Friday, February 04, 2005

"Little Eichmanns," Meet Little Goebbel

I'm jumping in a little late here, but I just wanted to add two cents to Colorado Professor Ward Churchill--err, commentary?--on the 9/11 attacks. In the midst of a vicious attack on all things Western that attempts to justify the assault, he refers to the victims in the WTC as "little Eichmanns." He has already resigned as department chair, and the university is considering firing him. If they do take that action, Connelly promises to sue. Eugene Volokh has a superb summary of the events and what should result; I highly encourage you to consult it. I am inclined to agree with Volokh, Mr. Churchill should not be fired, but can certainly be removed from his chairmanship. Barring professional misconduct (which speech, repulsive as it may be, does not rise to), a tenured professor should not be removed simply because we disagree with his views.

The opinion I'm interested in hearing, however, is Richard Delgado's. For those of you who don't know, Delgado (along with his longtime collaborator, Jean Stefancic) is one of the founders of Critical Race Theory. More important for our purposes, he is a Law Professor at the University of Colorado, and he is the author of "Must We Defend the Nazis?: Hate Speech, Pornography, and the New First Amendment." Thus, unlike much of the traditional American left (e.g., the ACLUites and there ilk), Delgado is not uncomfortable with censoring someone for "hate speech." However, the question is whether or not the same rule will apply to speech coming from the radical left instead of the radical right. Michael W. McConnell has accused Post-Modernist scholars of hypocrisy in this regard:
"For the most part, with some exceptions, post-modernists in the legal and political arenas have treated the debunking of liberal neutrality as an opportunity for partisanship in the service of a controversial vision of liberation. As one academic commentator on post-modernism has observed:

"Many [post-modernists] are political activists and political advocates. They adopt positive political positions based on explicitly stated values and goals. They move from deconstruction and reconstruction to construction, despite the intellectual logical contradiction involved in denying modern foundations and then positing one's own vision as in some ways 'better.'"

Thus, while multi-culturalism and political correctness may seem to be logically incompatible positions, they often are found in the same people. The logical path seems to be as follows: If there is no objective standard of truth, there is no need to worry that opposing viewpoints might have something important to say; and since there is no basis for persuasion by the intrinsic merit of argument, all that is left is the exercise of power. So the post-modernist advocate pleads for openmindedness to various points of view (multi-culturalism) when out of power and suppresses dissent (political correctness) when in power.

This is the phenomenon of selective multi-culturalism: boundless tolerance and respect for some voices, and ruthless suppression of others." ["God is Dead and We Have Killed Him": Freedom of Religion in the Post-Modern Age, 1993 B.Y.U L. Rev. 163, 186-87

I'm not sure I'm that cynical about it. Delgado is a writer who has greatly influenced me (though I far from agree with everything he writes), and I certainly hope he would apply his standards to the left as well as the right.

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