Wednesday, February 9, 2005
The scholar did not recant his statement but said he should have explained it better.
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) -- A University of Colorado professor who once compared some of the World Trade Center victims to a Nazi war criminal said Tuesday he mourns for everyone killed Sept. 11 and conceded that he could have explained himself better.
Ward Churchill made the comparison in an essay written hours after the 2001 attacks and later revised for a book. He called some victims "little Eichmanns," a reference to Adolf Eichmann, who organized the Nazi campaign to exterminate European Jews.
"I wouldn't retract it. I would explain it better," Ward Churchill told The Associated Press.
The essay, "Some People Push Back," attracted little notice until last month, after Churchill was invited to speak at Hamilton College, a private liberal arts school. Hamilton professor Theodore Eismeier has said he found the essay on the Internet during what he calls "a casual effort to learn more about Churchill."
Churchill said he was referring to "technocrats" who participate in what he calls repressive American policies around the world. He said those include Iraqi trade sanctions after the first Gulf War that have been blamed for the deaths of 500,000 children.
"I didn't mean the floor sweepers, the passers-by, the children," Churchill said.
"If someone were to ask me, 'Do you feel sorrow for the victims of 9/11,' of course I do," he said. "Let's begin with the children. Yes, they were innocent. And I mourn them. But they were not more innocent than those half-million Iraqi children."
The university backed off a threat to postpone a Tuesday night speech, saying students who claimed there were death threats had changed their stories. Earlier this month, Hamilton canceled Churchill's speech, citing death threats against the professor and University administrators.
Churchill said he did not mean to say the World Trade Center "technocrats" were Nazis but were, like Eichmann, bureaucrats who participated in an immoral system.
"He did not necessarily agree with the goals of the Nazis with regard to the Jews, but he performed his functions brilliantly," Churchill said.
Churchill said he shares some guilt because he participates in the system he accuses of wrongdoing: "I could do more. I'm complicit. I'm not innocent."
Gov. Bill Owens has called for Churchill to be fired, and the school is investigating whether the tenured professor of ethnic studies can be fired. Someone painted swastikas on the back of his pickup truck.