The truth is out there; let students find it

Eugene Kane
Posted: July 10, 2006

What I remember most from my time in New York City just days after the Sept. 11 attack in 2001 were the faces of the missing.

Block after block, family and friends of the thousands of people missing after the World Trade Center attack posted pictures of their loved ones on telephone poles, bus stops and storefronts.

It was the most massive outpouring of love and grief I had ever seen.

I was there along with other Journal Sentinel reporters to cover the aftermath of that deadly day. There were plenty of journalists on the ground, but most reporters were kept away from the attack scenes, including ground zero in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a field in Pennsylvania.

The truth was nobody knew much more about the attacks than what the government told us.

The so-called 9-11 "truth movement" on the Internet has reached a crescendo over the years, sparking some to ask serious questions about what actually happened on that infamous date. A small but determined band of academics has presented an incredible tale of a sinister plan by the U.S. government to divide people along religious lines in order to capture the oil fields of a sovereign country.

This is real "JFK" conspiracy stuff, but you probably couldn't get Oliver Stone to touch this one.

Kevin Barrett is this year's Ward Churchill. Barrett is the maverick University of Wisconsin-Madison lecturer setting a torch to the rock-solid beliefs of most Americans that our government may be incompetent at times but would never harm us on purpose.

Churchill is the Colorado professor who made headlines last year during a visit to UW-Whitewater defending his writings that likened 9-11 victims to Nazi leaders.

Barrett takes his right to academic freedom even further; he thinks the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were part of an inside job.

He was in town Sunday - no, I had no desire to attend - and managed to draw attention from politicians running for office in November.

Barrett's celebrity prompted Gov. Jim Doyle and his challenger, U.S. Rep. Mark Green, to get involved in a matter that should be settled in academia.

Doyle questioned whether Barrett had the "capacity to teach students in this state." Mark Graul, a spokesman for Green, told reporters Barrett's teaching were "garbage" and had no merit.

"All you had to have was a TV to know what happened on 9-11," said Graul.

Well, actually, most of us didn't see everything that happened during 9-11. That's kind of the point.

That nagging reality is why when you type "9-11" and "myths" into a search engine, you will get enough information to spend the next year getting the willies.

There's so much information about alleged myths about 9-11 out there that it's ridiculous not to expect today's college students to investigate some of this stuff on their own.

As a part-time lecturer at UW-Milwaukee, I support the right of any teacher to conduct his class as he feels fit, within university standards.

We survived visits by the fiery Churchill, who by the way is currently appealing a decision by his school to fire him. The UW System can certainly survive the teachings of Barrett. With all this publicity, his students will find themselves in a great position to make up their own minds.

That is what education is supposed to be about, right?

Contact Eugene Kane at (414) 223-5521 or e-mail He also writes a regularly updated blog at with more commentary and links of interest.