If you’ll recall, my initial statement on Ward Churchill was that I found his scholarly work extremely weak, and agreed that his case raised questions about standards and expectations in academic life, particularly in programs that see identity as a crucial source of scholarly or intellectual capital.
If the heart of the matter is standards, however, then the continuing work is to define what constitutes a minimum expectation for scholarly ability and performance, and to respond evenly to breaches of that expectation. Otherwise, complaints really are just “I don’t like or agree with Ward Churchill or [insert name here], ergo, throw the bum out”.
So riddle me this: why isn’t John Yoo just as big a hack when it comes to constitutional law as Ward Churchill was when it came to Native American history? This isn’t about simple disagreement with the substance of his arguments in the “torture memos”. It’s about Yoo making claims (claims with consequences far greater than what normally follows from scholarship, even legal scholarship) that are just factually wrong or are screamingly disingenuous.
Whatever the standards might be for employment at the Justice Department (a different issue), shouldn’t this kind of approach to knowledge and scholarship disqualify someone for an academic post?