Wednesday, July 12, 2006
How Democracy Works
An instructor at the University of Wisconsin who has said he believes US officials orchestrated the September 11, 2001 attacks, will be allowed to teach a course on Islam. Some state politicians had called for the University of Wisconsin-Madison to fire Kevin Barrett, a part-time instructor, after he spoke about his theories on a radio talk show last month. The university provost, Patrick Farrell, said in a statement late on Monday: "We cannot allow political pressure from critics of unpopular ideas to inhibit the free exchange of ideas."And politician Steve Nass gets it wrong:
Politicians who had called for Barrett's dismissal criticised the decision.... Steve Nass, a state representative, said he would push next year for cuts to the university's budget.If you guessed Mr. Nass is a Republican, you got it right.
Education is supposed to be the doorway to enlightenment... but if you aren't taught just the facts, or both sides of an opinion argument, how can you decide for yourself?
Kinda sounds like election coverage too...
This is a class on Islam. I am sure he will be teaching religion, and not asymmetric warfare or political theory. If so much as 1% of class time gets spent on anything besides religion, it's poor teaching, no matter who it is or what it's about.
The question is whether a person who thinks that Bushco might have plotted the attack from which it has gained so much power is to be permitted to teach a class on religion.
In places like Stalinist Russia, "deviationist thought" was a reasom to deny a person employment. In the United States of America, it isn't.
People who have a problem with that need to grow up.
He managed to piss-off most of us. Some of us banded together, determined to find facts and arguments to counter his line of reasoning. He would listen and gave (to us) seemingly reasonable rebuttals. We worked harder, hashing things out in the dorm or over beer. We got better.
The last day, the professor emphasized that we were there not to learn beliefs, but to learn how to navigate our way through the beliefs and viewpoints already out there, taking those we feel comfortable with, modifying those we could feel comfortable with and ignoring, for the moment, those we could not.
The end of the class was not the end of friendships, amongst the students as well as the instructor.
The biggest lesson I got from that class was that I could be friends with someone with whom I disagreed. Also, I got pretty damn good about that particular slice of history.
Yes, the best part of real intellectual debate is that it forces one to challenge one's assumptions. I, for one, would looooove to refute the professor who thinks the Bushies planned 9/11. And I bet I could get an A doing it.
It probably wouldn't come up in a class on Islam, though.
More blogs about politics.