And that requires us to dissent again and again and again

February 25, 2009

Bill Ayers speaks about as eloquently as I’ve heard anywhere on Ward Churchill’s firing. I’m starting to get really excited about the upcoming event with him and Derrick Jensen.

From the Colorado Daily.

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“I don’t think anybody can raise a question that Ward Churchill was singled out and gone after because of his comments after 9/11 — because of his politics,” Ayers said. “It was a political witch hunt. That’s what happened to him.”

There are numerous cases of historians and scholars committing much greater academic errors in their scholarship than the Churchill investigation uncovered, Ayers said, and they were allowed to be corrected and move on with their careers.

The only difference in Churchill’s case, Ayers insisted, was the professor’s outspoken political leanings.

“The university is a particular space in a society like ours where we have to not only entertain, but expect the widest diversity of ideas that go way outside what’s conventional,” Ayers said. “Without teachers who are willing to raise alternative views, investigate other possibilities, think beyond the box of convention … we’re doomed as a society and we’re going backwards rapidly without (them).”

The pattern of repressing such free thought in the university creates a ripple effect throughout the rest of academia, Ayers said.

“If Ward Churchill can be brought down from his accomplishments and successes, what chance do I have if I’m a teacher in Denver?” Ayers said.

In the end, Ayers defends not just Churchill’s writings and ideas, but the very notion of dissent.

“I’ve lived a kind of life of dissent my whole adult life,” Ayers said. “I think dissent is essential to democracy and I think that in order to be an active citizen, you have to move beyond the stance of, ‘Whatever my country does is fine,’ and you have to move into a direction of saying, ‘I want my country to live up to the best ideals of its history and its values.’

“And that requires us to dissent again and again and again.”

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