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March 10, 2005

Ward Churchill's Loyalty Oath

David Kopel at VC points out that Colorado has a loyalty oath for its professors, which Ward Churchill presumably signed

Although CU professors are required by state law to sign an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and the Colorado Constitution, Churchill has repeatedly called for the violent overthrow of the U.S. government, and has urged his audiences to perpetrate 9/11 type terrorist attacks in the United States. In doing so, he has provided explicit instructions about where the attacks should take place, and how the attacker should dress so as to be able to get to the target.

If so, it would seem that Churchill has violated his oath, and could be fired for that.

It's interesting that such oaths are still around.

I've blogged before on the California loyalty oath controversy of around 1950 (though my blog's Movable Type search engine seems to be disabled too-- maybe this weekend I'll do the big technology switch to new software). I was reading a book on academic freedom controversies of that time. If I remember rightly, the controversy was the exact opposite of what I would expect-- professors were not upset that they had to swear an oath of loyalty to the U.S. Constitution, but that they had to swear not to join the Communist Party (I might be wrong in my recollection, though).

My views are the opposite. I oppose an oath of loyalty to the U.S. Constitution, because that does limit the kind of faculty we can have, and I see no reason not to have a few anti-Americans on the faculty-- or a lot, for that matter. Who cares if some math professor would like to see the U.S. Constitution overthrown? Also, of course, we don't enforce that kind of oath, and it is hard to. Every law professor who supports Roe v. Wade is subverting the U.S. Constitution, after all.

On the other hand, forbidding a professor to join the Communist Party is something objective and easy for him to comply with. If our physicist has to drop out from his political activities, he will have all the more time for his physics, and be a better professor. The same is true even for a communist political scientist-- he will have to give up party affairs, and do more writing if he wants to the further the Revolution, and writing is what the university hires him for.

Posted by erasmuse at March 10, 2005 08:00 AM

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