some dramatic counter-moves on the part of the academic community seriously slowed the runaway train of right-wing character assassination. The Universities of Hawaii and Wisconsin refused to cancel Churchill's speaking engagements. He was invited to give a lecture in San Francisco, an event that was broadcast on C-SPAN. The University of Colorado panel adjourned to consider the facts of the case. That was months ago.

O'Reilly's mo-jo doesn't seem to be working. He, Craig Silverman and David Harsanyi met again last night [June 20, 2005] on The O'Reilly Factor to rehash their so-called "evidence," but the mood was decidedly gloomy.

O'REILLY: ... But, you know, look, if you've got a head of a department up there - Ethnic Studies Department - at Boulder and you got allegations that the guy fabricated historical stuff to make his own country look bad [Chuchill is a proponent of the theory that in 1837 smallpox-impregnated blankets were deliberately given to the Mandan Indians to speed their demise], allegations of plagiarism, allegations that he copied paintings and sold them [Churchill claims that he has proof that he was given permission to copy the painting by the artist over 25 years ago] and all these things are in the paper [the Rocky Mountain News] basically confirmed by the investigators who checked them out. I don't understand why this guy's still sittin' up there in his, in his office, do you?

HARSANYI: Well, let's imagine he wasn't a fraud for a moment. Do you think it would be OK for him to be sitting there after the things he said about 9-11?

O'REILLY (overtalks last two words): It would be tough, though, it would be very tough ...

HARSANYI: It would be tough.

O'REILLY: ... to fire him for freedom of speech but academic deficiency and fraud - alleged fraud - that's easy to get rid of him. How do you see it, Craig?

SILVERMAN: Well, those Nazi comparisons are really offensive [Churchill wrote in an angry essay that some of the people who died in the World Trade Center were "little Eichmanns"] but it was just a jumping off point for the intellectually curious among us and as we looked into Ward Churchill we determined that indeed he makes things up in order to personally profit and to incite bad feelings against the United States. That 1837 smallpox outbreak, which according to all prominent historians was accidental, he attributes that to the deliberate misconduct of the U. S. Army, who poisoned - whose biological agents against over 100,000 Mandan Indians to slaughter them all. There's no historical support for that but Ward Churchill has taught that to the point where, as the Rocky Mountain News set forth, there's scholarly seepage. Other people are starting to quote him. That's a scary thing. That's intolerable for many academics.

[COMMENT: In rebuttal to Silverman's inane remarks, I reprint here what News Hound Judy, a professor of Ethinic Studies, wrote regarding the question of smallpox:

"Thomas Brown [the man who first accused Churchill of plagiarism] is a sociologist, not an historian, let alone an historian of Native American studies. One of the sources he cites is from 1945, for crying out loud. For an assistant professor of sociology to declare that he can "set the historical record straight" in an eight-page essay quoting scholarship that is decades old is ridiculous. The matter of genocide as it pertains to Native Americans is a contested issue among historians. They disagree with each other. It is hardly academic fraud to hold one viewpoint instead of another."

"Nevertheless, Indians then and now blame the military for deliberately spreading smallpox through infected blankets. In a speech on the day he died of smallpox, Mandan chief Four Bears blamed whites for the disease and told his people they should "rise all together and not leave one of them alive," even though the Mandans had always had peaceful relations with them. There has to be some reason why the Indians in the U.S. died at much higher rates of smallpox than did those in Canada, where the government aggressively encouraged smallpox vaccination among tribes. Brown says Congress appropriated money for vaccination, but he doesn't say how effectively any such program was implemented."

Ward Churchill has written 25 scholarly books on the topic of Native American history and is a recognized authority on the subject. Guess that doesn't matter to Silverman, who finds the concept of free exchange of academic ideas "intolerable." ]

O'REILLY: OK. But the question is why is he still up there in Boulder? I mean, we've got everything on the record now,


O'REILLY: And it looks like everything is true. The guy is a fraud.

SILVERMAN: Due process, Bill.


SILVERMAN: Due process.

O'REILLY (looking bemused, incredulous): Due process.

SILVERMAN: He's entitled - there are procedures in place. There's a standing committee on [indecipherable] .....

O'REILLY (overtalks last 6 words): Craig, do you think you'd last that long at KH - wait a minute, Craig!


O'REILLY: You think you'd last that long at KHOW if you made up stories on the air ...


O'REILLY: ... and they came back at said .. .


O'REILLY: You think if you started to plagiarize The Factor and said: This is Craig Silverman on KHOW ....


O'REILLY: ... and used my Talking Points Memo, you'd last more than 24 hours?


O'REILLY: Let's drop the nonsense. There's somethin' goin' on up at Boulder that

SILVERMAN: I'm - no, you're right, but I'm not a tenured talk show host. Tenure offers certain protections and in these educational institutions they have a contract which entitles them to these kinds of protections ...

O'REILLY (louder): Well, how long does is this gonna go on now?

SILVERMAN: ... much different than the media business. It could go on another year or two.

O'REILLY (feigning surprise): Wow! He's gonna be sittin' up there, David, another year or two. Ya' really think that's gonna happen?

HARSANYI; Sure. This is due, this is due process forever. But I want to point out there's a hypocrisy here. In DePaul, for instance, there's a professor named Thomas Klocek who's just thrown out for saying a few pro-Israel things to a Palestinian crowd ...


HARSANYI: ... you know, and that's the problem.

SILVERMAN: But he didn't have tenure ..

O'REILLY: Well, I don't know, I don't know ...

HARSANYI: He did not have tenure. That's true.

O'REILLY: ... if he had tenure or not.

HARSANYI: He did not have tenure.

O'REILLY: It's just a matter of what the University is going to face. But, look, the affirmative action thing looks to be bogus too ...

SILVERMAN (shakes his head): Right.

O'REILLY: ... as the Cherokee tribe says we don't know this guy. We don't have any record of him at all.


O'REILLY: So that alone

SILVERMAN: You know the Rock ...

O'REILLY: Go ahead, Craig.

SILVERMAN: No. The Rocky Mountain News - their issue should have been rated X - they thoroughly undressed Ward Churchill. There was a time in his life that he might have thought he was an American Indian but long ago he realized that there was nothing to support that claim, yet he checked the box. But in 1993 when the American Indian Movement brought it to the attention of the University, they said: We're not going to look into it.

O'REILLY: They don't care. Thank you, gentleman, as always.


To hell with the Constituion and that pesky old "due process." Such annoying impediments to the systematic, calculated and persistent destruction of another human being.

Down with the right of free speech as guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States. Down with measured inquiry and lengthy deliberation!

Why should the likes of O'Reilly, Silverman and Harsanyi be hampered by the niceties and complexities of the law?

Frontier justice.

That's what they crave - some illusory world where men are men, women are "wimmin" and the jails and hangman's noose are never empty.

Book 'em, convict 'em and string 'em up - all in a day's work.

Like "likker." Quick, neat and pain numbing.

A pox on them dirty, filthy lawyers and their dirty, filthy rules.

They just get in the way of a guy's fun!


UPDATED 6/21/05 11:20 PM EDT

This post was altered to reflect the fact that there was a error on my part. The words "this accusation has been totally debunked, as O'Reilly knows" have been deleted. Although it doesn't affect the premise of the post, i.e., that O'Reilly is impatient in the face of "due process," it explains why it may take a year or two for a decision to be reached by CU.

There is a 12 year old open question of plagiarism involving Canadian researcher Fay Cohen and Ward Churchill, discussed in the Rocky Mountain News. Churchill denies the allegation; Cohen is silent on the subject, having never filed a complaint at the time of the original event.

You can read about it at Rocky Mountain News.

Thanks to our reader trb for bringing this to my attention.

Marie Therese

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