Middle East studies in the News
Lecturer Says Taxes Go to Kill U.S. Troops [on Kevin Barrett]
"Your tax dollars are paying for the killing of American soldiers in Iraq. The CIA is paying for resistance in Iraq."
So closed Kevin Barrett's fourth and final lecture on the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, delivered as part of his course on Islam at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Anticipation of this part of the course, and Thursday's class in particular, had been building for months.
Barrett has been at the center of a national controversy that also focused on tax dollars - specifically, whether they should be used to teach material considered outrageous, manipulative and inaccurate.
Gov. Jim Doyle and state legislators called for Barrett to be fired last summer for arguing that the Sept. 11 attacks were orchestrated by the U.S. government. University administrators defended Barrett's right to the classroom in the name of academic freedom. But they threatened him with dismissal if he did not keep his enthusiasm for his views in check in the classroom and did not stop seeking publicity outside the classroom.
The part-time teacher vowed to teach the official version of the attacks alongside the Sept. 11 theory to which he subscribes. He said he would neither tell his students what his view was nor penalize them for not buying the theory. And he emphasized that 9-11 was just a small part of the course that he didn't get to until a period late in the semester.
That period was last week and this week.
Andrea Bromley, a sophomore, came away saying Barrett had failed to be impartial.
"It's become much more opinionated now that we're doing 9-11," Bromley said, referring to the tone and progress of the course. "He's trying to explain both views, but he's biased. I don't feel like he's presented enough info on the other side."
Freshman Jesse Moya disagreed, saying Barrett had been "very objective."
Moya, who said his uncle died in the World Trade Center attacks, said he had entered the course believing the attacks were the work of Islamic terrorists. He now believes otherwise.
"It seems like a more logical explanation that it was the U.S. government," he said.
Barrett began Thursday's lecture by reviewing the work of several Muslim writers who believe the Sept. 11 attacks were the work of terrorists. One argues that the attacks reveal broader clashes within Islam; another believes they indicate a blossoming clash between the Muslim world and the West. The writings were among works that had been assigned to Barrett's students to read.
Barrett then moved on to an essay by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, who argues that the Sept. 11 attackers were part of a broad network of terrorism sponsored by the United States and other Western intelligence agencies. Ahmed argues that the U.S. has used terrorism to destabilize other countries and gain control over their resources.
In his lecture, Barrett sprinkled in the phrase according to this analysis periodically at the end of his sentences. But he stated much of Ahmed's argument as fact and offered up his own views or observations to bolster the claims.
On the conventional idea that terrorists were motivated by their belief in Islam, Barrett said: "That's simply not true. That story gets blown out of the water."
On Ahmed's writings, he said at one point: "This is all standard narrative. What he's said so far, no one disputes."
Ahmed ends his essay by arguing that the U.S. is attempting "to exacerbate the deterioration of security by penetrating, manipulating, and arming the terrorist insurgency, thus legitimizing permanent Anglo-American military involvement in Iraq purportedly to promote security."
It was while discussing this argument that Barrett made his comment about American tax dollars being used to fund the killing of American soldiers.
Ahmed's essay is to be published in a book that was co-edited by Barrett. Barrett himself has an essay in it. He writes that the official version of 9-11 was a myth created by the U.S. government to help perpetuate war that would further its quest for world domination. The truth, he writes, was that "on 9/11, the World Trade Center collapsed, blown up by the globalists themselves." He likens President Bush to Adolf Hitler, arguing that both sold hatred to further their agendas.
Barrett is requiring his students to take two exams and review one of the assigned or recommended texts. He said exam questions about the other 9-11 essays were likely.
His faith in his ability to grade fairly is unwavering.
"I try to lean over backwards to be fair, to give students the benefit of the doubt," he said. "Students would probably do better trying to argue against me."Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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