University of Colorado Prof. Ward Churchill

The University of Colorado reversed itself this afternoon, and is allowing Ward Churchill to give a speech tonight on campus.

Churchill, the professor who prompted a national furor by condemning 9-11 victims as “little Eichmanns” and praising the terrorists for their “gallant sacrifices,” went to federal court earlier in the day to challenge the school’s cancellation of his speech.

“We have been very concerned about the safety and security of everyone involved in the address by Professor Churchill,” Ron Stump, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, said, according to the Rocky Mountain News. “Today, we met again with students who retracted their earlier reports of death threats and urged us to allow the event to go forward.”

Earlier this month, Hamilton College in upstate New York canceled a speech by Churchill because of death threats against the professor and its administrators.

In his filing, Churchill claimed the cancellation was “nothing but an effort to stifle me and not let me speak on a matter of public and personal concern.”

Saying both his rights and those of the people who planned to listen to him were violated, Churchill said, “I was intending to explain my meaning to the audience, in particular the CU student body.”

David Lane, an attorney for a pro-Churchill student group, told Denver station KDVR-TV: “The university … is obligated to provide security for Ward Churchill. They simply can’t put a gag in his mouth by telling him, ‘Well, there are these violent wackos out there that want kill you so we’re not going to let you give your speech.'”

As WorldNetDaily reported, the controversy swirling around Churchill stems from an essay he wrote titled “Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens,” written shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. In it, he describes the thousands of American victims who died in the World Trade Center inferno as “little Eichmanns” (a reference to notorious Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann) who were perpetuating America’s “mighty engine of profit.” They were destroyed, he added, thanks to the “gallant sacrifices” of “combat teams” that successfully targeted the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon.

The American Civil Liberties Union has defended Churchill, calling on regents, legislators and the governor “to stop threatening Mr. Churchill’s job because of the content of his opinions.”

Churchill resigned his position as head of the Colorado University ethnic studies program but kept his $96,000 per year teaching post. He has steadfastly refused to apologize for his comments.

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