To: Regents of the University of Colorado President Elizabeth Hoffman Interim Chancellor Philip DiStefano Date: February 2, 2005 We, the members of the Spokescouncil of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, write to support Professor Ward Churchill and his constitutional right to free speech. Rooted in a commitment to unconditional nonviolence, the Peace and Justice Center works to create a culture of justice and peace. The Spokescouncil is our governing body, equivalent to a board of trustees. Mindful of the controversy that now surrounds Professor Ward Churchill because of a statement he wrote immediately after the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, we wish to make the following observations:
The right to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is essential to the very character of the freedom celebrated by the people of our country. It is better to protect this crucial freedom than to vitiate it by punishing anyone for what he or she has said. Words, however unpalatable, do not kill; deeds kill.
THE ROLE OF UNIVERSITIES
Universities exist to discover truth by exploring the whole range of human thought and action. The search for truth knows no bounds; to sever a limb because it offends desecrates the body of truth. The way to ferret out untruth is hold it to the light and to examine it from all angles. Tenure is a practical necessity that helps ensure that all points of view, the unpopular as well as the popular, are examined. The University of Colorado has a distinct responsibility to be open to the painful as well as the heroic and laudable aspects of Colorado history, among them slaughter of Native People and a war in which the U.S. seized half the territory of a neighboring country (Mexico) and carved from this mass a portion of what is now the State of Colorado. The university also has an obligation to the students and the citizens of Colorado to seek to understand the reasons people of other lands might be angered by our policies and feel obliged to strike back at us.
THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN PEACE & JUSTICE CENTER AND WARD CHURCHILL
We at the Peace and Justice Center have learned much from both the spoken and written words of Professor Churchill. He has been for us a teacher regarding especially the history of the Native People in what is now the United States but also the history of human rights abuses in our own country. He has challenged the Peace and Justice Center and enabled us to clarify our views and to strengthen our resolve. He has helped us gain a critical perspective on the behavior of our own government. While his words at times may seem ill chosen, even distasteful, he is not wrong in pointing out that the economic, political, ecological, and military behavior of the United States has created enemies who will search for opportunities to attack us.
Accordingly, we call on the Regents of the University of Colorado to treat Professor Ward Churchill as a human being gifted in this land of ours with the right to free speech and recognized in this university as a tenured professor whose views need to be examined, challenged, and carefully considered in the quest for truth that is most truly the vocation of the University of Colorado. Spokescouncil, Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center Betty Ball Oak Chezar Erin Hamby Judith Mohling Sannie Peters Dan Winters Gary Ball Jorge De Santiago Arron Mansika LeRoy Moore Sabrina Sideris Carolyn Bninski Carla Friedli Gaia Mika Jim Nelson Phil Sieper