MADISON - A university instructor who came under scrutiny for arguing that the U.S. government orchestrated the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks said Wednesday that he won't require students to buy an essay that likens President Bush to Adolf Hitler.
Kevin Barrett said in a statement that the book that includes the essay will be recommended but not required for his introductory Islam course at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Barrett will be speaking on the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh campus next Thursday (Oct. 26) on the issue of academic freedom in Wisconsin.
The university's decision to allow Barrett to teach the course touched off a controversy this summer once his views on the terrorist attacks became widely known. Barrett has said required class reading will include mainstream views on the Sept. 11 attacks.
The book, "9/11 and Empire v.2: Christians, Jews and Muslims Speak Out," includes an essay in which Barrett wrote: "Like Bush and the neocons, Hitler and the Nazis inaugurated their new era by destroying an architectural monument and blaming its destruction on their designated enemies."
Barrett has said he was not equating Bush and Hitler as people, but comparing the Sept. 11 attacks to the 1933 burning of the German parliament building, a key event in the establishment of the Nazi dictatorship.
Barrett said students do not have to read his essay, but they are required to read three others from the book.
He said Wednesday that he would give students free digital copies of those essays because the book's publisher, Interlink, likely won't have the book in stores in time to use in his class Oct. 27.
Moira Megargee, publicity director for Interlink in Northampton, Mass., said the book is still being edited, but they hope to have it out before Thanksgiving.
Barrett said Wednesday by phone that the school did not pressure him to make the change. UW-Madison spokesman Dennis Chaptman agreed.