MADISON, Wis. - Sixty-one state lawmakers sent a letter Thursday calling on University of Wisconsin-Madison to fire an instructor who believes the U.S. government orchestrated the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The letter signed by 52 Assembly representatives and nine state senators, including Republican leaders, condemns a decision earlier this month by UW-Madison Provost Pat Farrell allowing Kevin Barrett to teach an introductory class this fall on Islam.
Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, said the letter, which called Barrett's views "academically dishonest," sent a strong message to top UW leaders.
"When 61 legislators condemn a decision by UW-Madison and demand the dismissal of Kevin Barrett, the leadership of the UW System operates at its own peril if it continues to ignore views of the taxpayers," he said in a statement.
The signatories included Assembly Speaker John Gard, Assembly Majority Leader Mike Huebsch and Senate President Alan Lasee. All but one, Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer of Manitowoc, were Republicans.
The lawmakers sent the letter to the governor, university leaders and Barrett instead of approving a formal resolution offered by Nass during the last day of their session last week. Republicans did not take up the resolution, saying it was not the right day for political bickering.
Barrett is active in a group of scholars who believe the twin towers were blown up by U.S. government operatives to spark war in the Middle East. His remarks drew intense criticism from politicians who questioned whether he was fit to teach.
After a 10-day review, Farrell said Barrett is a qualified instructor, has good plans for his class and can present his unconventional views as one perspective on the attacks. Farrell stood by his conclusion on Thursday.
"I still have every expectation this will be a very positive educational experience for our students," he said. "Some are upset about Mr. Barrett's viewpoints on 9/11 and don't want to pay much attention to what makes for a quality educational experience."
Barrett, who has blasted the Legislature's move as a waste of time, will earn $8,247 as a part-time instructor in the fall semester.