The University of Wisconsin would be wise to say "no thank you" to professor Kevin Barrett's desire to teach other classes at Madison.
Barrett, you will recall, holds the belief that the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S. were orchestrated by the Bush administration as an excuse to wage war against Muslims. And, he lectured on this theory in a class on Islam during the fall semester at UW-Madison.
Thankfully, Barrett's last lecture on this subject took place last week and the course is not offered in the spring semester. According to a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, students were split on whether Barrett was able to remain impartial and objective on the Sept. 11 discussion during class lectures.
This was one of the stipulations UW officials put on their decision to allow Barrett to include the controversial — and to many ludicrous — theory in a course on Islam. UW Provost Patrick Farrell, who found Barrett fit to teach the class, also told the professor that he must present his views on Sept. 11 "in an objective and balanced time frame and context."
Outwardly, Barrett has been anything but impartial and objective about his theories. He's gone on national new shows and given interviews to several papers, including the New York Times, in which he's defended his theory.
While there are those who support Barrett's grand conspiracy theory, he is nothing more than an embarrassment to the University of Wisconsin.
We have supported the idea of academic freedom on college campuses, public and private. Including unpopular or alternative theories in classroom discussion is a way for teachers to challenge students to think critically and defend their own ideas and positions.
But in the case of Barrett's teaching, he appears to have rejected reality and known facts about Sept. 11 and instead has chosen to substitute his theory as fact.
Barrett, who has a doctorate in African languages and literature and a minor degree in folklore, says no one at the university involved with the hiring process has told him that his controversial teaching would be a block to getting another teaching job for the spring semester.
The hiring decision will be up to the individual departments, according to university spokesman Dennis Chaptman. If Barrett does apply for a spring teaching position, those doing the hiring should look closely at whether Barrett met the stipulation of fair and objective teaching.
We don't think he did and he shouldn't be given another job with the UW System. There are certainly other, more qualified professors out there to teach our students.