A Colorado student has kindly sent the following account:
The event did go forward, and it ran pretty well. If you're interested, here's a rough (and long) play-by-play, based on my furiously scribbled notes. Statements in quotes should be read as very close paraphrases of a given speaker's words; everything else represents, as closely as I can represent it, the gist of what a speaker said. Feel free to post some or all of it if you like....
The event is held in a ballroom, scheduled for 7:00, doors at 6:00. The room fills slowly and the event gets underway around 7:20 or so. I don't know how many people there are, but the ballroom is filled to capacity. Security is tight for a university event; metal detection wands, etc. Once the event begins, however, there is not a single serious disturbance.
Drumbeats outside the ballroom, and in comes a procession of members of the Colorado American Indian Movement, with clothing identifying a good number of them as such. The drummers are first, and Churchill is in the middle of the procession. Someone starts clapping, and people get up and begin to applaud. The group makes its way through the crowd and reaches the stage, where the members continue to drum and sing for about a minute or so. The applause continues throughout. A number of guards in AIM vests spread out at the bottom of the stage, and there are uniformed police officers in the vicinity as well.
A student whose name I don't catch reads a statement on academic freedom, and is greeted with applause. Emma Perez, the new Chair of Ethnic Studies, asks the members of the press (who are present in large numbers) to look around and see the support for Ward; this prompts a standing ovation. Perez states that Colorado Governor Bill Owens (who has called for Churchill to resign or be fired) was wrong about alleged violence at the Regents' meeting last week. She goes on to say that Churchill's book (On the Justice of Roosting Chickens) has been misrepresented in the media, and that the Ethnic Studies department wishes to express its unconditional support for Churchill. She concludes by telling the audience that Ward will speak for about 50 minutes or so, and that the speech would be followed by a question and answer period. The questions will be
limited to students only; no questions will be taken from members of the press. The audience applauds this announcement.
Perez introduces Russell Means, an AIM leader and attorney. Means states that his is the only ethnic group in the world that is called upon to prove its
bloodlines. He refers to Indian reservations as concentration camps and "little Iraqs," and tells the audience that South Africa's apartheid legislation was virtually copied from the text of the Indian Reorganization Act (I have not yet researched this). He calls the Regents cowards, who cannot stand up for women (a reference to CU's football woes) or for their own professors. Standing ovation. Means says that Ward has represented AIM internationally, and that he is a "full-blooded Indian leader."
Churchill then approaches the microphone, to a standing ovation.
He begins with, "Bill Owens: do you get it now?" He then states that he does not work for the taxpayers of Colorado or for Bill Owens; he works for us. He has a responsibility to the community, he says, and the Board of Regents should do its job and let him do his. He says that he has still not received official notification from the Board that he is under review.
There is a shared ideal of truth across cultures, he continues. His identity
does not come from the editors of the Rocky Mountain News or the Boulder Daily Camera. He states that he has been accused of justifying the 9/11 attacks, but that there is no need to justify the natural or the inevitable; we can only comment on it. He thought that people would understand the Eichmann symbolism in his essay, "but apparently not." [scattered laughter from the crowd]. He asserts that this has been called a bad rhetorical device, but if anyone else has a better one, they should use it; this was his [applause]. He notes that U.S. officials would, if they applied their terminology consistently, call the firefighters, children, food workers, and airplane passengers killed on 9/11 "collateral damage." (A note on the applause: there was a lot of it during the speech; from here on out, I'll just note the standing ovations.)
He says that on 9/11 and 9/12, media outlets were referring to the attacks
as "senseless." He asks how they could know that the attacks were senseless, when senseless means without purpose. Agree or disagree with the purpose of the attacks, he says, but they could not be without purpose.
He switches to U.S. policy, beginning with the Pine Ridge Reservation in
Colorado, which contains Shannon County, the poorest county in the U.S. for 50 years [I believe he said "in the U.S." but I am not certain about this]. The impact of the federal government's policy in Shannon County has been close to genocidal; Churchill says that it is in fact genocide, with children on the reservation dying of preventable diseases and a life expectancy that is 1/3 shorter than the rest of the U.S. The plenary power of the federal government has been used to create trust authority over Indian assets, and the trust is controlled by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The federal government, he says, has misplaced $150 billion in Indian assets; he wonders what this amounts to per person on the reservation. The rate of suicide among Indian youths is 14 times higher than among their peers. The question, he says, is not "why is Churchill angry?" but "why Bill Owens and the Regents are not."
In Iraq, he continues, children were dying of preventable disease as well
because of U.S. sanctions that were imposed in the name of the U.N. Madeleine Albright confirmed that U.S. officials knew that 500,000 Iraqi children were dying, but that this was "worth the price" of making Iraqis understand that, in George H W Bush's words, "what we say goes."
On 9/11, we asked "why to they hate us?" How could they not, Churchill asks. Palestinian children were being killed with American-made weapons and helicopters, and the policy was embraced by the U.S. citizenry. Tens of millions of darker skinned people have died for the sake of the motive of profit maximization.
The U.S. expresses concern about weapons of mass destruction, Churchill states, when it holds the largest number of nuclear weapons of any country in the world and is the only country ever to use them on civilians. He talks about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the firebombing of Tokyo, and other U.S. military actions that have targeted civilians. Governor Owens does not want us to be taught about the policies that cause deaths on Indian reservations and in Iraq.
The Indians who supposedly sold Manhattan thought they were taking rental money in exchange for granting use of the land and the port to the Dutch, who then took the island militarily, taking the heads of fighting-age males and playing soccer with them in the street near where the WTC once stood. Wall Street, he says, takes its name from the wall that once enclosed the slave trading center in the city.
He continues: when you treat people this way, and demean them, then what you put out will blow back on you. But Americans seem to be "innocent" almost by definition, he says.
Security is not the answer, Churchill claims. Israel is the embodiment of the security state, yet there are still 14-year-olds sneaking in with bombs. Of well-being and security, Churchill states, "I don't want to get Biblical,
but 'do unto others as you'd have done to you.'" We can start by stopping the killing of their babies; give them the dignity of being human, not "collateral damage." He says his whole view, his whole radical claim, comes down to this: let's start pretending, at least, that the U.S. is bound to obey the law. [standing ovation].
That's my argument, he says. I have a right and an obligation to say it, and I
owe no one an apology. [standing ovation]
"Do I feel sorrow for the children who died on 9/11?" he asks. "Yes, of
course." And, he goes on, for the firefighters, foodworkers, and passengers. It is the same degree of sorrow he feels for every single Iraqi child. When we start to hear sorrow for brown-skinned children, then we're getting closer to where we can save all of the children.
The university, he says, needs to be protected from the ravages of the rabid right-wing. [standing ovation]
Churchill then concludes the speech, to another standing ovation. "You all give me hope," he says while the crowd applauds.
The question and answer period lasts for about 15 or 20 minutes; I'll just
recount some of the questions and responses.. Churchill is asked about academic freedom, and cites the relevant provisions Laws of the Regents. He is asked if the attacks on him are related to his acquittal on charges that he disrupted Denver's Columbus Day parade [Churchill was one of eight defendants acquitted in that case]; he responds, "What do you think?" He goes on to say that this is the opening round in a purge of ideas that the Board of Regents, the Governor, the newspapers, Newt Gingrich, and David Horowitz [among others; I couldn't write quickly enough] do not want to hear. "Owens says I should resign or be fired; I return the compliment."
A questioner says that most of the students at the university are not studying to be food service workers; are we "little Eichmanns"? Churchill
responds, "that's your choice." When you knowingly accept the effects of
America's business-as-usual, and contribute your abilities to it for your own
gain, then you are Eichmann.
There are other questions, and a few monologues from "questioners," some of whom are Churchill supporters, some of whom are opponents.
Churchill ends by stating that obedience to the law begins with honoring
treaties with the peoples whose land we occupy here. He steps away from the mike, there are drumbeats and applause, and the crowd begins to file out.
This account amply confirms Professor Dworkin's original diagnosis: Churchill's "main theses represent moral, political, and empirical claims about the cause of the attack, and its moral character. No faculty member should be dismissed because of such claims." Even if a self-promoter on the law faculty at Colorado can't figure this out, I strongly suspect Dean Getches of the Law School (who is one of those charged with the university "investigation") will.