While Churchill has been reviled outside academe, many professors — even those who find his views revolting — have defended him, saying that for a public university to dismiss a tenured professor for his writings would violate the First Amendment and erode the principles of academic freedom. So the debate over Churchill’s research may have the potential to shift the broader discussion about whether he deserves support. –Scott Jaschik –A New Ward Churchill Controversy (Inside Higher Ed)
Churchill is the professor who called victims of the World Trade Center terrorist attack “little Eichmans” (a reference to the Gestapo leader who masterminded the “Final Solution” — the execution of Jews).
While Jaschik is only reporting on a debate that is already happening online, I think it should be noted that the essay that provides most of the evidence against Churchill’s scholarship has itself not been peer-reviewed.
Since I haven’t been following the Churchill controversy closely, I’m not aware of whether Churchill’s statements about 9-11 might have violated something in his university faculty handbook, but by shifting the focus from what he said to the credibility of his scholarship, those who want Churchill out probably have more leverage — if they can prove that Churchill’s scholarship is shoddy.
Tenure is supposed to protect scholars with unpopular views, but this is a different matter.
(Full disclosure… I wrote an editorial for Inside Higher Ed, but on a completely unrelated subject.)