DENVER – A lawyer for the professor whose remarks about Sept. 11 victims (search) touched off a firestorm wants officials to clarify how they intend to prove he is an American Indian, asking if they plan to use "the Nazi (search) standard for racial purity."
A University of Colorado faculty committee is investigating whether professor Ward Churchill (search) should be fired over allegations he plagiarized others' work, and that he falsely claimed to be an American Indian to give his work more credibility.
"Do you wish to employ the Nazi standard for racial purity? Do you wish to employ the standard adopted by the United States government for determining Japanese ancestry in order to qualify for internment?" attorney David Lane asked in a letter dated Monday to acting chancellor Philip DiStefano.
The university launched the investigation after a 3 1/2-year-old essay came to light earlier this year in which Churchill compared some Sept. 11 victims to Nazi bureaucrats. A panel headed by DiStefano concluded he could not be fired for his essay, but directed a faculty committee to investigate the plagiarism and ethnicity allegations.
Churchill has denied the plagiarism allegations.
DiStefano declined to comment Tuesday. The committee is expected to take up to nine months to make a recommendation.
In Cheney, Washington, Churchill lectured to ethnic studies classes and spoke at the Native American Awareness Week rally on the Eastern Washington University campus — a compromise after a formal speech was canceled over safety concerns.
"It was stated clearly, and in English, that the administration's posture here, in attempting to cancel (the formal speech) ... carried clear implications of unconstitutional prior restraint of speech," Churchill said.
"The job assignment of any academic institution ... is to see to it that the academic mission of the institution is fulfilled, not to prevent it, not to shape it to the purposes of their funders."
Earlier Tuesday, Churchill had gone to a federal court to force the university to rescind its cancellation of his planned speech. The motion was denied.