The lead paragraph:
A University of Wisconsin-Madison instructor who has come under scrutiny for saying that the U.S. government orchestrated the Sept. 11 attacks compares President Bush to Adolf Hitler in an essay that his students are being required to buy.
Oooo. Add outrage and stir.
Apparently part-time instructor Kevin Barrett is active in the group Scholars for 9/11 Truth, which claims the US government, not al Qaeda, is responsible for 9/11. That may explain why he's a "part-time" instructor.
Anyway, he's written an essay entitled "Interpreting the Unspeakable: The Myth of 9/11" which may become part of a book that he's required students buy for the course "Islam: Religion and Culture" which he's going to teach.
Now look, how dangerous can someone who writes like this be?
"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," he wrote.
Yes folks, he is comparing the WTC/Pentagon attacks to the Reichstag fire which was initiated by Hitler.
"That's not comparing them as people, that's comparing the Reichstag fire to the demolition of the World Trade Center, and that's an accurate comparison that I would stand by," he said.
Well of course he would. And that's why A) he's a part-time instructor and B) any thinking person will reject his loony ideas.
That's not to say he doesn't have a sense of humor, no matter how warped:
But he did say in an interview: "Hitler had a good 20 to 30 IQ points on Bush so comparing Bush to Hitler would in many ways be an insult to Hitler."
Well there you go. I mean, how does anyone take a person who says things like this seriously?
Oh, I know, "impressionable kids", "some will take it seriously", etc., etc. You know what, those that would take him seriously would take anyone seriously since they're predisposed to believe this stuff (IOW, he won't be the one convincing them this is true, he'll just be validating their point of view). They've already suspended rational thought on this subject.
On the other hand, for those who know he's pitching nonsense, this will be a good opportunity to see it first hand and question it (well, unless they want a good grade and then they'll just parrot this stuff back to him at the appropriate time ... such is life on campus where "critical thinking" is at least given lip service).
Meanwhile, desparate for issues, the politicos have found this a wonderful opportunity to sound off:
The UW's decision to allow Barrett to teach the course touched off a firestorm of controversy over the summer once his views became widely known.
Sixty-one state legislators denounced the move, and one county board cut its funding for the UW-Extension by $8,247 — the amount Barrett will earn for teaching the course — in a symbolic protest, even though the course has nothing to do with that branch of the UW System.
The two major-party gubernatorial candidates said Tuesday they still believe he should have been fired.
"The governor feels this is crazy, offensive and shouldn't be in the classroom," said Matt Canter, spokesman for Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle.
In a statement, Republican Mark Green said: "Kevin Barrett continues to make a complete mockery of the University of Wisconsin and our great state."
Bi-partisan condemnation, how quaint. It is an election year and apparently real issues are scarce.
Me? Academic freedom, put it out there and see who swings at it first and hardest. Marketplace of ideas. See if he can actually sell it.
I mean, could you have fun with this?
One essay Barrett is requiring is entitled: "A Clash Between Justice and Greed," about how conflicts between Islam and the western world were made up after the "collapse of the Soviet Union to justify U.S. 'defense' spending, and to provide a pretext of controlling the world's resources."
"The Remaking of Islam in the Post 911 Era" is about the assault of Islamic people by the Rand Corporation.
The author of "Interpreting Terrorism: Muslim Problem or Covert Operations Nightmare?" contends some Western intelligence agencies are doing acts of terrorism to make it look like radical Islamics.
The provost of the school decided to let Barrett go ahead after reviewing his course outline.
He said Barrett could present his ideas during one week of the course as long as students were allowed to challenge them.
He later warned Barrett to stop seeking publicity for his personal political views.
Farrell said Tuesday that he hasn't seen the essay but faculty can assign readings that may not be popular to everyone.
"I think part of the role of any challenging course here is going to encourage students to think of things from a variety of perspectives," he said.
Farrell said it's common for instructors or professors to require books they have written or contributed to.
"For many faculty a book represents their best thinking on how an issue should be presented, so why not use that 'best thinking' for the students they teach?" he said in an e-mail.
If these essays by Barrett represent his "best thinking" I say let him teach. Perhaps, at least in this case, the opportunity to point out to one of these loons how big of a loon he is might be worth a grade (do it before the deadline to drop the class without prejudice).
I can't imagine how anything this man has to say could be classified as "dangerous". Nope, students will come up with many more colorful adjectives to describe Barrett, but "dangerous" won't be one of them.
Please ... let him "teach."