MADISON, Wis. – More than 60 state lawmakers are urging the University of Wisconsin-Madison to fire an instructor who has argued that the U.S. government orchestrated the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
A letter sent Thursday and signed by 52 Assembly representatives and nine state senators condemns a decision to let Kevin Barrett teach an introductory class on Islam this fall.
UW-Madison Provost Pat Farrell launched a review after Barrett spoke last month on a talk show about his views that the terrorist attacks were the result of a government conspiracy to spark war in the Middle East. After the review, Farrell said Barrett was a qualified instructor who can present his views as one perspective on the attacks.
"I still have every expectation this will be a very positive educational experience for our students," Farrell said Thursday. "Some are upset about Mr. Barrett's viewpoints on 9/11 and don't want to pay much attention to what makes for a quality educational experience."
Republican Rep. Steve Nass said the lawmakers' letter, which called Barrett's views "academically dishonest," sends a strong message to top UW leaders.
"When 61 legislators condemn a decision by UW-Madison and demand the dismissal of Kevin Barrett, the leadership of the UW System operates at its own peril if it continues to ignore views of the taxpayers," Nass said in a statement.
Barrett has said Nass was "only interested in name-calling and witch hunting."
The state Assembly last week refused to take up a proposed resolution supported by Nass calling on university to fire Barrett, who will get $8,247 as a part-time instructor this fall.
In Colorado, another professor has been under fire for an essay likening white-collar victims of the Sept. 11 attacks to Nazi official Adolf Eichmann, a key planner of the Holocaust.
University of Colorado officials concluded that ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill could not be fired over the essay because of free speech protections, but they launched an investigation into allegations of academic misconduct. A faculty committee concluded he committed research misconduct and university officials said last month that he should be fire. Churchill has appealed to keep his job.