CU Professor Refuses To Apologize For 9/11 Essay

Churchill Says Thesis Was Meant To Stir Reaction

In his first public comments since the University of Colorado launched a review that could lead to his dismissal, a professor who likened World Trade Center victims to a notorious Nazi refused Friday to apologize to the victims' families.

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

"I don't believe I owe an apology," tenured ethnic studies professor and American Indian Movement activist Ward Churchill said during an interview with CNN's Paula Zahn.

He defended his essay written the day of the attacks that said those killed in the trade center were "little Eichmanns," a reference to Adolf Eichmann, who organized Nazi plans to exterminate European Jews. He said the victims of the terrorist attacks were akin to U.S. military operations' collateral damage -- or innocent civilians mistakenly killed by soldiers.

"I don't know if the people of 9/11 specifically wanted to kill everybody that was killed," he said during the CNN interview. "It was just worth it to them in order to do whatever it was they decided it was necessary to do that bystanders be killed. And that essentially is the same mentality, the same rubric."

He said the military's computations of collateral damage when planning operations amounts to "official state terrorism."

The embattled professor said the outrage over his essay on is exactly the kind of response he was looking for. He said that his point was to show that the actions of the United States abroad can have consequences.

"My thesis basically was that any people subjected to that, say the Iraqis, respond in their name in kind and it doesn't matter if they're Arabs or Americans," Churchill said.

The university's Board of Regents Thursday apologized to all Americans, especially those targeted by the attacks, as administrators said they would review Churchill's writings and speeches to see if they were protected by the First Amendment and whether there was cause for dismissal.

Churchill said he would sue if he was dismissed, but said he didn't believe that would happen.

The furor over Churchill's 3½-year-old essay erupted last month after the professor was invited to speak at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. Campus officials discovered that an essay and follow-up book by Churchill characterized the Sept. 11 attacks as a response to a long history of U.S. abuses abroad, particularly against indigenous peoples.

The college canceled Churchill's appearance, citing death threats and concerns about security.

Since then, Gov. Bill Owens has called on Colorado to fire Churchill and questions have been raised about his claim of Cherokee heritage. Churchill told The Denver Post he is three-sixteenths Cherokee, though not a full member of the Keetoowah band.

Both the Colorado House and Senate passed nonbinding resolutions this week denouncing Churchill's comments as "evil and inflammatory."

Churchill will promote his recent book and explain his comments about Sept. 11, 2001. Extra police will be on hand for the event, which will take place at the University Memorial Center. A crowd of an estimated 900 people will have to pass through metal detectors. No cans, bottles or backpacks will be allowed.

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.

Previous Stories: