(PRWEB) August 16, 2005
University of Colorado-Boulder Ethnic Studies professor Ward Churchill has received a surge of overwhelming press in 2005, largely due to his controversial stances on issues provoking outrage amongst most Americans. Churchill, who often waxes poetic about political and social topics, has been hailed by supporters as a champion of American Indian rights, academic freedom, and oppressed indigenous peoples worldwide. Unsatisfied that Churchill was putting his 'money where he mouth is' in terms of real charity, two cartoonists Â Ron Leishman and Grant Crowell Â recently announced the availability of Ward Churchill caricatures, based on Churchill's most notorious escapades.
Leishman and Crowell are an unusual match for collaborating on a cartoon project as politically unique as Ward Churchill. Both of them had originally worked together on commercial illustration projects for months before the subject was even discussed.
Crowell considers Leishman a perfect partner in reaching a broad audience with this compelling, yet confrontational subject matter. ÂRon has a drawing style similar to mine, and is quite adept at making funny and poignant commentary in a simple way.Â
ÂI never heard of Ward Churchill before Grant told me about him, Âconfesses Leishman, who's Toonaday.com cartoons typically focus on apolitical subject matter. But after hearing about ChurchillÂs comments on the World Trade center victims, Leishman agreed to make an exception and do an entire cartoon series on him.
ÂIt often seems that the more intellectual someone fancies themselves, the less common sense they have,Â remarked Leishman. ÂI have to shake my head over WardÂs comments.Â
Over the past several months, the cartoonists tag-teamed ideas: Crowell would follow the news reports on Ward Churchill, and then offer sketch ideas to Leishman. The original cartoons would be used in advertisements and other materials wherever Churchill was scheduled to give a presentation.
The full cartoon set can be viewed at ToonADay.com. Crowell hopes that people will become inspired to learn not just about the controversies of Churchill, but to educate themselves on their own civil liberties.
ÂSatire is a first amendment right,Â says Crowell, Âeven if the object of the satire doesnÂt get it.Â
THE CHURCHILL/CROWELL CONNECTIONÂ
This won't be the first time that Grant Crowell and Ward Churchill have interacted. Their first dealings occurred in 1994, when Crowell was an editorial cartoonist at the University of Hawaii student newspaper, Ka Leo O Hawaii. Churchill was invited to speak at the University. The timing of his visit was shortly after Crowell had made news for satirizing the poem ÂRacist White Woman.Â The poem was authored by Haunani Kay Trask, Director of the Hawaiian Studies Center and vividly detailed her fantasy of murdering a white woman.
Churchill joined Trask and her supporters in demanding the firing and expulsion of Crowell from the University for his cartoon in the student newspaper. While addressing the crowd, Churchill declared CrowellÂs fate to be similar to an unnamed Nazi cartoonist who was executed, dismembered and cremated after the WWII Nuremberg trials.
ÂNow IÂm not saying that should happen to Grant, but if it did it would be a good thing,Â were Churchill's exact words broadcasted at the rally.
When interviewed recently by the Colorado Daily, Ward reneeged on his earlier promise to CU students for a public debate on free speech issues, labeling Crowell a Âfascist cartoonistÂ on par with Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
ÂI have to laugh at the irony,Â replied Crowell. ÂIÂm a full ethnic Jew on my MomÂs side and I even had relatives murdered in the Holocaust, and heÂs comparing me to a Nazi. All because I dared to draw a cartoon satirizing the poem of a high-ranking college administrator who was his close comrade. And this is the guy whoÂs fooled lots of college students and academia into believing that heÂs a champion of free speech? They love to dish it out, but as soon as their own belief system is challenged they demand government censorship. That's not radical at all, that's reactionary.Â
CARTOONS AND CHARITY
In an effort to bring light to what they believe is Churchill's hypocrisy, Leishman and Crowell will donate half of the art proceeds to charitable causes associated with the issues Ward Churchill speaks about. They include:
- The American Indian College Fund
- American Civil Liberties Union
- American Red Cross
- Iraqi ChildrenÂs Assistance Network
ÂWard claims to be a champion of the needy and oppressed," says Crowell. "Ward also earns a very comfortable living, making around five thousand dollars for each speaking appearance on top of a near six-figure salary, plus all the royalties from his books. But do you think he's ever donated one single dime to the causes heÂs exploited and gotten rich off of?Â
# # #