Thursday, February 17, 2005

Churchill and Fraudulent Affirmative Action

The Rocky Mountain News carries a op-ed by a law professor at the University of Colorado on Ward Churchill. Link.
Academics claim to despise censorship, but the truth is we do a remarkably good job of censoring ourselves. This is especially true in regard to affirmative action. Who among us can claim to have spoken up every time a job candidate almost as preposterous as Churchill was submitted for our consideration? Things like the Churchill fiasco are made possible by a web of lies kept intact by a conspiracy of silence.

The University of Colorado hired Churchill onto its faculty because he claimed to be an American Indian. Anyone who has the slightest familiarity with research universities can glance at his résumé and state this with something close to complete confidence.

Churchill thus represents the reductio ad absurdum of the contemporary university's willingness to subordinate all other values to affirmative action. When such a grotesque fraud - a white man pretending to be an Indian, an intellectual charlatan spewing polemical garbage festooned with phony footnotes, a shameless demagogue fabricating imaginary historical incidents to justify his pathological hatreds, an apparent plagiarist who steals and distorts the work of real scholars - manages to scam his way into a full professorship at what is still a serious research university, we know the practice of affirmative action has hit rock bottom. Or at least we can hope so.

The author, Paul Campos, is Hispanic and freely admits that he has been helped by affirmative action, which he supports in principal. It is not the principal, but the way it often is applied, with which he takes exception. When it is a close call, the desire for "diversity" can tip the scales in favor of a minority applicant. However, when it is not a close call, how low is a university willing to drop its standards in order to increase minority participation in the faculty?

To hire a person with Churchill's lack of qualifications displays the "racism of low expectations." The powers that be in U of C must have believed that no Native American could meet their standards for a white male, or else they would have looked for one, rather than hire Ward Churchill.


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