A professor who likened World Trade Center victims to a notorious Nazi refused to apologize but said his treatise was a “gut response” to the terrorist attacks.
“I don’t believe I owe an apology,” Ward Churchill said Friday on CNN’s “Paula Zahn Now” program — his first public comments since the University of Colorado began a review that could lead to his dismissal.
Meanwhile, Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., and Eastern Washington University canceled plans for Churchill to speak on campus, citing public safety concerns. Stephen Jordan, president of Eastern Washington University, declined Friday to say whether specific threats had been made.
Churchill defended the essay in which he compared those killed in the Sept. 11 attack to “little Eichmanns,” a reference to Adolf Eichmann, who organized Nazi plans to exterminate European Jews. He said the victims were akin to U.S. military operations’ collateral damage — or innocent civilians mistakenly killed by soldiers.
“I don’t know if the people of 9-11 specifically wanted to kill everybody that was killed,” he told Zahn. “It was just worth it to them in order to do whatever it was they decided it was necessary to do that bystanders be killed. And that essentially is the same mentality, the same rubric.”
Essay a 'gut response'
In an interview published Saturday in the Rocky Mountain News, Churchill added, “This was a gut response opinion speech written in about four hours. It’s not completely reasoned and thought through.”
Churchill said his speech had been misinterpreted. “I never called for the deaths of millions of Americans,” he said.
Early editions of the Sunday Denver Post reported Churchill gave another magazine interview in which he was asked about the effectiveness of protests of U.S. policies and the Iraq war, and responded: “One of the things I’ve suggested is that it may be that more 9/11s are necessary.”
The interview prompted Gov. Bill Owens to renew his call for Churchill’s firing.
“It’s amazing that the more we look at Ward Churchill, the more outrageous, treasonous statements we hear from Churchill,” Owens said.
The furor over Churchill’s essay erupted last month after he was invited to speak at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. The speech was later canceled.
Churchill, who recently resigned as chairman of the ethnic studies department but remains a tenured professor, said he would sue if he were dismissed.