Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Random Political Thoughts in Some Strange Kind of Order: Tancredo, Knoll, and Churchill

Call me crazy, but I think Tom Tancredo has about as much chance of re-election as does Catherine Baker Knoll. Debate their views and their sins all you want, but they failed one extremely important test that all politicians face sooner or later: not knowing when to keep their mouths shut.

If Ward Churchill needed to be voted into office, he too would probably lose his next election (or face a recall if he failed to step down). Instead, the University of Colorado seems to be drawing out their inquiry into his academic past in hopes that the public’s memory of Churchill will be somewhat fuzzy by the time they find him a little bit less than guilty of academic misdeeds. The panel may yet surprise me and do the right thing (that is, terminate his contract), but their recent request for more information has me believing that they are just cowering until the storm passes.

There is more than enough evidence to conclude that he is a plagiarist and a liar--and both of those should spell the end of tenure for a professor at any respectable university. Tenure isn’t a blanket get out of jail free card, exonerating teachers from whatever they choose to do; tenure is meant as protection from unjust persecution and to give teachers the opportunity to innovate and instigate in the classroom. But tenure requires a trust between the school and the teacher; to say that Churchill broke that trust would be an understatement.

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