Skeptic on 9/11 Prompts Questions on Academic Freedom
As children zoomed by on tricycles and shot basketballs at a community center near his home, Mr. Barrett, 47, described how some news orgainzations (the French daily newspaper Figaro and Radio France International, in fact) had reported that an agent from the Central Intelligence Agency visited with Osama bin Laden two months before the attacks. He also said fires could not have caused the collapse of the World Trade Center towers at free-fall speed, as reported by the special Sept. 11 commission. “The 9/11 report will be universally reviled as a sham and a cover-up very soon,” said Mr. Barrett, who has been a teacher’s assistant or lecturer on Islam, African literature and other subjects at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, since 1996. “The 9/11 commission has its conspiracy theory, and we have ours.”
Mr. Barrett’s views, which he described on a conservative radio talk show in June, have outraged some Wisconsin legislators and generated a fierce debate about academic freedom on a campus long known as a haven for progressive ideologies and student activism.
“They apparently have no limits to what can be taught in the classroom,” Representative Steve Nass said of the university’s decision to allow Mr. Barrett to teach a class this fall titled “Islam: Religion and Culture.”
comments powered by Disqus
Randll Reese Besch - 8/6/2006
One of the problems is that Gore had won the election but the Supreme Court acted unconstitutionally & therefore we are in a multi-constitutional crisis even now.
Bush did say he & his PNAC ilk needed a "Pearl Harbor" to get things going. So we see all of their items including the thinly veilled dictatorship of the "Unitary Executive" in motion.
Gene Fein - 8/2/2006
Academic freedom does not equate to academic irresponsibility. As John Beatty states, if the subject was denying the Holocaust -- or if the instructor suggested that he had constructed a "biological theory" proving white supremacy -- Barrett would be sacked almost immediately. I just hope that students in Madison have the intellectual ability to comprehend the difference between an extensive (albeit not necessarily exhaustive) government report and heresay/conjecture from the French and an amateur "expert" in engineering.
John D. Beatty - 8/2/2006
This silliness has nothing to do with academic freedom and everything to do with UW faculty biases.
If this clown was also advocating a holocost denier or a Hitler apologist to teach in the People's Republic of Madison, that would be diffferent. But he isn't, and no one is.
If Gore had won in 2000 this "debate" wouldn't even get off the ground. The towers would still be down, but there would be no thought of "conspiracy" over it.
- Harvard's Steven Shapin Wins History of Science Award
- Middle East Studies Association Fights a Rising Tide of Critics
- Juan Cole says the postwar Middle East governments were modeled on the Soviet Union, though not communist (interview)
- Ted Widmer picks the 5 best presidential books worth reading
- AHA backs California's LGBT History law