UW backs instructor from censure for 9-11 views

A part-time University of Wisconsin instructor who believes U.S. government officials orchestrated the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks will be allowed to teach a course on Islam, the school announced Monday.

UW-Madison Provost Patrick Farrell said Kevin Barrett can present his view as one of many perspectives on the event when he teaches the introductory course as scheduled this fall.

Some state politicians had called for the university to fire Barrett after he spoke about his theories on a radio talk show last month.

Farrell rejected those calls, saying “We cannot allow political pressure from critics of unpopular ideas to inhibit the free exchange of ideas.”

“There is no question that Mr. Barrett holds personal opinions that many people find unconventional,” Farrell said in a statement. “These views are expected to take a small, but significant, role in the class. To the extent that his views are discussed, Mr. Barrett has assured me that students will be free _ and encouraged _ to challenge his viewpoint.”

Farrell launched a review after Barrett spoke on the talk show about his views that the terrorist attacks were the result of a government conspiracy designed to spark war in the Middle East. Barrett is active in a group of scholars who believe, among other things, the twin towers were blown up by U.S. government operatives.

His remarks prompted calls from state Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, and Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green for his immediate dismissal. Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, joined the critics in questioning whether Barrett was competent to teach.

Also see:
Lecturer denounces critics of his 9-11 teachings