When disgraced university professor Ward Churchill labeled the victims of 9/11 "little eichmanns," he inadvertently helped the public become aware of academia's other "little ward churchills." Mr. Churchill is appealing his looming dismissal -- for research misconduct and not his incredibly insensitive hate talk -- from the University of Colorado. And speaking of incredibly insensitive hate talk, meet one of the little ward churchills, Kevin Barrett.
Mr. Barrett is a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor who claims the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings was a ploy by the U.S. government to justify a preplanned war in Iraq. And so, of course, he will be teaching a course titled "Islam: Religion and Culture" this fall.
"Academic freedom," says Spineless U-Madison.
Barrett claimed he will present not only his views in the classroom, according to published reports. "I present what I consider to be interesting and/or defensible positions, and urge the students to come to their own conclusions," Barrett said to ABC News by e-mail. "I try to present ideas that I absolutely detest with as much enthusiasm as those I love, and often succeed."
Will, next semester, white supremacist David Duke be teaching eugenics at UW-Madison and urge his students to come to their own conclusions about how best to purify the Caucasian race?
Barrett did not reply to phone and e-mail messages from this column requesting comment. The university directs Barrett-gate media inquiries to the official statements posted on its Web site.
What exactly does a professor have to say -- even one without tenure such as Barrett -- before a college or university says "enough"? Other than admitting voting for Ronald Reagan, that is, or suggesting Israel has a right not to be exterminated by Arab terrorism?
How many more little ward churchills are there in so-called higher education? And does it really matter since it seems they can say anything that -- if submitted as student term papers -- would receive failing grades from professors who are not certifiably insane.
Maybe the solution lies with the patron saints of every Marxist-loving pointy-headed tenured intelectoid.
Stalin's purges and Mao's Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution cleansed universities of the "unfit." But as usually happens when communism purifies, people tend to get carried away. As were the untold millions of innocents murdered by the state or banished to gulags and re-education camps.
For a less drastic, politically incorrect and yet more effective solution, visit David Horowitz at frontpagemag.com and see how the good guys are doing in the battle for academic freedom. As of July 2006, the Web site claims more than 67,500,000 hits.
Mr. Horowitz, nationally known author, lifelong civil rights activist and familiar guest on cable TV news channels, admits he helped give birth to the New Left and edited the very liberal Ramparts magazine before he came to his senses.
Now he is leading the charge to make college campuses free-speech zones for everyone -- as rumor has it they had been a long, long time ago -- instead of just for the little ward churchills and their lemmings.
Until schools start dismissing their little kevin barretts for inane behavior, "academic" in academic freedom only can be defined as "having no practical purpose or use."
Dimitri Vassilaros can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-380-5637.