from MSNBC transcripts
for February 7, 2005
transcript of 10pm ET show segment
Guests: Ann Coulter, Paul Levinson
JOE SCARBOROUGH (HOST):: More shocking comments from Colorado Professor Ward Churchill, who attacks America and says—what does he say on the taxpayers‘ dime? That we need more 9/11s.
That story next.
SCARBOROUGH: Now, as we told you last week, University of Colorado Professor Ward Churchill faces possible firing for comparing 9/11 victims to Nazis and for praising al Qaeda terrorists who killed 3,000 Americans. He called them heroes. The university has 30 days to read everything that Churchill has written. And they may want to read this interview from 2004.
He said—quote—“One of the things I suggested is that it may be that more 9/11s are necessary. This seems like such a no-brainer that I hate to frame it in terms of actual transformation of consciousness.”
Now, Denver radio talk show host Peter Boyles spoke to Churchill and the father of a 9/11 victim last week. Let‘s listen to that exchange.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
FATHER OF 9/11 VICTIM: My son was an assistant trader at Cantor Fitzgerald. He was 23, his first job out of college.
WARD CHURCHILL, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO: Well, I would like to do something here. I would like to engage you.
PETER BOYLES, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Let me ask him, if I could, before it gets away, Ward, would his son have qualified as one of the little Eichmanns?
CHURCHILL: Yes, he would have.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: That is unbelievable. That is just unbelievable that this guy, after this controversy breaks, this guy is telling the father of a dead 23- year-old son that he would qualify as an Eichmann, again, Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi that was the architect of the Holocaust, six million Jews killed. The guy seems like a beast.
Well, author and now DVD star Ann Coulter is with us. It‘s a great honor to have her back in SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. We also have Fordham University media Professor Paul Levinson.
Ann, let‘s begin with you. And I just got to ask you—again, here‘s the quote. This guy says in 2004: “More 9/11s are necessary.” We hear time and time again that this is about free speech, but I say, if it‘s public university, it‘s about taxpayer-funded speech. What is your take?
ANN COULTER, AUTHOR, “HOW TO TALK TO A LIBERAL (IF YOU MUST)”: Right.
Well, more than that, don‘t call yourself a radical if you have tenure. Everyone else in the world suffers consequences for the things they say, if they said something as outrageous as this. These guys want to go around acting like big radicals, getting laid by coeds with hairy armpits, who probably don‘t like men, by going to conferences and saying, oh, yes, I‘m the one who said that.
And they can say more and more outrageous things because they are never at risk of losing a job, unlike everyone else in the universe. Whatever you say about any of the crazy things professors say, maybe they are right. Maybe they have a very good point. Maybe it‘s worth listening to them. But the one thing you can‘t say about them is they are courageous. Other people are putting their jobs on the lines. So, if you want to be called a radical, then give up the tenure before you start going around shooting off your mouth like this.
SCARBOROUGH: Ann, I have been asking this question of conservatives and of moderates and even some liberals who are offended by this type of talk on campus. Why is it that everybody can be held accountable, but our Republican president, our Republican Senate, our Republican House, our Republican governors, our Republican state legislators all say the same thing, which is we can‘t do anything about it, academic freedom, when, again, we are not talking about free speech? We are talking about speech, that, just like an NEA so- called art display where you put a crucifix in urine, that is subsidized.
It‘s not art, and this is not free speech.
COULTER: No, and it‘s especially preposterous coming from probably the least tolerant of free speech institutions in America, college campuses, where they have speech codes on hate speech and people—students at risk of being expelled for jokes or inappropriate laughing.
I mean, of all places in the world where—and Larry Summers, look over that the furor over that a few weeks ago, when he opined that there might—we might want to have some scientific research into whether there are innate differences between men and women. He was nearly driven out of town, fainting, whining, screeching.
So of all places to be talking about academic freedom. But as many people who engage in free speech for a living know, there are consequences and you could lose your job. You could lose your show. People could not buy your books. You could lose a radio show. This is the one industry where you can‘t be fired for what you say.
And they have the audacity to walk around with the long hair and the shades acting like he‘s a radical. I mean, I really find that more offensive than anything else. This is a little craven chicken who can‘t lose his job squealing about the fact that his tenure is even being considered for revocation right now, show that he knew he had absolute job security, and he would just shoot off his mouth. And it‘s like farting in a church. It‘s just, what‘s the most outrageous thing I can say?
SCARBOROUGH: Yes. And the most interesting thing is, again, for these people at these college campuses to talk about free speech, they have obviously never been a conservative trying to give a speech at a campus, where you are booed and hissed and not allowed to continue.
Paul Levinson, let me bring you in here. And I want to ask you to explain to Americans why somebody that speaks, a professor that is paid by the government, by taxpayers, why that person can‘t be held accountable for hate speech, whereas, if somebody works at a private institution, like Fordham, such as yourself, you know, it seems to me that institution should be isolated from taxpayer revolt.
PAUL LEVINSON, CHAIR, MEDIA STUDIES, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Well, I think you and Ann don‘t understand how tenure works. No one is saying that this obnoxious, disgusting person has some kind of immunity from being fired. And, as a matter of fact, the last I heard, his university is looking over his record, and will make a decision.
SCARBOROUGH: How many tenured professors have been fired at Fordham in the past five years?
LEVINSON: I don‘t know. I have no idea.
SCARBOROUGH: Because they...
LEVINSON: But that‘s not the point. Tenure is not an absolute immunity.
SCARBOROUGH: It‘s about as damn close as you can get.
LEVINSON: As a matter of fact, one reason why tenured professors have been fired over the years is there aren‘t enough students in their courses. And for an economic reason, they can‘t be continued at the university.
So there‘s a sort of public myth that university professors with tenure can do anything they want and they can‘t be fired. That‘s just flatly not true.
SCARBOROUGH: I will ask you again, when is the last time that a tenured professor got fired at any institution where you worked?
LEVINSON: The last time a tenured professor got fired at an institution where I worked, I can‘t give you an answer, because I am not an expert on when people get fired.
But I can flatly guarantee you that, if you look over the last, say, 50 years of American history, you will find that there are any number of tenured professors who have been fired, for a variety of reasons.
SCARBOROUGH: Ann Coulter...
LEVINSON: So this is a myth, which it may make you and Ann Coulter happy to imagine it‘s the case, but it‘s not the case. And furthermore...
LEVINSON: To show you that you are wrong, why, then, is the University of Colorado considering whether or not to continue...
SCARBOROUGH: I will tell you why, because for the first time...
LEVINSON: Because tenure is not an absolute guarantee.
SCARBOROUGH: For the first time in 30 years, since radicals have taken over campus, it‘s taken a clown like Ward Churchill to wake Americans up and say enough is enough.
LEVINSON: It‘s nonsense to say that radicals have taken over campuses.
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, good God. What are they, conservatives?
LEVINSON: There‘s a very vibrant Republican Party on our campus. One of my students by the name of Lara Hanson organized a debate between Democrats and Republicans...
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m not talking about Fordham specifically.
LEVINSON: Then don‘t say radicals have taken over campuses. That‘s just not true.
SCARBOROUGH: Are you suggesting that there‘s an equal conservative presence on campus?
LEVINSON: Yes, I am suggesting that if you look at the last election...
SCARBOROUGH: You are suggesting that?
LEVINSON: Yes. I think that there are conservatives. There are radicals.
SCARBOROUGH: Among professors?
LEVINSON: It‘s a continuum. Conservatives like to put up as sort of a boogeyman...
SCARBOROUGH: College professors? Are you saying there‘s an equality among college professors in America between liberals and conservatives? Because if so, and if at Fordham...
LEVINSON: Have you done a survey? Do you know that there isn‘t?
SCARBOROUGH: Well, actually, there was a survey out six months ago that said seven out of eight—it was reported in “The New York Times” that seven out of eight, tenured professors, interviewed said they leaned to the left. But I‘ll tell you what.
LEVINSON: Nobody asked me in that survey.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, I will tell you what, though. You know what? My son wants to go to school in New York. And he‘s looking at Fordham. If it‘s that split down the middle, I am going to order him to go.
SCARBOROUGH: Ann Coulter, am I—listen, I respect Paul Levinson, but there‘s a part of me that says he is kind of like Dan Rather when Dan Rather said, “The New York Times” biased? Wait a second. “The New York Times” is in the mainstream of American politics.
COULTER: No. In fact, I think I can tell you the last time a professor in the United States of America had his tenure revoked. My law firm defended him here in New York, Professor Levin—I think it was at CCNY—for academic articles he had written on ethics that were not P.C.
SCARBOROUGH: I was going to say, he must have been a conservative.
COULTER: Yes. It was a major investigation into—it was directly on free speech.
And I think the point that Professor Levinson doesn‘t understand is that in industries other than teaching with tenure, it doesn‘t take 17 TV shows featuring your comments every night for you to have your job at risk. You can be fired a lot faster.
SCARBOROUGH: We are going to have to leave it there.
But, Ann Coulter and Paul Levinson, thank you so much. I have always loved Jesuit institutions. I think my son is going to be going to one in a year and a half, whether he likes it or not.
Joey, return the card to Fordham University.
You are visitor number 829