Controversial CU Professor's Boulder Speech Canceled

Security, Safety Of Students, Cited As Reason For Cancellation

A planned speech by controversial University of Colorado professor Ward Church has been canceled due to security reasons.

CU Professor Ward Churchill came under fire for an essay he wrote about the the World Trade Center attacks.

Boulder CU students who support Churchill held an afternoon news conference and ended it by announcing that his speech set for Tuesday "is off."

A CU spokesman said the decision to cancel the talk was made because there were serious concerns for the safety of students planning to attend the event and for Churchill himself, who reportedly has received numerous death threats.

"We have received reports of threats made to students," said Ron Stump. "We felt it was in the best interests of all concerned to cancel the talk at this time in order to allow us more time to plan for such an event at another time."

The speech, planned for Tuesday, was titled "Ward Churchill speaks on his book: Real Academic Discourse Outside the Filter of the Media."

The tenured ethnic studies professor has received worldwide attention for a 2001 essay that likened World Trade Center victims to a Nazi who set up Adolf Hitler's ethnic cleansing program against the Jews.

The students read a statement that said in part:

"We do not celebrate the 9/11 attack and we, like all Americans, mourn the victims along with the victims' families. Second, we do not encourage further attacks on this nation. Finally, in an effort to prevent the possibility of similar attacks, we as citizens of this nation exercise our right to question our government’s present foreign policies. Our intention has always been to increase the security of our nation."

The furor over Churchill's essay erupted last month after he was invited to speak at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. The college's student newspaper reported on the essay by the American Indian Movement activist that characterized the terrorist attacks as a response to a long history of U.S. abuses abroad, particularly against indigenous peoples.

Gov. Bill Owens has called for Churchill's dismissal. The Colorado Legislature passed nonbinding resolutions last week calling the tenured professor's comments "evil and inflammatory."

Also last week, CU regents announced an investigation into his work to see if it's constitutionally protected free speech or grounds for dismissal from his job in the ethnic studies department. He resigned as chairman of the department.

Churchill has defended his essay, noting that others have written that the attacks shouldn't have been a surprise because of U.S. policies. He said hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children died from starvation and illness because of sanctions imposed after the Gulf war and U.S. military operations.

Additional Information:

  • To read Churchill's complete essay, "Some People Push Back," click here
  • To read what Churchill has to say in his defense, click here.
  • To read Gov. Owens' letter, calling for Churchill to resign click here.
  • To read CU's rules for dismissal for a tenured professor, click here.

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