An American university has sacked a professor who compared some
of victims of the September 11 2001 attack on the World Trade Centre
to a Nazi war criminal.
Ward Churchill, fired by the University of Colorado on Tuesday, had
been accused of plagarism and research misconduct over some of his earlier
Churchill, an ethnic studies professor at the state-funded university,
said in an interview that the allegations were a pretext to remove him
because of his unpopular views.
"I'm not a martyr or a victim, but certainly a target," he
But three faculty committees had accused Churchill of falsification
and other misconduct regarding some of his earlier writings, though
the investigation only began after the controversy over his September
Hank Brown, the university president, said there had been little choice
but to fire Churchill to protect the integrity of the university's research.
"The decision was really pretty basic," he said. "The
individual [Churchill] did not express regret, did not apologise, did
not indicate a willingness to refrain from this type of falsification
in the future."
The allegations against Churchill included claiming the work of a Canadian
environmental group as his own, misrepresenting the effects of federal
laws on American Indians and fabricating evidence that the army deliberately
spread smallpox to Mandan Indians in 1837.
His September 11 essay, Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting
Chickens, was not part of the investigation.
That essay, along with a follow-up book, argued that the September 11,
2001, attack on the World Trade Centre was a response to a long history
of US abuses.
He said that some of those killed in the attack were "a technocratic
corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire",
calling them "little Eichmanns", referring to Adolf Eichmann,
the Nazi bureaucrat involved in the persecution of the Jews and the
Churchill explained that while Eichmann carried out policies planned
by others, he was still responsible for his own actions.
Later, he conceded that the analogy was an "ill-designed rhetorical
device", but continued to conclude that the attack was understandable,
given US foreign policy in the Middle East.
The essay cause uproar and prompted some, including Bill Owens, then
governor of Colorado, to call for Churchill to be sacked.
University officials said Churchill's writing was protected speech under
the First Amendment, but launched an investigation into his research
in other work.
David Lane, Churchill's lawyer, said that the decision was retribution
for Churchill's September 11 remarks and that he would file suit on