Saturday, February 05, 2005


The Churchill media craze

A professor at University of Colorado at Boulder, Ward Churchill, has made headlines all over the U.S. when he referred to the victims of 9/11 as "little Eichmanns" in a written commentary. (Read his statements here.) His argument is packed with slippery-slope fallacies and, hence, is somewhat weak. But nevermind that. There is a lot of rage in Churchill's piece about the "little Eichmanns": The bottom line being that anyone who is silently feeding of the US capitalist system is a co-conspirator (together with the US military state) against the poor and oppressed people in the the world.

This is pure orthodox marxism. Nothing strange about that. But the media craze tells us that the main stream audience (i.e. people outside of academia) has a hard time dealing with statements like these.
There are two analytical levels here (at least). First, there is the semantic level, dealing with the way Churchill made his remarks, and the metaphors he used.
The second level deals with the metaphysical level - whether there are premises to support such a claim from both an ethical point of view and a more ontological, realist form of perspective.

On these two levels, we might come to different conclusions, depending on normative frameworks and our respective taste for rhetorics.

But then there is that last sad part of it all - in which a media outrage, staged by a few and organised by many is working to throw Churchill out of Boulder, and end his tenure.
It is no coincidence that the most prosperous academic communities (intellectually speaking) are the private universities, where teachers are not held accountable by politicians or just any man on the street outside but are rather treated according to the standardised form of intellectual scrutiny that is the trademark of scientific communities. If people outside of academia would decide the course of science, Galileo's research would still be considered a blasphemy.

So.. this post has been about the importance of intellectual freedom at universities and why government-run universities are always a bad thing.

On top of that, based on the statements I've read from Churchill, it seems like the man is nuts. But that is a completely different story.

<< Home
depeche mode tour 2005/2006