Sunday, April 29, 2007

Ward Churchill Mouths Empty Words about Proper Attribution in Footnoting

"[I]t is a matter not just of courtesy, but of ethics, to make proper attribution to those upon whose ideas and research one relies."---Ward Churchill!

"Churchill fabricated the most crucial details of his genocide story. Churchill radically misrepresented the sources he cites in support of his genocide charges, sources which say essentially the opposite of what Churchill attributes to them."---Professsor Thomas Brown

In his 1997 book A Little Matter of Genocide, Ward Churchill hypocritically claims that he believes that it is important to make proper attribution in his footnoting:

"I have gone out of my way to provide what Noam Chomsky has called "rich footnotes." The reasons for this are several and devolve not merely upon the usual scholarly fetish with indicating familiarity with "the literature." I do believe that when making many of the points I've sought to make, and with the bluntness that typically marks my work, one is advised to be thorough in revealing the basis upon which they rest. I also believe that it is a matter not just of courtesy, but of ethics, to make proper attribution to those upon whose ideas and research one relies. Most importantly, I want those who read this book, to be able to interrogate what I've said, to challenge it and consequently to build on it. The most expedient means to this end is the provision of copious annotation, citing sources both pro and con." [Page 11. Report of the Investigative Committee of the Standing Committee on Research Misconduct at the University of Colorado at Boulder concerning Allegations of Academic Misconduct against Professor Ward Churchill]

That's what Ward Churchill said, but the C.U. Committees discovered that Churchill dishonestly mischaracterized the words of other scholars. Churchill gave his undocumented claims that the American Army deliberately infected Indians with smallpox a credibility they didn't deserve by seeming to cite genuine scholars.

Some people defend Churchill by claiming that all scholars make occcasional mistakes in writing and sourcing. This is true, but Ward Churchill's footnoting "mistakes" seem to happen when he is claiming that the American Army deliberately gave Indians smallpox. [if not available see Plagiary HTML]

Here are copies of pages from Churchill's books and the pages he ostensibly cites from other scholars in his footnotes. These PDF copies of pages from books illustrate what Churchill does, and are taken from the Rocky Mountain News:

PDF: Army-smallpox assertions (Churchill, Thornton references)

PDF: Army-smallpox assertions (Churchill, Stearn references

PDF: American Indian population (Churchill, Thornton references)

PDF: Capt. John Smith and smallpox vaccine (Churchill, Connell, Salisbury references)

I have read The Effect of Smallpox on the Destiny of the Amerindian (1945) by E. Wagner Stearn, Ph.D. and Allen E. Stearn, Ph.D. This is one of the books that Churchill "quotes" to make his case that the American Army committed genocide.

Churchill is really disrespectful of the Stearns' work. When he claims that proper attribution is an ethical imperative, Churchill is just mouthing cynical platitudes.

I don't think that the Stearns would be happy if they knew that Churchill claimed that their 1945 book provided evidence that the American Army committed genocide by giving Indians smallpox-infected blankets at Fort Clark, because this is what they actually said at the close of their book:

If, in the foregoing pages, some facts have been stated which incriminated the white conquerers and settlers, the history is replete with instances of great heroism and devotion of large numbers of white men throughout the centuries, who labored to alleviate the sufferings of, and finally brought the protection to, the conquered people through vaccination at their own trouble and expense (Stearn and Stearn pg.139).

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