Online Journal Covers Barrett’s 9/11 Free Speech Battle in Wisconsin
Churchill’s Ashes Still Hot;
Barrett Next to be Burned at Stake
– Freedom of speech in jeopardy as university instructor speaks up about 9/11
by Cathy Garger
Jul 7, 2006, 12:34
Despite the melodramatic title, this is a fine upbeat piece on Kevin Barrett’s 9/11 truth battle in Wisconsin with excellent action suggestions at the end. Kevin’s resolve, spirit, and increasing mastery of 9/11 soundbyte distillation are both inspiring and instructive for anyone speaking truth to power today.
This week brought disturbing news to the 9/11 Truth community as Dr. Kevin Barrett, co-founder of the Muslim Christian Jewish Alliance for 9/11 Truth (MUJCA) faces more than summertime heat as his livelihood stands in the balance with a possible loss of his fall teaching assignment at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Apparently, those in positions of power in the state of Wisconsin don’t care for Barrett’s political views. The instigator of Dr. Kevin Barrett’s inquisition is Rep. Steven Nass, a Republican State Legislator from Whitewater, Wisconsin, who has begun the process of skewering Dr. Barrett, a Muslim, apparently readying him for the stake (which, according to modern day acceptable methods of punishment, is actually more along the lines of taking a number in the Wisconsin State unemployment line). After remarks Barrett made on June 28 on Jessica McBride’s local WTMJ-AM (620) Wisconsin radio talk show, Rep. Nass expressed the desire to see Barrett barred from teaching an introductory course on Islam at the University of Wisconsin-Madison this fall.
It probably comes to no surprise to any American with even half a clue that a conservative talk show host married to Republican attorney general candidate Paul Bucher and a GOP state legislator (Rep. Steven Nass) would attack any university instructor who openly and unapologetically dares issue an intellectual challenge concerning the federal government’s version about the attacks of September 11 — a story which has, one could say, more holes than Wisconsin Swiss cheese.
According to remarks made by Rep. Nass in a June 29 statement, “The fact that Mr. Barrett uses his position at UW-Madison to add credibility to his outlandish claims is an unacceptable embarrassment to the people of Wisconsin and the UW System.”
Kevin Barrett is being skewered without much oil for lubrication in preparation for public burning at the proverbial stake simply for being a university educator who had the audacity to speak up and out in public about the government’s complicity in the crimes of September 11.
One might then not be too surprised to learn that last year Rep. Nass was linked to Ward Churchill from the University of Colorado-Boulder as well in an almost identical condemnation when he introduced a resolution to the Wisconsin Legislature condemning Churchill and the university’s decision to allow him to make a speech in March 2005. Rep Nass had similarly skewered Churchill, stating that “Professor Ward Churchill is an embarrassment to higher education, a purveyor of anti-American hate speech and a poor excuse for an official university speaker,” Nass, a UW-Whitewater graduate, said in a press release. “UW-Whitewater’s decision to allow him to speak brings shame to the citizens of Wisconsin and can’t be allowed to stand.”
Nass also showed his true colors last year when he appeared on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” and stated “It is not free speech, it’s hate speech, and that’s where the line has to be drawn,” Nass told host Bill O’Reilly. “The university has to withdraw its invitation for him to speak..” (Note: For the record, the UW did honor its speaking invitation to Churchill).
As is typical after state legislators chastise University officials, predictable statements were issued from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Provost Patrick Farrell, who stated on June 29 in a UW-Madison press release that officials in the College of Letters and Sciences and in Barrett’s department would immediately undertake a review of Barrett’s syllabus and meet with him to discuss his plans for the course and reading list for the course, as well as evaluations by past supervisor and student evaluations of his past teaching performance.”
Provost Farrell further stated, “Mr. Barrett’s statements regarding the events of Sept. 11 have raised some legitimate concerns about the content and quality of instruction in his planned fall course, ‘Islam: Religion and Culture,’ Farrell conceded that “Mr. Barrett is entitled to his own personal political views,” and added, “But we also have an obligation to ensure that his course content is academically appropriate, of high quality, and that his personal views are not imposed on his students.”
Since then, Kevin Barrett met on July 3 with the UW Provost and other officials and claims that the meeting went well.
Privately, in a phone conversation, Barrett’s mood was, amazingly, even more optimistic. He indicated that the University is merely interested in his course material on the topic of Islam with regard to the events of September 11, and they will be reviewing some of the selections Barrett will ask his students to read from a book he is co-writing and co-editing called 9/11 and American Empire: Christians, Jews and Muslims Speak Out .
According to Barrett, and as evidenced by numerous letters posted on various Internet group and blog sites, response has been outstanding as copies of letters sent to Provost Farrell and Rep. Ness in support of Barrett’s right to free speech continually flood his inbox. According to a press release, one such example of a passionate defense of Barrett’s case was penned by Ron Rattner, an attorney from San Francisco who wrote to Provost Farrell and stated his perspective on academic freedom, claiming that “When teachers are intimidated against seeking and speaking truth on a campus renowned for its liberal and progressive traditions, we are in trouble”.
In addition to the UW-Madison Provost and one Wisconsin GOP legislator, there’s also the not-so-little business of Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle. Upholding the 9/11 “official story line” is apparently important for Governors as well. Apparently, public officials enjoy getting involved with prep work for the sport of academic human barbecues.
Reminding us that there are ultra conservative-minded Democrats, too, Governor Doyle suggested that Barrett has no place in the classroom. “We all saw happened on September 11,” Doyle told reporters in Milwaukee. “To say what we saw wasn’t true just defies common sense. It isn’t a question so much of academic freedoms. It’s a question of someone who has this totally irrational idea is somebody who should be really teaching students at the University of Wisconsin.”
Due to both the timing of these events and the fact that Nass has twice spoken out against university instructors who go against the administration’s version of US “history,” it isn’t too far of a stretch to wonder if Churchill’s being shown the door — and now Barrett having the door at least propped open for him — isn’t more than a matter of mere coincidence alone. So when interviewing Dr. Kevin Barrett, I asked him if he noticed any similarities between what is happening to him and what happened to Ward Churchill?
“The situations are similar in one way: Right-wing politicians are trying to violate a teacher’s academic freedom as a political ploy,” Barrett replied. “They’re doing this by playing to the irrational fears inspired by the September 11th atrocities. As I write in my essay to be published in MUJCA, the official story, and the emotions associated with it, have become a sacred myth. Anybody who doesn’t kowtow to the myth is accused of heresy and dragged before the Inquisition.”
Dr. Barrett continued, “That said, I think there is a world of difference between Ward Churchill and me. While I appreciate Ward’s work on the Native American genocide, and agree that the world economic system is unjust, I am disgusted by his portrayal of murdered World Trade Center office workers as “little Eichmanns.” The fact is that hardly any wealthy, powerful people died in the World Trade Center. The victims were ordinary office workers who commuted over from New Jersey. I understand that he is a good teacher, and he obviously should not be fired for his opinions and statements made outside of class, however ill-considered.
“Another and more important difference between our two situations is that the bottom line of what I’m saying is based on verifiable fact, not opinion or emotion.
“While my statements strike right-wing radio hosts as even more shocking than Ward’s, they are based on an analysis of overwhelming, verifiable evidence proving that the 9/11 Commission Report is a tissue of lies and distortions, and that the most probable hypothesis about what happened on 9/11 is that it was an inside job. Ward’s statement was basically emotional; mine boils down to ‘the facts speak for themselves,’ and I hope and expect that my case will cause a great many people to take a hard, critical look at those facts. When they do, I believe they will come around to my side, whether they are Republicans or Democrats, Christian, Jewish or Muslim, radical or conservative. This is not an issue of right-versus-left but right-versus wrong.
“Another important difference is that Ward made his unfortunate remark when the emotional impact of 9/11 was still fresh in people’s psyches. Since then, things have changed. America is ripe for a re-appraisal of 9/11 and the so-called war on terror. 42 percent of Americans say the official story of 9/11 is a cover-up. The Cheney administration’s horrific violations of the Constitution have been revealed in the New York Times and elsewhere. The Iraq war is a total fiasco. In today’s political landscape, my message is falling on more and more receptive ears.”
Could this possibly be a modern day “witch hunt” to root out those in academia who are seen as posing a threat to the current practices — and future goals– of the Empire? According to Barrett, this is not the case. “I don’t think it’s that well coordinated. It seems to me that some right-wing Wisconsin Republicans were worried about Bush’s poll numbers going through the floor, and what that spelled for their own prospects, and they ran into my work on the internet and decided to `Ward Churchill’ me as a state-level political ploy.”
Referring to a recent radio talk show interview with political conservative Jessica McBride, Barrett added, Jessica `McBride of Frankenstein,’ Ann Coulter’s evil twin, figured she could make a splash and put her name on the media map, and she has succeeded. Steve Nass, `the man with one N too many,’ figured he could play to his base of right-wing yahoos and get his name in the paper, and he has succeeded. Of course , part of the motivation for this sort of thing is to try to scare the academic community and make political hay while doing so.”
On the subject of continued employment, Barrett offered, “Whether they will succeed in getting me fired from the University of Wisconsin is another question. I really don’t see how they can. I’m a good teacher, I try to be fair and balanced in the classroom and welcome students’ ideas no matter what perspective they have, and my class is going to be a first-rate Introduction to Islam course. ”
What were Barrett’s thoughts, I questioned, on the fairness of Provost Farrell? “He seems like a decent guy, and we have a culture of academic freedom here at the University of Wisconsin. The University’s motto is `The truth will set you free,’ and we always cite that line about `fearless sifting and winnowing’ in order to get at the truth. I not only expect to continue teaching here, but I think that hundreds, perhaps thousands of my fellow academics here will use this occasion to do some sifting and winnowing of their own, and start coming around to the 9/11 truth perspective, if they haven’t already.” (The University of Wisconsin system serves 160,000 students and employs more than 32,000 faculty and staff).
Despite Barrett’s still-upbeat attitude? Even this overwhelmingly positive personal coach could not muster quite the same bright and enthusiastic outlook. With Ward Churchill given his walking papers and now Barrett’s Muslim rear end placed on the firing line all within the same week.? I’m sorry, but certainly I can’t be the only one who notices some kind of funky pattern going down here. I probed the matter further, asking Dr. Barrett if it’s possible that both he and Ward Churchill have been purposely set up as examples for academia as a stern warning to other educators not to rock the boat with regard to speaking out openly against the official position held by those in positions of political power?
“They have no legal grounds to fire me,” Dr. Barrett explained, “and the blathering of extremists like Nass and McBride doesn’t carry a whole lot of weight with people who are trained in critical thinking–and most university decision-makers are competent critical thinkers. Whether they will succeed in getting me fired from the University of Wisconsin is another question. I really don’t see how they can. I’m a good teacher, I try to be fair and balanced in the classroom and welcome students’ ideas no matter what perspective they have, and my class is going to be a first-rate Introduction to Islam course.”
Quite frankly, one can not help but be reminded of tenured Ward Churchill’s recent beheading. What happened to Churchill recently at the University of Colorado does not fare well for non-tenured Kevin Barrett`s case. Broaching this issue rather delicately, I asked Barrett if he believes his Constitutional right of Freedom of Speech could be in any danger of being violated, should the University of Wisconsin-Madison decide to terminate his employment there? Barrett’s response was an affirmative “Yes. If the University were to try to terminate my employment on the grounds that my opinions are outrageous (at least to 58 percent of Americans) it would be an open-and-shut case, a clear First Amendment violation, and a preposterous and transparent infringement of academic freedom.”
Not surprisingly, Churchill and Barrett are not the only academic educators being held up for public display for daring to air their mind openly. Recently Dr. James Fetzer, co-founder of Scholars for 9/11 Truth , was reportedly called one of the “nutty professors” and his position labeled “loony tunes stuff.” by ultra-conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham. Even more disturbing is that on her website, Ingraham has posted her June 30 audio interview with Dr. Fetzer (calling it “Another group with a conspiracy theory about 9/11) and prematurely stops the audio clip immediately after Ingraham calls Fetzer’s position “looney tunes stuff.”
Dr. Fetzer address this fact in a July 2 press release on the Scholars website, stating, “Then, after I made some telling points at the end of the program, they edited their archived copy and cut it off after a long harangue attacking me. That is intellectually dishonest.”
Another recent onslaught of right-wing attacks on university instructors includes the time Dr. Fetzer was being interviewed by Ollie North on Hannity and Colmes (FOX). ” I made points about controlled demolition, the “stand down” order, and the FBI’s position,” Fetzer said, “but they were more interested in whether I was discussing these things with my students than whether they were true.”
According to a press release, Ron Rattner, an attorney from San Francisco ,wrote to Provost Farrell, stating his perspective on academic freedom that “When teachers are intimidated against seeking and speaking truth on a campus renowned for its liberal and progressive traditions, we are in trouble”.
With so many chomping at the bit for academics to stick to what is preached from the administration’s pulpit, I wondered if Barrett was concerned that he would be marginalized as part of the so-called “radical left? To this, Dr. response was an unequivocal, “Absolutely not. It is [his political position] if anything, a conservative one, and it is no accident that many of the most prominent people who have spoken out on 9/11 are moderate to conservative. Steven Jones, Morgan Reynolds, Paul Craig Roberts and a whole bunch of ex-military officers are among the strong conservative voices in the 9/11 truth movement.”
Barrett continued, “Conservatism is supposed to be about conserving what is good. It’s about conserving the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment, individual freedom and responsibility, family values, and so on. True conservatives hate big government, hate huge military budgets and standing armies, hate thought police running around prying into our private affairs and telling us what to believe. They’re against foreign interventions, and especially aggressive wars and `nation building’ through mass murder. They want to preserve the values of our Founding Fathers against the onslaught of the so-called neo-conservatives. They see that 9/11 was a convenient excuse to put big government on steroids and take a blowtorch to the Constitution.”
Barrett added, ” Liberals are often hypnotized by their illusion of the benevolent state, which is why so many liberal opponents of this administration have been so slow to come around on 9/11 truth. Still, most of the people here in Madison who are defending my free speech consider themselves more liberal than conservative. That’s fine. I hope they will use their liberal values of free and independent inquiry, tolerance of dissent, and so on, and take this opportunity to actually learn something about the revisionist case on 9/11.”
So how does someone with a conservative, religious world view come to the point of believing that his government was actually involved in a brutal attack against its own citizens? I asked Dr. Barrett what made him initially suspect that the US government was not being straight with the American public about 9/11? Said Barrett, “Their incompetence at preventing this ludicrously improbable kind of attack –w hich it turned out they were in fact over-prepared for — was bizarre. The `hijackings’ story seemed pretty dubious from the get-go. Could anyone really find 19 guys brilliant enough to pull this off, yet suicidally, homicidally irreligious, and stupid enough not to realize that it would be strategically counterproductive to their project of forcing a rollback of empire and helping the Palestinians? And the fact that the government was supposedly incompetent enough to let it happen, but competent enough to have the 19 names in a matter of hours, struck me as odd.”
Continued Dr. Barrett, “The way Bush-Cheney stonewalled and refused to allow any investigation, in the name of `national security,’ was a huge red flag. Having anthrax show up at the offices of the two Congressmen who were blocking the pre-9/11-written Patriot Act was one heck of a coincidence. I kept seeing more and more anomalies as time went by. More and more `suicide hijackers’ turned up alive; the timelines didn’t make any sense; the guy who supposedly did a stunt maneuver to hit the empty, reinforced wing of the Pentagon couldn’t fly a Cessna, and so on. I went from `this is interesting, but how will we ever know’ to `wow! there’s a strong case for complicity’ after hearing that David Griffin was writing The New Pearl Harbor, and spending a few weeks doing research. That was in late 2003.”
I next asked Dr. Barrett if he could tell Americans only one thing, what would he want them to know about September 11 that they might not already know? Barrett shared, “The problem isn’t just one thing, it’s almost every aspect of the official story. If I had to pick one thing . . . a recent poll showed that a strong majority of Americans who had heard of the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7, a 47-story skyscraper that collapsed around 5 p.m. on 9/11 for no apparent reason, yet which is not even mentioned in the official report, believed that the official story of 9/11 is a cover-up. That means that when 100 percent of the American people know about Building 7, and over-insured owner Larry Silverstein’s statement that he `pulled it’ and watched it come down,’ a strong majority will demand a new investigation. We’re already at 42 percent, so it won’t take that long. So I would say focus on Building 7 to start with. Show people the collapse. Show them Silverstein making his inadvertent confession. Show them that the 9/11 Commission Report doesn’t even mention any of this — not even a footnote! If that doesn’t get them scratching their heads, I don’t know what will.”
When one listens to Kevin Barrett it is amazing to note the lack of concern in his voice — despite the gravity of the subject matter of September 11 – and his undeniably dark days in upcoming university purgatory. One is almost tempted to believe that we are on some kind of magical adventure ride with the instructor who is clearly now skating on precariously thin academic ice. What gives with the light-hearted attitude? “Free speech is fun,” explained Barrett. ” Fear is no fun. Your quality of life depends on overcoming fear, not on buying consumer products and climbing the social ladder.
Let’s break through the fear barrier, pick up 9/11 truth and run with it. Never before has there been this kind of opportunity for ordinary brave, principled people to positively influence the future of this planet, just by standing up and telling the truth in public. Let’s save the world, and have a great time while we do it! See you all at the victory party.”
Wow. It was clearly obvious that Kevin Barrett had no fear whatsoever for his future and as he apparently sees it, being afraid would tantamount to allowing the other guys to win. And admittedly, while Barrett’s unruffled, confident, upbeat attitude is certainly going to be beneficial in helping him weather the rocky days at UW ahead, by virtue of Ward Churchill’s public flogging and crucifixion? One suspects that Barrett should be planning on revising his resume, as they say, “just in case.”
It is clearly obvious to all but perhaps Kevin Barrett himself that all bets are on that he is being skewered in preparation for public burning at the proverbial stake simply for being a university educator who has the audacity to speak up and out in public about the government’s complicity in the crimes of September 11.
Clearly Dr. Barrett fails to see that questioning the federally sacred story about who was really behind the attacks that day is a definite career-shattering “no-no.”
Those who are outraged by this clear cut violation of free speech and academic freedom can help support Dr. Kevin Barrett and solidify the case against his termination from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in the following ways. The matter is due to be decided within ten (10) working days of June 28, so time is clearly of the essence.
(1) Respectful letters need to be sent to UW-Madison Provost Patrick Farrell, asking him to use the same standards for Dr. Kevin Barrett and this issue, as for other instructors and other issues. Specifically, if Dr. Barrett is to fairly present the different interpretations of 9/11, not just his interpretation, if he brings up the issue, so do the other instructors who believe in the official version. Regarding the tone of these letters? So far Mr. Farrell has behaved reasonably, and it is believed that he will continue to listen to reason, and should be treated as the reasonable person he has shown to be in the past.
(2) Letters to Governor Jim Doyle are needed due to the fact that Barrett’s comments were called “absurd” and that his ideas are “irrational” by the governor. One possible talking point is that it is absurd that a governor would not have learned by now that Americans have not been told the whole truth about the events of 9/11.
3) Letters to Rep. Steven Nass are also needed, asking the state legislator to refrain from stifling free speech in Wisconsin universities. Rep. Nass needs to be reminded that freedom of speech is named by the first Amendment in the Bill of Rights. Rep. Nass quite obviously needs to be reminded why his comments about Dr. Kevin Barrett are unfounded, and that the legislator needs to learn a great deal more about what happened on September 11.
Kevin Barrett presents a confident image in his hope not to be “Ward Churchilled” and not made out to be a victim and ousted out of his instructor position at University of Wisconsin. As Barrett puts it, “we have a culture of academic freedom here at the University of Wisconsin. The university’s motto is `The truth will set you free,’ and we always cite that line about “fearless sifting and winnowing” in order to get at the truth. I not only expect to continue teaching here, but I think that hundreds, perhaps thousands of my fellow academics here will use this occasion to do some sifting and winnowing of their own, and start coming around to the 9/11 truth perspective, if they haven’t already.”
For all current and future university students and faculty alike, only time will tell if University of Wisconsin – Madison officials will do the right thing by freedom of speech and academic freedom. And for the sake of the candidly courageous and forthright Dr. Kevin Barrett and his continued career in academia? Let’s just hope his unwavering optimism and integrity sees him through what appears to be dangerously rocky times ahead.
To keep updated about Dr. Kevin Barrett’s continuing saga on Free Speech in academia with regard to his views on 9/11, visit www.mujca.com.
Cathy Garger is a freelance writer, antiwar activist, and a certified personal coach. An Associate Member of Scholars for 9/11 Truth and member of Veterans for 9/11 Truth, Cathy has a B.S. in Psychology and can most often be found educating people about the synthetic “War On Terror” and the real reasons her government engages in wars. Living in the shadow of the national District of Crime, Cathy is constantly nauseated by the stench emanating from the nation’s capital during the Washington, DC, federal work week.
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