Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Embattled lecturer back in hot water

Following an article published Tuesday, outspoken University of Wisconsin lecturer Kevin Barrett was hit with a fresh barrage of demands calling for his dismissal. Critics also argued his controversial views were anti-Semitic and "hateful."

Outcry erupted Tuesday after Channel 27 revealed a controversial text for Barrett's class, "Islam: religion and culture," was required material. The text, "9/11 and American Empire: Muslims, Jews, and Christians Speak Out," includes 15 essays co-edited by Barrett.

Despite his own essay, "Interpreting the Unspeakable: The Myth of 9/11," not being one of the course's required readings, Barrett was met with dissent Tuesday after the Channel 27 article revealed Barrett's essay compared Bush to Hitler and slammed Israel.


Barrett, whose views hold the 9/11 Commission Report was a sham by the American government to conceal an inside job surrounding the bombing of the World Trade Towers, said his views were misinterpreted by the Channel 27 piece.

"It took my essay completely out of context to make the whole book sound outrageous," Barrett said. "You couldn't have a better textbook example of a mendacious news story."

Two topics in his article Barrett said were misrepresented were his views on the relationship between the United States, Israel and 9/11, and the Bush administration's motivation to devise the 9/11 calamity.

In an interview with The Badger Herald, Barrett said in the wake of an economic setback, the Bush administration wanted to use American military power to "seize the world's oil" and force other countries to "accept our green paper." Simultaneously, Barrett said, Israeli Jews were becoming a minority within their own borders, which led to an overall feeling of crisis for Israel and what Barrett called "the American Empire."

"This explains why such desperate measures as 9/11 would be attempted," Barrett said. "But ironically, 9/11 is actually going to hasten the destruction of this empire by turning the whole world against us … and destroying our democracy."

In his article, Barrett said Americans repressed 9/11 because people enjoy watching violence. He writes in his article that the American people "experienced a powerful wave of forbidden pleasure at the destructive spectacle."

Barrett said his article offers an explanation of why the majority of Americans are not willing to "face the facts" about what most people call the Sept. 11 attacks, but Barrett calls "in-your-face controlled demolition."

"People take pleasure in things they instinctively know they shouldn't … car crashes, plane crashes, building demolitions," Barrett said. "It's a kind of morbid fascination." The use of this textbook in a UW classroom gave state politicians yet another reason to insist upon Barrett's dismissal. But UW Provost Patrick Farrell, who ultimately made the decision this summer to keep Barrett at UW, stood firm through this most recent round of Barrett-related media.

Farrell, who said he did not agree with Barrett's theories, also said he was aware of Barrett's syllabus before the fall semester began, and knew Barrett planned to present several viewpoints on 9/11 to his students. Farrell added students should have the opportunity to think through intellectual information by themselves.

"The point is, in a course — this one or any other course — is it fair for a faculty member to ask you to read stuff that anybody might find at worst, offensive, maybe uncomfortable?" Farrell said. "And in defense and pursuit of education, I would say yeah, that's fair."

Gubernatorial candidates Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle and Rep. Mark Green, R-Wis., have both opposed Barrett's employment at UW since the onset of the media stir this summer, and both candidates reinforced their opinion Tuesday.

"It's appalling to think that taxpayers are paying the salary of an individual who would have us believe the attacks of Sept. 11 were orchestrated by President Bush, or that the heroics of Flight 93 were a 'mini-myth,'" Green said in a statement. "The UW needs to fire Mr. Barrett immediately and put an end to this embarrassment."

Doyle spokesperson Matt Canter said Doyle thinks Barrett should not be allowed to lecture at UW, but maintains that UW should make its own personnel judgment calls.

"He thinks that this is crazy and this material is offensive and it has no place in our classroom," Canter said. Canter said Doyle's opinion is not based on Barrett's beliefs, but rather his lack of competence. When asked to explain how the two measures were different, Canter said, "I think I'm going to leave it where it is."

Rep. Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, issued a statement Tuesday calling Barrett a "hateful individual," and strongly encouraging his dismissal.

Suder said based on the Channel 27's article, he finds Barrett's textbook to be anti-Semitic and inappropriate for classroom use. Suder called Barrett a "kook" and said the university should sever all ties with the lecturer.

"By forcing students to read this type of material, I think he is conveying — through his power as a lecturer — a message of hate," Suder said.

Barrett insists he does not enforce his views on his students in lecture, regardless of the fact that he uses "9/11 and American Empire: Muslims, Jews, and Christians Speak Out" to teach his class. Students read their professors' work all the time, Barrett said, and to say they are forced to agree is "complete lunacy."

Barrett added he "strongly disagrees" with much of the assigned reading in his course, but his personal opinions are irrelevant because he presents viewpoints that are balanced and pertinent to the class.

"You don't go to university classes to agree with stuff you read," Barrett said. "You go to argue with stuff you read."

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