Browsing the terrorism studies section of the University of East Anglia library this afternoon, I saw many of the books I expected to see.
Gilles Kepel, probably the leading French expert on Islamist and jihadist organisations. Then there were the primary sources - books written by terrorist actors, and/or collections of their speeches and statements. So far so good. However, I next saw something which made my blood pressure rise very quickly indeed. No fewer than four copies of 9/11 truther Ian Henshall's "9/11: The New Evidence". There - right amongst serious books on the subject. It was like finding a caterpillar in a freshly served salad on a summer's day.
And the UEA library sums up the problem I - and hopefully others - have with the 'truth' movement. If these ideas are not critiqued and batted away early, they take root. They begin to be placed on university bookshelves, considered alongside primary sources, and serious investigators like Kepel. Next, some students are taken in by such nonsense. And we end up spending our time in seminars, not debating Al Qaeda or 7/7, but debating whether the Neo-Conservatives allowed 9/11 to happen, or whether the 7/7 bombers were patsies.
Its is not just that students paying £9000 per year deserve better than that - we all do.