N.C. Wesleyan Professor's Web Site, Course Draw Criticism · 24 April 2005

By Emery P. Dalesio - Associated Press
Filed under: North Carolina

By Emery P. Dalesio--Associated Press--04/25/05

The classroom where North Carolina Wesleyan College's only political science professor is teaching a course titled "9-11; The Road to Tyranny" has become the latest battlefront in the ongoing campus culture war.

On Tuesday, the six students enrolled in the elective course taught by Jane T. Christensen were to attend the course's final session: "Police State USA (Where Do We Go From Here?)"

Christensen's course has conservatives raging against campuses loaded with unaccountable liberals. The president of N.C. Wesleyan, a school of 1,800 students 50 miles east of Raleigh in Rocky Mount, is defending her right to academic freedom.

"Slander and anti-Semitism are permitted by a bigot posing as a scholar," Mike Adams, a criminal justice professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, wrote in an online critique on Frontpagemag.com.

Adams is a frequent critic of academic liberalism; Frontpagemag.com is a Web site headed by David Horowitz, a one-time liberal campus activist turned conservative critic.

One text required in Christensen's 9/11 course holds that the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States were orchestrated and carried out by U.S. government elites. The course teaches that the official story about Sept. 11 is the result of "government involvement in the coverup."

The attacks were used by neo-conservatives in the Bush administration, acting on behalf of pro-Israel Zionists, as "a catalyst for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the attack on civil liberties in the United States," according to the course's syllabus.

"I teach the truth about 9/11 in all of my courses," said Christensen, who also teaches classes on research methods and the American political system.

Other professors have encountered criticism for voicing alternative views of the Sept. 11 attacks. University of Colorado ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill came under scrutiny after writing that workers in the World Trade Center were the equivalent of "little Eichmanns," a reference to Adolf Eichmann, who ensured the smooth running of the Nazi system. Churchill said his essay referred to "technocrats" who participate in what he calls repressive American policies around the world. Churchill also spoke of the "gallant sacrifices" of the "combat teams" that struck America.

And North Carolina has seen battles over the academic community's response to Sept. 11, as when three incoming freshmen sued the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill over a summer reading assignment of a book that examined Muslim beliefs.

In an interview Monday with The Associated Press, Christensen - a tenured professor with 15 years at N.C. Wesleyan - defended her course.

"This is a war by the extreme right wing motivated by the Zionists to quash academic freedom on campus," she said.

Students will "never find anything that resembles the truth about 9/11 or the war in Iraq from the mainstream media," she added.

Christensen urged an interviewer to investigate how many Iraqis have been killed since the U.S. invasion two years ago, whether several of the suicide hijackers on 9/11 have since been spotted alive, and whether Israel is planning targeted killings of opponents in the United States.

"That's a hell of a lot more interesting than my (expletive) Web site," she said.

Christensen's page on the N.C. Wesleyan Web site shows a photo of black-clad people holding automatic weapons and the statement: "Fighting the New World Order."

The site includes links to founding documents of American democracy - like the Declaration of Independence and selected Federalist Papers - as well as to anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-Israel and pro-Palestine groups.

Ian Newbould, N.C. Wesleyan's president, defended Christensen in an interview.

"We don't tell professors what to think. We don't tell professors what to teach. The Eastern European Communist regimes, or Saddam Hussein for that matter, that's what they did," Newbould said Monday. "What makes America great is we don't do that. I've often used a quotation that they say comes from Voltaire, `I may disagree with what you say but I'll fight to your death your right to say it.' "

A year ago, Newbould participated in a panel discussion at a convention of independent college administrators about whether college presidents should express personal opinions on controversial national issues. He said presidents should stay in the background, while providing opportunities for campus discussion.

N.C. Wesleyan is a liberal arts college affiliated with the United Methodists.

Newbould said Monday the school is considering applicants for a second political science professorship - a hiring decision he said is independent of any controversy over Christensen.