It’s a famous statement of the Torah: “G-d will wage war for you, and you shall remain silent.” [Exodus 14:14] We don’t always need to do the work ourselves; HaShem works for us. The Talmud in Brachos says that it is the anti-Semites who will uniquely praise G-d in the end of time, because they, more than we, know how many times G-d thwarted their aims without telling us.
Sometimes, though, we find out. In the anti-terrorist forces there is apparently a term, “the Abdullah factor,” used to describe the propensity of Arab terrorists to blow themselves up while preparing their latest munitions to wage war against Jewish civilians. More recently, we’ve seen a powerful politician and academic both find ways to demolish their own careers.
First there was Cynthia McKinney, Congresswoman from Georgia’s fourth congressional district. Now, Ward Churchill, Professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, has done himself enough damage to limit his influence as a threat.
Cynthia McKinney has long been known as one of the most outspoken anti-Israel agitators in the US Congress, easily crossing the line into anti-Semitism. As pointed out by The Weekly Standard, McKinney criticized New York’s Rudy Giuliani for giving back a $10 million gift from Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal.
Giuliani had returned the Saudi’s money because it came with the implicit condition that America “address some of the issues that led to such a criminal [9/11] attack,” among them “its policies in the Middle East,” where “our Palestinian brethren continue to be slaughtered at the hands of Israelis while the world turns the other cheek.” To Giuliani, such a statement made excuses for terrorism. This wasn’t a problem for McKinney.
After she lost her re-election primary in 2002, her father loudly pointed his finger of blame for reporters: “J-E-W-S,” he said, were responsible, and daughter Cynthia never countered that remark. We thought we were rid of her — but she came back in 2004, and went right back to spouting her old anti-Israel nonsense… right up until she punched United States Capitol Police officer Paul McKenna.
What happened was quite simple: she waltzed into the building without the lapel pin that every Representative is supposed to wear, and attempted to skirt security nonetheless. When she failed to respond to multiple verbal requests to halt, Officer McKenna grabbed her arm — and she hit him.
For those who don’t expect the officers to memorize the faces of all members of congress, it was a simple case of assault upon a police officer. But to make matters worse, McKinney fell back upon an old recourse: a charge of racism. Not much more should have been expected, given previous charges of race-baiting against her — and her longstanding friendship with Louis Farrakhan — but it backfired badly. As described on the page about her on Wikipedia — which, despite her 12 years in congress, is dominated by references to this story and “other controversies” irrelevant to her political views:
It has been suggested that McKinney’s allegations of racism and sexism were overplayed on her part and have had a boomerang effect. McKinney now faces possible criminal charges from the grand jury, ethics charges (and indeed potential expulsion) from the House, and may have lost any pre-existing favor among colleagues.
Moreover, even if not indicted for criminal charges or subjected to disciplinary action by the House, McKinney may face a civil suit; the president of the Fraternal Order of Police has advocated the filing of a civil suit by Officer McKenna.
Having alienated fellow Members of Congress, the Capitol’s men in blue, and most of the nation, what more damage could a politician do to her own career? The answer is obvious: get the media to hate you, too. And that’s the “other controversies” found on Wikipedia:
On April 23 2006, as reported by WGCL’s Renee Starzyk, McKinney forgot she was still wearing the microphone after she was interviewed about the scuffle with the police officer. Her off screen comments were captured on tape. She was heard saying, “Oh …., now you know what… they lied to Coz and Coz is a fool.” She was referring to one of her aides, Coz Carson. McKinney realized the embarrassing mistake and returned on screen with the microphone, this time with instructions on what parts of the interview CBS 46 was allowed to use, “anything that is captured by your audio…that is captured while I’m not seated in this chair is off the record and is not permissible to be used… is that understood?” Her comments were aired on CBS and eventually across the nation.
That’s right: she spoke into an open mike, and then tried to lecture the media about what they could or could not use. I wonder how friendly the coverage will be as she approaches this fall’s election. She could still win re-election, you never know — but even should she continue, she is unlikely to wield influence.
Churchill’s scholarly reputation was based mainly on a squalid tract called A Little Matter of Genocide (1997), in which he argues that the murder of European Jews was not at all a “fixed policy objective of the Nazis,” and accuses Jews of seeking to monopolize for themselves all that beautiful Holocaust suffering that other groups would very much like, ex post facto, to share.
Or, as reported in the Rocky Mountain News:
Churchill’s essay Perversions of Justice … erroneously describes the General Allotment Act of 1887 as including a “formal eugenics code,” and then proceeds to write the following: “It is noteworthy that official eugenics codes have been employed by very few states, mostly such unsavory examples like Nazi Germany (against the Jews), South Africa (against ‘Coloreds’) and Israel (against Palestinian Arabs).”
A formal eugenics code in Israel? (“Eugenics,” as defined by The American Heritage Dictionary, is “The study of hereditary improvement of the human race by controlled selective breeding.”)
Churchill is almost certainly referring to the familiar canard that Israeli citizenship is based on Jewish background or blood kinship. In fact, more than 20 percent of Israeli citizens are not Jewish at all, and the “law of return” for Jews was enacted as a path to asylum for the persecuted.
Leave it to Churchill to equate this humanitarian statute with those designed by Nazis.
He then, after September 11, continued his abuse of Holocaust imagery: having previously attempted to minimize the evil of the Nazis, he then felt comfortable comparing workers in the World Trade Center to Adolf Eichmann. Arguing that American foreign policy was the root cause of the attacks, he bluntly claimed that Al-Qaeda “did not, for starters, ‘initiate’ a war with the US, much less commit ‘the first acts of war of the new millennium.'”
They did not license themselves to “target innocent civilians…” Let’s get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America’s global financial empire – the “mighty engine of profit” to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved – and they did so both willingly and knowingly… If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I’d really be interested in hearing about it.
The expression of heinous bigotry and Holocaust denial is not grounds for revocation of tenure at our finest universities — in fact, just the opposite is true. “Academic freedom” apparently includes the opportunity to have further revisionist research funded from the public or foundation till, as long as the professor in question manages to avoid showing his or her true colors before getting tenure. So although the powers that be stripped Churchill of the chairmanship of the ethnic studies department after his essay came to light, they were unable to fire him.
A University of Colorado investigative committee reported Tuesday that it uncovered serious cases of misconduct in the academic research of Ward Churchill, the professor who caused a national uproar by likening some Sept. 11 victims to a Nazi war criminal.
The committee said the misconduct by Churchill, an ethnic studies professor, included plagiarism, fabrication, and “serious deviation from accepted practices in reporting results from research.”
Note that the above violations will hardly guarantee his removal.
Three of the five members of the committee said the transgressions were serious enough that the university could revoke Churchill’s tenure and fire him. But two of those three said the most appropriate sanction would be a five-year suspension without pay.
The other two committee members said they were “troubled by the circumstances under which these allegations have been made,” and “believe his dismissal would have an adverse effect on other scholars’ ability to conduct their research.” Those two recommended that Churchill be suspended without pay for two years.
We can hope, at least, for a five-year suspension.