Sunday, April 26, 2015

#1351: Kevin Barrett

Kevin James Barrett is a former university lecturer and conspiracy theorist. He achieved some media attention for including a section on conspiracy theories in his 2006 introductory class “Islam: Religion and Culture” at UW-Madison. The case attracted some controversy in particular since Barrett had already made a name for himself as an … enthusiastic proponent of the claim that 9/11 was an inside job in e-mails to a variety of politicians and critics. His subsequent applications for courses to teach at Madison were unsuccessful, and Barrett concluded that he had been discriminated against for his political beliefs.

He first drew attention to himself through op-eds in the Madison Capital Times, in which he alleged that Muslims had nothing to do with the attacks: “As a Ph.D. Islamologist and Arabist I really hate to say this, but I'll say it anyway: 9/11 had nothing to do with Islam. The war on terror is as phony as the latest Osama bin Laden tape” (original article here). He also claimed that the 2005 London bombings and the 2004 Madrid bombing appear to have been committed by U.S. or Western military intelligence and not Islamic terrorists.

Barrett currently operates Truth Jihad, a website and Internet radio show, and is the founder of Muslims for 9/11 Truth, which consists primarily of a blog that attempts to refute the idea that any Muslims were behind the 9/11 attacks and slightly threatening comments about those who disagree with him, as well as a book with the somewhat self-aggrandizing title Truth Jihad: My Epic Struggle against the 9/11 Big Lie. “Slightly threatening comments” includes his claims, first, that Fox News employees should be hung, then that the producers of United 93 should be tried for inciting war crimes, and finally apparently that just about every journalist in the world should be executed for disagreeing with him.

In an interview with Iran’s Press TV (an Iranian station the purpose of which is to broadcast anti-semitism to the English-speaking world) in 2014 Barrett also suggested that Israel may have been behind the much-discussed disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, explaining that “Christopher Bollyn just found that there is an identical twin of this plane. It has been sitting in a hangar in Tel Aviv, Israel, for the past couple of months […] Speculation is that there was some sort of false-flag plan afoot, perhaps another planes-into-buildings deception like 9/11. We have so many parallels between this event and 9/11.” In the interview he also suggested that British banker Jacob Rothschild was behind the plane’s disappearance.

And yes, the Anti-Defamation League specifically cites Barrett as one of the leading promoters of anti-Semitic 9/11 conspiracy theories.

His attempt to run for Congress in 2008 got him 2.3% of the vote in the general elections (but 59% in the libertarian primaries), and did at least receive the endorsement of 9/11 activists like Robert M. Bowman, Carol Brouillet, David Ray Griffin, and Kevin Ryan. He has later suggested taking up arms against the US government.

Diagnosis: It’s an interesting case, really. Barrett’s commitment to conspiracy theories and his persecution complex seem to feed a sense of grandeur, which again feeds into his conspiracy theories and persecution complex. Critical thinking does not enter into the process at any stage, of course. Sometimes it also looks as if he actually thinks anyone is taking him seriously.

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