Saturday, March 12, 2005

Just Another Bureaucrat?

I was not surprised to see this article about alleged college professor Ward Churchill being accused of plagiarism. I was surprised (although, in hindsight, I'm not sure why) by something I read in Laura Frank's Rocky Mountain News article:

A three-person panel is reviewing that to determine if he [Ward Churchill] meets the standards of professional integrity set by CU.

The CU Board of Regents ordered the review after the public outcry over an essay Churchill wrote comparing victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to notorious Nazi bureaucrat Adolf Eichmann. Since then, Churchill has come under fire for some of his other writings and speeches, his scholarship, his claim of American Indian ancestry, and even his artwork. (Italics & bold added)

It seems reasonable to me that before a reporter starts accessorizing a famous individual's name with adjectives, she ought to do a little basic research. For example, Wikipedia has this to say about Adolf Eichmann:

Adolf Eichmann (March 19, 1906 — June 1, 1962) was a high-ranking official in Nazi Germany, and served as an Obersturmbannführer in the S.S.. He was largely responsible for the logistics of the extermination of millions of people during the Holocaust, in particular Jews, which was called the "final solution" (Endlösung). He organized the identification and transportation of people to the various concentration camps. Therefore, he is often referred to as the 'Chief Executioner' of the Third Reich.

It may be technically true that Eichmann was a bureaucrat, but a notorious bureaucrat? Using this same standard, Hitler was a notorious Nazi politician, Pol Pot was a notorious military leader and Stalin was a notorious Communist Head of State, John Wayne Gacy was a notorious party clown . . . Well, you get the idea.

What Ward Churchill said, as abhorant as it is, doesn't worry me. I don't like that he compared thousands of murder victims to a mass murderer, but at least he knew what he was saying when he invoked the name of Adolf Eichmann. What worries me is that a journalist, whose job it is to inform the public, believes that the best word to describe the architect of the Holocaust is "bureaucrat".

"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
~ George Santayana