Now, a professor's personal beliefs should not be a criteria for employment, just like political, religious or spiritual beliefs be the basis for anybody's employment, within reason. I'm not sure if I'd hire a pacifist as a sniper, no matter how good of a shot that pacifist is, but that's just an obvious example. Nor would a Catholic make a good Rabbi.
What sets apart the UW employee apart is that he intends to teach the 9/11 attack as part of his class - not the known facts, but that the Government essentially sponsored the attacks. The World Trade Center was brought down by controlled demolition, no plane actually hit the Pentagon - basically, everything we saw on that horrible Tuesday, the images that are etched into our collective subconscious - are all lies to further fuel the winds of war.
It's a rather stretched conspiracy theory as such things go. There's no Zapruder film that clearly shows a second bullet, or a ridiculous Warren Commission report on the "Magic Bullet Theory." There's no missing aircraft carriers in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, nor is there a headline in New Mexico that a UFO crashed into the desert, only to be denied vehemently the next day. In this case, we have several million eyewitnesses who watched planes, either in person or on CNN, collide into the World Trade Center. There are fewer eyewitnesses regarding the Pentagon collision, probably because the proximity of Ronald Reagan/National Airport causes a certain tune-out factor when a low-flying plane is in the area. Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, has a couple of varying eyewitness reports, lending some credibility to those who refuse the accepted notion that the plane was retaken by the passengers.
What the conspiracy folks do have is some shaky ideas of physics, poorly designed websites, and footage of the Towers that show small explosions out the sides of the building as it came down. Just search YouTube.com for World Trade Center collapse, and you'll see what they consider "compelling evidence" that it was a controlled demolition.
Funny - what I saw was a skyscraper that just had a big-ass aircraft plow into it at a few hundred miles per hour, full of jet fuel, making a really big fire. I'm going to guess that not too many people have ever seen a big-ass aircraft plow into a skyscraper like that before, and have studied the intricate physics involved when structural engineering meets ungodly heat and weakened structural integrity.
Popular Mechanics devoted an article on debunking the 9/11 conspiracy theories, showing where each of the popular ideas from various websites was factually wrong, if not completely fabricated. But, for those who either hate the United States, the Administration, the Press, the Bush family, or simply want to believe in a conspiracy, no amount of proof will dissuade them of that.
What bothers most people is that Barrett is allowed to teach this class, supposed to be on the fundamentals of Islam, and to lecture his belief as fact. His employment by the University has been a popular debate on the comment boards of UW Law Professor Ann Althouse's blog. I have no problem with him teaching the class per se - he converted to Islam, has a doctorate, and was the teaching assistant for the class in the past - he's qualified to teach.
What bothers me is that his belief is based, according to this article, on a preset anti-Establishment mindset, a preset slant towards conspiracy theories, and partially on a REALLY bad piece of faulty logic by his mentor, David Ray Griffin. From the article:
During the speech, Griffin made the case that it was implausible the Pentagon could be hit by an airplane, since it is "surely the best defended building on the planet." The U.S. military has the best radar systems in the world and "does not miss anything occurring in North American airspace," he added.
This is what happens when people ASSume. Surely the building is well-defended - but by traditional attacks. What's traditional about using an airliner as a missile?
Moreover, have any of these people ever really BEEN to the Pentagon, or even driven NEAR it? I drive past it all the time, with millions of dollars spent to rework the surrounding highways and parking lots to make it more secure. I drove past it all the time, pre-9/11, as my family was spread between Maryland and Northern Virginia. The building is surrounded by the major commuting thoroughfares of Interstate 395, US Route 1, Virginia Route 27, Columbia Pike, and various other support roads. Just a few thousand feet to the south is Pentagon City and Crystal City, all part of the city of Arlington. Just across the Potomac is Washington, and just a mile north is Rosslyn. There are millions of people who live and work within a couple miles of the Pentagon. There's a huge bus stop and a subway stop at the Pentagon's sprawling complex.
Now, where are all the ASSumed anti-aircraft batteries? On top of Macy's at the Mall? Room 1000 at the Sheraton? The rotating restaurant at the Doubletree? "Excuse me, Chili's - no more fajitas for you, we need to put in a Patriot missile system." To my knowledge, Hertz Rent-a-Car doesn't rent Apache helicopters with Sidewinders...and if they do, I know what *I'm* renting the next time I go to Los Angeles!
I would invite Mr. Barrett and Mr. Griffin to look at a map of the DC Metropolitan Area, and look at the 3 Major International Airports all within 10 minutes of flying time to the Pentagon, including one that is less than 30 seconds flying time from the building (Ronald Reagan/National Airport). Then, I'd like him to explain the logic of shooting down a commercial airliner with missiles over one of the most densely populated regions of the country. Northern Virginia is not exactly rural Wisconsin - it's more like Southern California.
Now, explain to the residents of Arlington and Fairfax Counties why their homes, lives and property were destroyed because the military shot down a commercial airliner full of innocent civilians, causing the wreckage to rain down on their pleasant suburban communities. If crashing jetliners can cause massive damage to the biggest office buildings in the US, then imagine what it could do to an unsuspecting cul-de-sac, with burning hot wreckage and boiling jet fuel.
I am so disgusted with these low-rent Fox Mulders convinced the Government is involved with every evil in the world, or that is has every possible solution. It's awfully easy to Monday morning quarterback five years after the fact, that there should have been anti-aircraft measures in place. These people who believe "The X-Files" was a documentary have forgotten that the US was not at war on September 10th. No Homeland Security, no troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, no removing shoes to enter a plane. There was no reason to line DC with anti-aircraft batteries...and considering the nearest installations with anything like that are at least 30 minutes from the Pentagon, perhaps that explains why the building was hit. It's mostly an office building, not a top-secret base tucked away in the Nevada mountains, that same base where no doubt Barrett and his ilk believe where the Roswell UFO is stored and the moon landing was faked.
I'll try to find something a little less meaty to blog about later.