My old friend, AFSCME union leader, Dode Lowe, used to have an appropriate saying for the occasional loose cannon among his members. When confronted with a questionable individual that the union was forced to defend, Dode used to say, "He may be a billy goat, but he is our billy goat."
Those of us who defended the University of Wisconsin from narrow minded assaults this past year, often had Kevin Barrett held up to us as an example of a misguided teacher who was a waste of taxpayers' money. This is the Barrett who doubts that the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center was the work of foreign terrorists, but offers suggestions that perhaps domestic operatives were responsible for the attack.
Barrett is now running for Congress, as a Libertarian in Wisconsin's Third Congressional District. As John Nichols notes in The Capital Times column on Friday:
...Barrett, a convert to Islam who has argued for a number of years that the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon "had nothing to do with Islam" and that "the war on terror is as phony as the latest Osama bin Laden tape."
...A Republican legislator, Whitewater state Rep. Steve Nass, condemned the university for a man critics describe as "a conspiracy nut."
...A 10-day review by UW Provost Patrick Farrell of Barrett's teaching record and his plans for the introductory class determined that Barrett would fairly represent a variety of viewpoints in his course -- and was thus fit to teach.
Those of us who believe that professors should be left alone to teach as long as they are open and fair, will continue to defend his right to espouse his bizarre world view.
On the other hand, now that Barrett has solidly aligned himself with the Libertarian Party, it gives me great comfort that everyone knows he is someone else's billy goat. It was last year that I repudiated Barrett and Ward Churchill as not being part of the political left.
The Libertarians and the conservatives can have him.