Gov. Jim Doyle is hinting that a controversial lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison may be unfit to teach.
Doyle told reporters on Friday that based on a letter he received from Islamic studies lecturer Kevin Barrett, the university must look closely at "whether he has the capacity to teach students."
In an interview, Barrett claimed much of the letter he sent to the governor was merely a parody, suggesting that anyone espousing critical or conspiratorial views would be considered unfit to teach at the university.
But based on Doyle's reaction, Barrett said, "I question his ability to govern the state."
He added that Doyle is "making himself into another McCarthyite."
Barrett has drawn fire for his plans to teach an Islamic studies course next fall that questions whether the U.S. government was involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in Washington, D.C., and New York City.
Some state lawmakers, conservative commentators and Republican gubernatorial candidate U.S. Rep. Mark Green have called for Barrett's firing.
Doyle, a UW-Madison graduate, said the issue of Barrett's employment is not "a matter so much on what his political views are" as his fitness to teach students.
Doyle described the letter, dated July 5, as "sort of a diatribe about a lot of different issues."
"One of the things you want at the university is someone who bases their teaching on facts. If there's any institution that should be devoted to a factual analysis of what's going on, it should be the university," he said.
Doyle added, "This is for the university to look at, but I think they really have to take a hard look at that."
In the letter to Doyle, Barrett acknowledged the governor's previous criticism: "You apparently believe that I am incapable of performing well as an instructor of Islam 370 because I am convinced that the 9/11 Commission Report is a farcical coverup and that overwhelming evidence suggests top U.S. officials were complicit in the attacks of September 11th, 2001.
"I understand that you are under political pressure from your right flank, and that you may feel you have no choice but to call for my dismissal," Barrett wrote.
But he cited polls that show large numbers of Americans and Wisconsin residents believe the government's official report on the Sept. 11 attacks is wrong.
"I understand that there are Green and Libertarian candidates running for governor, and I predict that the controlled demolition of our corrupt two-party system by the 9/11 truth movement may begin here in Wisconsin this fall, with you and Mr. Green serving as first victims," Barrett continued.
Barrett also included a farcical questionnaire that he said would be required for anyone teaching at the UW. The questions included, "Do you believe that the Warren Report performed a thorough and unbiased investigation of the murder of JFK?" and "Do you believe that allegations of government involvement in the assassinations of Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, John Lennon, Mel Carnahan, and Paul Wellstone, and the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, have been conclusively disproven?"
Anyone answering no to a question could be dismissed, he said, and signed the letter "Steve Nass, Reichschancellor, Thoughtcrime Division, University of Wisconsin-Madison."
Nass is a Republican state representative from Whitewater who has called for Barrett's firing.
David Walsh, president of the Board of Regents at the University of Wisconsin, has characterized the issue as one of academic freedom and is not calling for Barrett's dismissal.
UW-Madison officials have said they are reviewing Barrett's plans for the class and will likely announce their decision on his hiring next week.