Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Professor Under Fire for Political Views

This story appeared on MSNBC this morning, and appears not unrelated to some of our recent conversations on this blog. Professor Kevin Barrett, a part-time instructor at UW-Madison has edited a book that includes an essay with his claim that the US government organized the 9/11 attacks in the same way that the Nazi's organized the burning of the Reichstag, for their own purposes, in 1933. Nothing particularly illegal about writing a book, but Barrett is requiring the students to purchase the book and planning to air his views in class.

Against much opposition, the UW-Madison provost has told Barrett he may still teach his course, but must limit focus on his ideas to one week of the class and must allow students to challenge them.
He later warned Barrett not to use his position at the University to seek publicity for his personal political views.

Question: Has the provost made the right decision? Should he have suggested/required a guest lecturer with opposite views to speak to the class? Comments welcome...


Blogger Dr. Joseph Ray Cathey said...


Personally, I find this professor's views repugnant. I have lost some very close personal friends in both fronts of this war - Afghanistan and Iraq. I personally believe that if UM-Madison were going to allow this professor the platform to openly express his political views then they should - in all fairness - allow a guest speaker from the opposing viewpoint. Likewise, I think that if he were really wanting the students to learn he would give them readings which would be both pro and con and maybe assign some type of assignment that would allow them to probe the depths of their reading. In short, I believe that this professor wants to Indoctrinate rather than Educate.

Wed Oct 11, 08:41:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger spankey said...

Dr. Cathey -

Kudos for your comment. You put to words (as a professor I'm guessing) in a way this student wanted to, but didn't have the words.

There is a group of people who setup a card table in Olde Towne Alexandria to argue the same opinion as Barrett, but most here dismiss them as "crazy, conspiracy theorists". Its interesting that such a minority opinion can be taught in a classroom at all. What's worse is the Provost assuming that a students' challenge would get a fair shake in this professor's classroom. I'd say someone with the same level of power as Barrett (i.e. a visiting professor or member of the schools administration) should be on hand to offer a differing opinion (which it seems to me is the majority opinion in this case).

What a story.

Wed Oct 11, 08:48:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

I tend to agree with both of you. I would press for airtime for a guest speaker with an opposing view. That would give the students in the class some intellectual ammunition so that some authentic and valuable back-and-forth could occur. ---S.

Wed Oct 11, 10:33:00 AM GMT-5  

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