DENVER – A professor who likened World Trade Center (search) victims to a notorious Nazi refused to apologize, but said his treatise was a "gut response" in his first public comments since the University of Colorado began a review that could lead to his dismissal.
"I don't believe I owe an apology," Ward Churchill (search) said Friday on a televised interview.
He defended the essay in which compared those killed in the Sept. 11 attack to "little Eichmanns," a reference to Adolf Eichmann (search), who organized Nazi plans to exterminate European Jews. He said the victims were akin to U.S. military operations' collateral damage — or innocent civilians mistakenly killed by soldiers.
"I don't know if the people of 9/11 specifically wanted to kill everybody that was killed," he said in the interview. "It was just worth it to them in order to do whatever it was they decided it was necessary to do that bystanders be killed. And that essentially is the same mentality, the same rubric."
In an interview published Saturday in the Rocky Mountain News, Churchill added, "This was a gut response opinion speech written in about four hours. It's not completely reasoned and thought through."
Churchill said his speech had been misinterpreted. "They take, as is usually the case with propaganda, some kernel of truth to anchor, and then they go wild. I never said anything about 'justifying.' I never said anything about 'advocating.' I never called for the deaths of millions of Americans," he said.
The university's Board of Regents apologized to all Americans on Thursday, especially those targeted by the attacks.
The furor over Churchill's essay erupted last month after he was invited to speak at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. Campus officials discovered that an essay and follow-up book by Churchill characterized the Sept. 11 attacks as a response to a long history of U.S. abuses abroad, particularly against indigenous peoples.
Churchill, who recently resigned as chairman of the ethnic studies department but remains a tenured professor, said he would sue if he were dismissed.