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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, February 18, 2005

Controversial professor to speak at UH

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

A University of Colorado professor whose comments about the 9/11 terrorist attacks created a national firestorm has been invited to speak at the University of Hawai'i next week.

Ward Churchill

Ethnic Studies Professor Ward Churchill will hold a public lecture, "Speaking Truth to Power: Academic Freedom in the Age of Terror," at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the UH Art Auditorium. His appearance is being sponsored by several UH and community organizations.

Churchill has come under fire since he compared some World Trade Center victims to a Nazi war criminal soon after the attacks. His comments led Colorado's governor to call for Churchill's firing and the University of Colorado Board of Regents to launch an investigation into whether a tenured professor could be removed.

Several colleges and universities have canceled scheduled lectures by Churchill. Others have invited him to speak because they feel that Churchill's First Amendment right to freedom of speech is being restricted.

"We figured we better at least signal that, here in Hawai'i, which is a little more open-minded state than some others, we wanted to signal that we really believe in free expression not just for non-controversial ideas, but for controversial ideas, because that's what free expression is for," said Robert Perkinson, a professor of American Studies, one of the sponsoring groups.

UH spokeswoman Carolyn Tanaka said last night that she was not aware of the event.

But Perkinson said the administration has been told of Churchill's scheduled appearance and "has been very supportive so far."

Reach Curtis Lum at culum@honoluluadvertiser.com or at 525-8025.