Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Attacks continue

The attacks on Native professor, scholar and activist Ward Churchill continue from the right. While I can't say for sure where and why these attacks centered on an essay that Churchill penned over three years ago, it's curious to me why these attacks have come out of left field at this time.

I took some time to listen to Bill O'Reilly's nationally-syndicated radio show and he was doing what he does best--attacking those who he disagrees with and impugning their character and even sanity. He intimated that Churchill and others who don't run up and down Main Street waving a flag (or putting a magnetic yellow ribbon on their SUV) "hate America" and are "loons", even going so far as to make statements about Churchill's appearance.

As I wrote in an op ed that I hope to have published, these attacks are designed to discredit people like Churchill primarily because he is a direct threat to their failed, Eurocentric worldview. Rather than engage Churchill, it's easier to slander his reputation and discredit his scholarship.

This is also a free speech issue. It's a chilling example how those on the right can orchestrate a campaign that incites others to make threats and harass institutions like Hamilton College into having to cancel Churchill's appearance at their school.

I spent several hours sending emails, contacting the Colorado governor's office, as well as calling the president's office at Hamilton. I spoke to a very nice staff person, who told me that Hamilton has never experienced the level of vitriol and irrational outbursts that they've had to deal with the past few days. She told me that many at the school were distraught when the local police insisted that Churchill's appearance be cancelled because of death threats and other threats designed to intimidate and shut down free speech.

Progressives have got to formulate a plan to counter the rhetoric coming from the right, or there won't be any forums left for the dissemination of ideas that exist beyond the pale of right-wing orthodoxy.

No comments: