Ward Churchill gained notoriety for statements about the 9/11 attacks. The former professor, activist and author angered many when he wrote the attacks were unavoidable because of U.S. foreign policy. He referred to it as “chickens coming home to roost.”
Churchill remains as controversial as ever. But he made a bit of a homecoming Wednesday when he returned to the University of Illinois Springfield campus to give a lecture on activism. Rachel Otwell has this report:
Full audio of Churchill’s lecture:
Churchill taught at the University of Colorado before he was fired for academic misconduct. However, his supporters believe it was fallout from the 9/11 backlash and he’s still fighting that dismissal. These days though, Churchill is more of a full time political activist.
But he’s not your typical “hippie” or “leftie” either.
For instance- If it were up to Churchill, who was born in Urbana, carrying guns in Illinois would have been legalized long ago.
CHURCHILL: “Got (a) concealed-carry permit in my pocket, ok? That’s just to me a no-brainer. All my right-wing critics are often amazed.”
Still he’s definitely not winning many, if any, of those critics over on that point alone. And it’s not the only contradiction when it comes to Churchill. From his military resume to claims of Native American ancestry, a lot about Ward Churchill is open to interpretation.
But one thing for certain, Churchill’s motivated for activism. He says that comes from a consciousness he arrived at in the late 60s…
CHURCHILL: “Being conscripted into the US military, ending up in Viet Nam in the wrong side of a colonial war.”
Activism in America has come a long way since the days of Viet Nam push-back and protests from college students. Churchill says the video-recorders, which members of today’s Occupy movement are more likely to carry than guns are important. But he says for an activist not to arm his or herself is a concession of power.
CHURCHILL: “We could have used a few more recorders and some of these assets that you have available; would have been really nice to be able to instantaneously record and transmit things police were doing in those days but availing ourselves of those technologies had they been available at the time would not have supplanted the need for the capacity to engage in armed self-defense.”
The topics Churchill addressed while speaking to a crowd of about 40 people at the University of Illinois Springfield went far off topic from activism.
He claimed that plagiarism and fraudulence in the media is expansive and that all phones are equipped with GPS tracking and technology users should be wary.
UIS’ Radical Student Union organized the event. The group had help from the relatively new community organization based in Springfield, Foundation for a United Front, which invited Churchill to speak.
Richard Gilman-Opalsky is a professor at UIS and the faculty advisor for the Radical Student Union. He gives credit to the students for their ongoing activism and events…even if it causes controversy…
GILMAN-OPALSKY: “An organization of students that are committed to bringing controversial, marginalized, and yes even dangerous ideas, giving dangerous ideas a forum to be discussed, not just approved but even rejected- challenged and rejected- I do have to say, I’m not personally proud, but very very happy. These things were not happening on this campus when I arrived here in 2006.”
Ward Churchill also spoke at length about the way universities have changed since his days at Sangamon State, including rising costs… the picture he painted for students was dire.
CHURCHILL: “They’re telling you, you have to do it, and society needs you to do it, and the economy needs you to do it…and (you) walk out with nothing but this piece of paper certifying your employability and you’re already indentured for the next 30 years with what amounts to a mortgage but you don’t have a house to show for it.”
Churchill says universities these days are more about teaching students information to regurgitate versus critical thinking.