ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

Churchill Ad Infinitum

July 20, 2005 by ACTA

Ward Churchill defends himself at length in an interview with CounterPunch. Responding with extended and convoluted gusto to the charges that he is a falsifier of historical fact and a plagiarist of others' prose, Churchill also deflects attention from himself by levelling accusations at others who, he claims, are guilty of precisely the kinds of intellectual crimes and misdemeanors of which he himself is innocent. Michelle Malkin comes in for some particularly harsh condemnation:

WC: Take the issue of plagiarism, for example. I'm currently--and falsely--accused of it. The allegations have been advanced in a tone of tremendous indignation from the right and attended for the most part by endless tongue clicking on the left. Everybody's suddenly worried about whether I gave proper attribution to a left environmental group in Canada when using material included in a 12-page pamphlet they produced in 1972. Well, I did. But here's the key. While you've got a feature on this weighty "controversy" in the Rocky Mountain News, a follow-up editorial in Boulder's Daily Camera, and the area Clear Channel stations having devoted maybe 24 solid hours to it over the past couple of weeks, you've had not a single word said in any medium about Michelle Malkin.

JF: Why Malkin?

WC: Well, she came out with a book titled In Defense of Internment in 2004, highly touted in hard right circles, that not only seeks to justify the mass internment of Japanese and Japanese Americans during World War II but argues that the same procedure could be used against Arabs and Arab Americans today. Setting aside the squalor of her thesis, and the gross distortions of data to which she resorts in "supporting" it, the fact is that the bulk of her argument on the World War II internment derives from a fairly obscure right-winger named Lillian Baker. Yet Baker's material is cited nowhere in Malkin's book. In fact, she isn't so much as mentioned (perhaps because Baker, who passed away some years back, was exposed by Deborah Lipstadt in Denying the Holocaust as having employed the same "scholarly methods" as neonazi holocaust deniers).

What's the payout for Malkin? Let's start with a stint as a regular commentator--read, pet "minority" (she's Filipina)--on Fox News and Clear Channel. And let's end with an all but total silence about her "scholarly integrity" from the left. Why? Because she worked with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a right-wing think-tank, rather than holding a regular faculty position somewhere? Gimme a break on that one. Her book is used in classes, and she speaks regularly on campuses across the country. If the left is going to indulge in condemning scholarly lapses--real or imaginary--where its own are concerned, it has at the very least an obligation to hold the right accountable to the same standards, and to do so to the best of its ability--through alternative media, if nothing else--using the same tools as the right.

But for the most part it doesn't, and it hasn't even tried for the past quarter-century or more. Look at the record. Michael Bellesiles was destroyed on the basis of what amount at most to trivial mistakes while, on the other hand, you've got John Lott, a right-winger who was revealed to have fabricating an entire survey with which to underpin his contention that the use of firearms reduces social violence. His book, More Guns, Less Crime, has never been revised to eliminate the fraudulent material, yet it's still listed under the imprimatur of the University of Chicago Press and I don't hear any resulting chorus of outrage from left academics about Goth U's "lack of scholarly integrity." Do you?

In an email appended to the interview, Malkin refutes Churchill's claims and threatens to sue him for defamation. The CounterPunch interview is part one of a two part series. More is yet to come. Meanwhile, the commentary at Elephants in Academia--which notes that "Ward Churchill identifies himself as an extremist political activist not a scholar, and to call him a scholar or to place him on the faculty of an esteemed public institution of higher education is a travesty"--is worth a read.

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