May 2009 - Health Update

Someone mentioned to Ralph and I, recently, that they see us at "Everything"!!! So many causes--so little time.

However, for what we hope will be a short period, we won't be seen so frequently. In January, Ralph was diagnosed at Sloan Kettering for a skin cancer--lymphoma (not lethal). After a PET scan revealed no internal spread, the doctors recommended radiation: Total skin Electron Beam Therapy. We are beginning this on Tuesday 5/26. It is a CURE because it will completely replace Ralph's skin.(I can guarantee you all that he will be as Black as ever--before, during and after!!) There are side effects and we cannot predict how these will affect him but we are hoping to maintain some level of activism during the next two months. Please help us support all of the needs of the People through you, while we are sidelined. Send your positive vibes as well.

April 2009

We were in Denver from March 23 to March 30 to be support for Ward Churchill at his trial. This is my impression - LS

Ward Churhill's trial for the first amendment and academic freedom was held in one of those marble courthouses that you thought were only in old movies. It was downtown Denver and it was winter but the truth and light revealed in this trial of resistance were enough to "ward"(no pun intended !) off any chill. The "I am Ward Churhill" buttons were all over and the courtroom itself was filled with everyone from Amy Goodman progressives to the front line of the American Indian Movement. Most importantly, as my practiced eye scanned his jury, I could scarcely believe it--the six people who were to decide this case of principles vs expediency were all under the age of 30 !! This was a great harbinger of things that were to come.

We only arrived in time to hear the testimony of the defense--all the lackeys of the University of Colorado. Even though their direct testimony seemed to drone on as if they were reading it on a teleprompter; many times on cross, sometimes inadvertantly, the Truth reared its lovely head. For example it was revealed that the woman professor who chaired the committee to decide the non existant "academic issues" had likened Ward, in an email message to "criminal celebrities" like Michael Jackson, OJ Simpson and a pornographer. When questioned she and the people responsible for her appointment stated there was no "Bias". She was "fair"... Some of the other testimony of this seemingly endless stream of university loyalists included some very self righteous testimony about the sanctity of Acadmic "scholarship" and then admitting that Ward was the only one who was ever investigated and that others who may have looked similar, were just forgotten about.

Also, the not so thinly veiled racism was revealed when these robots testified that Native American Studies had no standards and that two of Ward's experts were described as Stupid and their theories as Absurd. But this jury wasn't having it. In an unusual courtroom procedure, Colorado permits jurors in civil cases to ask questions of witnesses. One asked the Regent if he thought that the University manufactured the academic case and leaked it to the papers when it was really covering up for the fact that they wanted Ward to be fired for his 9/11 essay? When this academician, with some degree of anger replied that the question was "crazy", the buzz was not only that he insulted this juror but also that he "protesteth too much".

We were treated to the testimony of Natsui Saito, Ward's wife, who testified on the issue of "damages". Although the lawyers had hoped for handwringing and a sad tale of enduring the horror of overwhelming publicity without being able to answer it; they instead got a bright and shining woman who talked straightforwardly about the lies told about her husband. It was only at the close that she broke down and wept as she described the result of Ward's being denied the right to teach. She painted the picture of young people who would never get to hear of the pride of the Native American heritage, who might never be able to be stengthened and healed by the history that Ward recounts. There wasn"t a dry eye in the Courtroom.

A word about the legal team headed by David Lane, a lawyer well known for his first amendment and death penalty cases. Not only was he magnificently prepared to put it to the academicians but he always presented the most up beat, positive, respectful attitude toward Ward himself. No apologies to give the jury a sense of negativity. No! only straight ahead with no apologies. One of the jurors asked a witness "Should a person apologize even if he thinks he did nothing wrong, just to satisfy another group?"

I have always been proud and happy to have my case linked to Ward Churchill's. The powers that be tried to make examples of us; he to chill the higher education dissenters and me to chill the zealous lawyers. We both confronted them with the greatest resistance we could muster. Ward made it crystal clear that all he wanted was to be teaching again, to be re-instated as a tenured professor. No Money. The jury believed in him and gave him the verdict. It is a stunning victory and another revelation of the corruption of our American society. Even in the so-called hallowed ivory towers, the rot of racist wrongs never righted and the resentment toward those who dare to speak out critically was never more clearly displayed. I believe Ward's struggle may be far from over but I know that I will be there to champion him and his right to speak AND to teach.