[M]y question in response is how did you learn about these theories?... As abhorrent as these propositions are, how do any of us find out about them and understand their rationale?Well, he came at that obliquely, but I guess that means he would allow a white supremacist to teach his theory if he'd managed to get himself hired here. But he won't say it head on, and he won't even look straight at the Barrett problem, which is not that the students are learning that many Muslims believe this theory, but that they are learning it from someone who actually believes it's true, which ruins any useful potential for understanding Muslim culture. The interesting issue here is why they believe something so plainly false. How can someone who believes it take students down that path? That issue has some relevance to a course on Muslim culture. The evidence supporting the theory is something that might be profitably examined in an engineering class, using the tools of that discipline. But it's hopelessly off topic in a humanities course.
Perhaps we read about them in the newspaper or in magazines; perhaps we hear about them in discussions with friends; or perhaps they were part of the curriculum of a class we took at the university. We are told that a small number of academics in this country, and a much larger number of Muslims in other parts of the world, believe that the U.S. government was implicated in the disasters of 9/11.
Why shouldn't students at the University of Wisconsin learn that, with whatever evidentiary bases exist for that assertion, as they also study the conclusions reached by the 9/11 Commission to which most of us subscribe? Why shouldn't Kevin Barrett have to answer his students' questions about how such a horrendous and far-reaching disaster could be orchestrated by our government without even one person "blowing the whistle" and bringing the conspiracy to an end?
Bartell does end with this:
Mr. Barrett may not be the person I would hire to teach this course on Islamic culture and religion. But neither would I fire him or prevent him from teaching solely on the basis of his controversial, even bizarre, views. I think Provost Farrell made the right call.May not be? Controversial, even bizarre? Why pull those punches? Barrett is absolutely not the right person to teach this, and his views are idiotic, even evil.
Tell it straight, and then it will mean something when you back Farrell. I do.