Barrett Textbook Compares Bush to Hitler, Bashes Israel
10/11/2006 - CORRECTION: The quote originally attributed to Dr. Frankiel is in fact from Professor Gottlieb's essay. I have modified the text accordingly. My apologies to Gottlieb and Frankiel. - r.
With spin worthy of FOX News, Madison's WKOW has cherry picked some quotes from "9/11+and+American+Empire+Vol.+II" to make it seem like the book is some sort of anti-Israel screed. The book is far from that, and features a Jewish co-editor, Sandra Lubarsky, a writer who applies Process+Thought to Jewish Theology in some of her writing. (Not unlike David Ray Griffin and John Cobb who apply Process Thought to Christianity.)
Also featured in Vol. II are Jewish writers Professor+Marc+H.+Ellis, Dr.+Tamar+Frankiel, Professor Roger S. Gottlieb and rabbi Michael Lerner. All of whom make very thoughtful contributions to the book.
Barrett's contribution is neither anti-semitic or hateful. Controversial? Obviously. However, by posting pieces like this (with no byline, BTW) WKOW only draws more attention to Barrett's work, and by lopsidedly presenting specific snippets that will provoke mini-scandals here and there, WKOW hovers on the edge of flat out Yellow journalism that offers no real balance.
(more after the jump..)
For instance, WKOW could have posted snippets like this bit by Professor Ellis to balance things out some;
"At the same time an unexpected, and as yet unacknowledged, force has become part of the Jewish future. Within the Holocaust and Israel, the Palestinian people loom large, their presence as part of Jewish history assured. Seen for the most part as foreign and threatening, culturally and politically, by mainstream Jewish thought, that very definition fails to grasp the more subversive role that the Palestinians play. For Jews, Palestinians are the “other” that is within, challenging the very notions of Jewish identity found within the structures and institutions that interpret the Holocaust and Israel."
Is that Israel bashing too? How about this bit by Prof. Gottlieb;
"Any reader familiar with religious literature may at this point wonder: “There is nothing new here, and hasn’t 9-11 changed everything?” My answer, in two words, is simple: yes and no. On the one hand the existence of a world-wide terror network capable of such mad violence, and the U.S. government’s mobilization, deceptions, and threats to our civic liberties, constitute a new political terrain which require deep awareness of historically unprecedented threats, powers, and possibilities.
At the same time, however, this I don’t think we can really remember a time without moral struggle, resistance to evil, and the task of remaining faithful to a nearly impossible moral and spiritual vision. It is in that task that we find the basis of a meaningful, and even at times joyful life. And nothing that the terrorists of whatever religion or nation can do will ever take that away."
Is that US bashing? How about the contribution from co-editor Lubarsky;
"It is possible that we may learn, at some point, that there was Israeli involvement in 9/11 though it is much more likely that the principal actors were U.S. citizens motivated either by an arrogant notion of what is “best” for the U.S. or for themselves. Still, that possibility raises in me the terrible desire that it never be true, for I fear the consequences it might have on American attitudes toward Judaism and Israel. The fragile tolerance that holds between secularists and those who maintain religious commitments, the bewilderment regarding Judaism and Jews that even now characterizes relations of many non-Jews to Jews, and the complicated resentments harbored by some toward Jews and their Holocaust memories--resentments interlaced with guilt--make me fearful were Jewish or Israeli involvement in 9/11 to move from possibility to fact. As a Jew, I understand the terrible fears and desires that now inform the desire of many Muslims to distance their religion from terrorism and to wish that others were culpable."
Heresy! Professor Gotlieb again (this is way out of context, but hey, at least I'm letting you know);
"There is a strain of self-righteous violence which runs through Judaism from the earliest texts to the present day, a celebration of our physical and cultural triumph over those who threaten us or who simply stand in our way. From Moses’ instructions at the end of Deuteronomy to kill the Canaanites and destroy their holy places to the grisly depictions of Israelite triumph in Joshua to the West Bank settlers who (with tacit or overt support from “religious” authorities) burn down olive groves and terrorize Palestinians, this strain darkens the moral radiance of my tradition."
Rabbi Lerner (again, somewhat out of context);
"I would not be surprised to learn that some branch of our government conspired to either actively promote or passively allow the attack on 9/11. For those who watched the reactionary political uses made of this tragedy, it's easy to conjure up a variety of possible conspiratorial motives that would have led the president, the vice president, or some branch of the armed forces or CIA or FBI or other "security" forces to have passively or actively participated in a plot to recredit militarism and war.
I must note, I'm quoting from the same proof (presumably) that WKOW is quoting from, and it may be edited or revised slightly before you see the printed copy. The point is, you can selectively quote from the book to make the case that the Jewish authors are just as critical of the United States and Israel as Barrett. In a couple cases even more so. Yet WKOW chose to single out Barrett for Piñata practice... and that is weak "journalism".
The WKOW story;
Mon 10/09/2006 -
A textbook required of students in UW-Madison instructor Kevin Barrett's introductory class on Islam features Barrett's 9/11 conspiracy theory, comparisons of President Bush to Adolf Hitler, and harsh criticism of Israel.
A proof of the book, "9/11 and American Empire: Muslims, Jews, and Christians Speak Out," was obtained by 27 News.
The 325 page textbook draws on essays from fifteen authors, including Barrett. Barrett's contribution is entitled, "Interpreting the Unspeakable: The Myth of 9/11."
Barrett's writing makes a case for the mainstream account of what happened on 9/11 to be consistent with other myths throughout history.
On the events of 9/11:
* "The major television networks, largely owned by defense contractors that would be lapping up 9/11's trillion dollar windfall, made absolutely sure we couldn't forget it, by running the same footage over...and over...and over."
* "The obviously false 'let's roll' heroic mini-myth of Flight 93."
On the Bush administration's alleged orchestration of the destruction:
* "Like Bush and the neocons, Hitler and the Nazis inaugurated their new era by destroying an architectural monument and blaming its destruction on their designated enemies."
* "It was intended to set the American empire in stone for at least a hundred years, perhaps even to found a new, imperial 1000-year Reich like the ones the Nazis dreamed of."
On response to the Bush administration's alleged complicity:
* "We have erected a wall of repression around 9/11 because deep down inside, we experienced a powerful wave of forbidden pleasure at the destructive spectacle."
* "The architects of the 9/11 myth were trying to preserve the very empire they so efficiently destroyed. The US empire, and especially its Iraeli outpost, were doomed in the medium-term anyway, with or without 9/11."
* "The European Union was already bigger, both in population and GNP, than the United States, and Israel was losing its demographic race with the Palestinians it had always needed to expel as a precondition for an aparheid 'Jewish state.' "
"I'm going to reserve judgement on whether it's anti-Semitic," Madison Jewish Community Council Executive Director Steve Morrison told 27 News. "I find it clearly to be anti-Israel."
Morrison said while some other academics have also similarly characterized Israel's intentions, non-Jews can vote, hold office, and have unrestricted job mobility in Israel, unlike non-white residents of the former apartheid system in South Africa.
In a gubernatorial debate Oct. 6, both Governor Jim Doyle and Republican challenger Congressman Mark Green stated UW-Madison officials should have fired Barrett for his lack of scholarship. Morrison defended Barrett's position as an instructor, but said his textbook contributions on Israel were red flags.
"When loaded phrases are used, when buzz words of those engaged in hate mongering are used, that's something I'd like to look at much more seriously."
"9/11 and American Empire" includes contributing essays from several Jewish authors.
While the book dismisses mainstream accounts of Muslim hijackers costing lives and causing damage by piloting airplanes into buildings, Barrett has said other, required class reading will represent mainstream views on 9/11's destruction.
The course syllabus indicates the book will be discussed by students next month.
Barrett's class is offered through the Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia. UW-Madison spokesperson Brian Matmiller told 27 News Department Chair Ellen Rafferty declined comment on "9/11 and American Empire" because she was unfamiliar with the book and was not an expert on 9/11 and its implications.
In response to criticism from Doyle, Green and several Republican lawmakers, UW-Madison Provost Patrick Farrell reviewed Barrett's syllabus and teaching plans before allowing Barrett to teach the course.
A spokesperson for the textbook's Massachusetts based publisher, Interlink, told 27 News additional editing could take place before copies become publicly available.