Bill Bradford and the Indian Hunt at Indianapolis Law, Continued: Is the Cover-Up Unravelling? · 30 August 2005

Filed under: Indiana, Press Coverage

the Cover-Up Unravelling?
by Professor X

Readers who are familiar with this terrible story, the scandalous persecution of the Apache army veteran Bill Bradford at Indiana University-Indianapolis School of Law, can skip to paragraph 6 below. But for readers of Frontpage who haven't followed this scandal up to now:

This spring William Bradford, an untenured associate professor on the law faculty at Indiana University-Indianapolis, received a poor vote from his colleagues both on a straw vote for his eventual tenure, and even on a vote simply to retain him as an untenured associate professor for the next three years. This vote occurred despite the fact that Bradford has an outstanding teaching record (including a teaching award from the law students), an excellent record of service, and a simply stunning record of publication, including a book, a forthcoming book, and 21 articles in law reviews or in books. Usually this would be enough to assure someone at IU-Indy School of Law not only tenure but a tenured full professorship. Indeed, one of Bradford's colleagues, with a very similar record of publication, and who came to IU-Indy School of Law in the same semester as Bradford, has just received not merely promotion to tenure as an associate professor but promotion to a tenured full professorship. Bradford believes that what happened in his case was primarily his refusal last winter to sign a petition which circulated in the law school-a petition which supported Ward Churchill, the Professor of Ethnic Studies at Colorado who described the victims of 9/11 as "little Eichmanns" who deserved what they got. The petition was circulated by Florence Roisman, who is a full professor holding a prestigious Chair in the law school. Bradford's position was that as far as he was concerned, someone who couldn't distinguish between commercial office workers and Nazis who engineered the Holocaust did not deserve to teach.

This is more than the story of the oppression of just another conservative (or in Bradford's case a liberterian). What is striking is Bradford's special status. To begin with, he is an Army veteran with 10 years service, including in the First Gulf War, as well as at the Pentagon, where he was on the staff of Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Shalikashvili. And in addition to his law degree, Bradford also holds a Ph.D. in International Relations (from Northwestern). And finally, while Ward Churchill only claims falsely to be an Indian, William Bradford really IS an Indian. He is a Chiricahua Apache. Bradford says that Roisman's response to his refusal to sign the Ward Churchill petition was to say to him: "What kind of an Indian ARE you?" Bradford sees this as an expectation by his leftist colleagues, and especially Roisman, that as an Indian he should support any other Indian-or even, it seems, anyone who just CLAIMS to be an Indian. Bradford calls such expectations racist.

After he refused to conform to Roisman's view of what an Indian's opinions should properly be, Bradford in March 2005 applied for tenure at IU-Indy Law. His formal application was turned down by Interim Dean Susanah Mead, due to "recent events in the promotion and tenure committee," and then it was turned down by William Plater, Vice Chancellor of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (of which the law school is a part), on the grounds that after only three years at the law school, he was not yet eligible for tenure. This was untrue (see below). Meanwhile, Roisman engineered a vote in the law school in which one-third of the faculty voted against Bradford for any future tenure, and one-third voted as well against retaining him even for three more years even untenured. That is, in April 2005 one-third of the law faculty voted for Bradford's immediate dismissal. Compare this vote with what had occurred just 120 days previously, before he refused to sign the Ward Churchill petition: the law faculty in November 2004 voted unanimously (19-0) that Bradford should be promoted from assistant professor to associate professor. The 10-5 vote this spring is a bad sign concerning Bradford's eventual tenure; university administrations only rarely grant tenure to someone against whom one-third of the department has voted. The significant number of votes for his immediate dismissal is especially insulting, and HAD to be political in origin, because on the merits (teaching, service, publication), Bradford should obviously already be tenured. Letters from Harvard, Miami and the University of Arizona had asserted this: "a ridiculously easy case." Indeed, under the standards prevailing at IU-Indy Law, Bradford should probably be a full professor. Instead, this patriotic Apache veteran-a person with enormous accomplishments--is on his way out of a job, done in by a leftist cabal.

One of Roisman's allies in the anti-Bradford campaign has been Professor Mary Harter Mitchell, who, like Roisman, holds an endowed Chair in the law school. Mitchell has one small book of case law (1982), and a grand total of two published scholarly articles to her credit. She has joined with Roisman in an "ethics suit" against Bradford (see below). The Apache veteran Bradford has, literally, published ten times more legal scholarship than Professor Mitchell has, in one-eighth the time. Just imagine.

After trying repeatedly to get remediation of this situation through University channels, Bradford in June was contacted by the press-The Indianapolis Star-at first about a gender-discriminatory (women only) party at the law school for Interim Dean Susanah Mead being hosted by Roisman and Mitchell, but then his own case came up. The story about him caused a splash. Roisman has responded by filing an "ethics violation" suit against Bradford with the Vice Chancellor of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis-William Plater. Plater, meanwhile, has already publicly defended Roisman in print in a letter under University letter-head sent to The Indianapolis Star on July 3. In that letter, Plater also asserted that Bradford had never formally applied for tenure, and asserted taht this was because Bradford was ineligible for tenure. In other words, the Vice Chancellor of the University called Bradford a liar in print, in the most important newspaper in Indiana. This is the same man who is now in charge of administering Roisman's "ethics complaint" against Bradford. He has refused to recuse himself. And he has personally appointed a "committee of investigation": two well-known leftists and a feminist ally of Roisman.

Things have looked bleak for Bradford this summer. But Bradford has not been without allies, including Frontpage. The result is that members of the the Indiana State Legislature have become interested in what is going on at IU-Indy Law: the impeding crucifixion of a patriotic veteran for his refusal to sign a petition in support of Ward Churchill. On Thursday August 25 Indiana State Representative Jeff Thompson spoke with Dr. Charles R. Bantz, Chancellor of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis: that is, with Vice Chancellor Plater's immediate superior. Representative Thompson chairs the Indiana House Committee responsible for the funding of Indiana University with tax-payers' funds. The information that follows is drawn from Representative Thompson's account of that interview with Chancellor Bantz.

Chancellor Bantz told Thompson last Thursday that yes, indeed (and despite Plater's ruling), it turns out that Bradford under the University's rules was eligible for tenure. The Chancellor then expressed some doubt about whether Bradford had formally applied for it-at which point Thompson read to the Chancellor from a copy of the formal application made by Bradford on March 24 to the two appropriate University authorities. Chancellor Bantz then conceded that yes, Bradford must have formally applied for tenure. The Chancellor then commented to Representative Thompson that Bradford had a "fantastic" file, and should "have no trouble getting tenure." Representative Thompson then asked the Chancellor to convey these facts and his assessment up the chain of command, to Dr. Adam Herbert, the President of the Indiana University system as a whole--which the Chancellor promised to do. Thompson has indicated to Bradford that he intends to follow up his inquiries on Bradford's behalf, both with Chancellor Bantz and with President Herbert.

These were extremely significant admissions and comments on the part of Chancellor Bantz. It is clear that outside pressure such as that coming from State Representative Thompson is probably the only way that Bill Bradford can now get justice at IU-Indy Law. So it is important for all Indiana readers of Frontpage to contact their State Legislators, and the Governor, and urge them to support Bradford.

But there is more: what is to be done about Vice Chancellor Plater? According to Chancellor Bantz's own admissions last Thursday, we now know that William Plater misinformed the Indiana public about crucial aspects of the Bradford case, made false statements about Bradford, and attacked Bradford on false grounds-all on University letterhead, and all in the leading newspaper in the state. Certainly Vice Chancellor Plater should be required to write a new and apologetic letter to The Indianapolis Star, under University letterhead, correcting his earlier letter, a letter which no doubt damaged Bradford's reputation and in a manner (we now know from the Chancellor of the University himself) which was false But most important is this: given his previous conduct-and no matter what his motives may have been-it ought to be clear that Vice Chancellor Plater is the very LAST person who should be in charge of any "ethics investigation" instituted by Florence Roisman against Bradford. The appearance of conflict of interest (to put it charitably) is too blatant. Yet he still refuses to recuse himself.

Indeed, Plater's choices for membership on the "investigatory committee", choices so grotesquely prejudicial against Bradford, should themselves have been enough to force his recusal from anything to do with the processes involving Bradford-and that was before Chancellor Bantz revealed to the state legislature that Plater had grossly misinformed the entire Indiana public, in the leading newspaper of the state, about crucial aspects of the Bradford case. In addition, of course, Plater's hand-picked "hanging jury" should be dismissed from its task, and a truly neutral party appointed to see whether Roisman's charges are worth the University's time in the first place (they are not).

So not only must pressure continue to be put on the state legislators in Indiana to make sure that Bill Bradford receives justice in general. The assignment as the school year begins is to put pressure on Bill Plater to dismiss his hanging jury, remove himself from all processes involving Bill Bradford, and write a formal letter of apology and correction to The Indianapolis Star for his previous gross misinformation given to that newspaper. The question is: will any of this happen?

And if something is not done along these lines, however, the way the university system works means that-even after Chancellor Bantz's good and important conversation with Representative Thompson--Bill Bradford, a real, and patriotic, American Indian, will likely still be destroyed for his having refused to sign a petition in favor of the traitor (and false Indian) Ward Churchill.