Ward Churchill's civil suit to be reinstated to his teaching post is apparently in court. Churchill is arguing that the nominal reasons for his termination (mostly shoddy academic work) were not alone enough to have normally justified his termination, and that he was in fact fired for his remarks about 9/11. This is an important distinction, because tenured professors can generally not be fired for exercise of first amendment rights, no matter how wacky their statements.
In a post that spawned a number of angry emails, I actually said I thought Churchill was fired improperly. There is plenty of evidence that the Native American studies department at Colorado, and gender/racial studies departments in general, have never enforced any sort of academic rigor, and it is hypocritical to suddenly discover such rigor for this case. Churchill has been rewarded and promoted historically for much of the same work he is nominally getting fired for now. Further, examples are legion of heads of various elite university racial and gender studies departments who exercise the same or less academic rigor as Churchill but whom no one is criticizing. As I mention in my earlier post, Cal State Long Beach hired a paranoid schizophrenic who had served prison time for beating and torturing two women as the head of their Black Studies department.
Frankly, Colorado is getting exactly what they hired. They weren't looking for a research mastermind. They were looking for a politically correct hire to fill a void and create a department that made them look nice and progressive on paper. And that is exactly what they got.
Update: Here is a good example of the academic standards in many racial and gender studies departments, where political activism substitutes for scholarship. Churchill, by being slack on his research work and publishing but making high-profile and incendiary statements in public, was merely following the template of many such department heads.