Published February 01, 2005
DENVER – A panel discussion at Hamilton College (search) in New York featuring a Colorado professor was canceled after hundreds of death threats poured in because of an inflammatory essay he wrote comparing some of the Sept. 11 victims to Nazis and calling President Bush a terrorist.
Hamilton has been on heightened security since the paper by Ward Churchill (search), published more than two-and-a-half years ago in the aftermath of the 2001 attacks, resurfaced.
Click here to read the essay, titled "Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens."
College spokesman Michael DeBraggio said multiple death threats were made against both school officials and Churchill, who was to be a guest speaker at the panel discussion.
Churchill resigned Monday as chairman of the ethnic studies department at the University of Colorado at Boulder (search), and the Board of Regents there is holding an emergency meeting Thursday to discuss his future.
In the scathing essay, Churchill called the traders and other businesspeople who worked at the World Trade Center in New York "Eichmanns" — a reference to Adolf Eichmann, who organized Nazi plans to exterminate Europe's Jews.
That's because he believes American foreign policy and the spread of capitalism around the world for U.S. profit are acts of genocide against Iraqi civilians and others in the same way as the Nazi movement was against the Jews during World War II.
"As to those in the World Trade Center ... 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," Churchill wrote.
In an interview with FOX News, Churchill admitted that his 20-page paper was "a harsh piece" and his views are unpopular. But he stands by his opinion that the attacks were retribution for harmful U.S. foreign policy.
"Bush, at least in symbolic terms, is the world's leading terrorist," Churchill told FOX News in an interview. "He absolutely thumbs his nose at the rule of law. He's the head of a rogue state by definition, and it's a rogue state which dispenses carnage on people presumed to be inferior in some set of terms."
The essay attracted little attention until Churchill was invited to speak Thursday at Hamilton College, about 40 miles east of Syracuse, N.Y. Since then, he has gotten several hundred threatening e-mails and some hostile reactions from Sept. 11 victims' families.
He's also gotten hundreds of supportive e-mails and said that some of those in his corner are soldiers on the front lines of the war in Iraq.
"There is a substantial sector of the population, including GIs that I'm corresponding with as a result of this in the Gulf right now, who say, your points are very solid and this is not right what we're doing here," Churchill told FOX.
Though it's difficult for tenured professors to lose their jobs, a number of people — including Colorado Gov. Bill Owens (search) and some student Republicans — are up in arms over Churchill and his views and want him fired.
"This guy has to go," said Isaiah Lechowit, president of the University of Colorado Student Republicans. "He's been out here just raving about this nonsense and the mindless drones over here are clapping and hooting and hollering for him.
"What sickens me is the people out there clapping for this raving lunatic who applauds these terrorists for killing people on Sept. 11."
Churchill says he has no intention of quitting, and his students don't want to see him go. Many are among his staunchest supporters.
"He changes people's minds," said Albe Zakes, a University of Colorado junior who is a student of Churchill's. "He says controversial things. That is not a bad thing.
"If you express your opinion and you have a strong opinion — an opinion that differs from the norm — people are going to try to cut you down and take you out of power. If you don't exercise your constitutional right and you don't challenge authority, I think that is being un-American."
Some of Churchill's colleagues in the ethnic studies department held a brief press conference at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday to rally around the scholar. They praised Churchill, mentioned numerous writing awards he's won and chastised the press for twisting his words. Churchill himself wasn't present at the event.
FOX News' Carol McKinley, Catherine Donaldson-Evans and The Associated Press contributed to this report.