Drexel University Bans Professor From Campus, Gives Alt-Right An Early Christmas Gift

I’ve signed and shared a statement of solidarity supporting George Cicciariello-Maher of Drexel University who has been placed on administrative leave by his employer, Drexel University. That statement begins as follows:

On October 9, 2017, Drexel University administrators sent a letter to Associate Professor George Ciccariello-Maher informing him that he was being placed on paid administrative leave, effective immediately. The reason, they stated, was based on considering professor Ciccariello-Maher’s presence on campus a significant public safety risk to the Drexel University community and to himself, after he received a number of death threats against him and his family. The threats followed Professor Ciccariello-Maher’s postings on Twitter about the shooting in Las Vegas. Prof. Ciccariello-Maher sought to answer the question: Why are these crimes almost always carried out by white men? by tweeting “It’s the white supremacist patriarchy, stupid.” The tweets unleashed the series of threats against him and his family, to which Drexel University answered by placing Professor Ciccariello-Maher on leave.

Drexel University has, by this spineless display of capitulation, sent an early Christmas gift to white supremacists and others of their ilk by providing them a blueprint for how they can silence those who might speak up against them: all you need to do is make a few death threats and the university will obligingly prevent the professor from teaching or even being present on campus. Ciccariello-Maher’s students have been denied their time in their classroom with their professor; and the alt-right can now turn its eyes elsewhere, looking for the next ‘loudmouth’ to silence. The tactical and strategic stupidity of their actions does not seem to bear too heavily on Drexel University; for now, they can hide behind the screen of ‘public safety.’ But such excuses will not wash, of course; Drexel has sought to silence Ciccariello-Maher previously as well.

A couple of weeks ago, I made notice here of a libelous postering campaign directed at Brooklyn College’s student and faculty, which accused me of being a ‘terrorist supporter.’ The college and university administration’s response has been tepid at best. (Our chancellor’s response descended into utter banality as he merely took note of some ‘troubling posters.’) These responses seem to be driven by the worry that responding in stronger terms will stir up a hornet’s nest, provoking more unwelcome attention. What they fail to realize is that the hornets are astir already, and will not be deterred by such pablum. They will especially not be deterred if universities cower and do their dirty work for them by banning and silencing those who have provoked this attention from the right.

It should be noted that Ciccariello-Maher does not have a First Amendment defense against his private employer; he is more vulnerable than those employed by public institutions (like me.) No matter how much you might disagree with his chosen rhetorical style or content, the fact remains that a dangerous precedent has been set, thanks to an astonishing capitulation in a political atmosphere that demands the very opposite of the actions chosen by Drexel University. Drexel should immediately reconsider and reinstate Ciccariello-Maher. (If you are an academic, please sign and share the statement of solidarity linked to above.)

8 thoughts on “Drexel University Bans Professor From Campus, Gives Alt-Right An Early Christmas Gift

  1. He lost his first amendment right when he disparaged the American soldiers who fought for his right to free speech.

    1. No dude. You don’t “lose your first amendment right” when you utilize it. That’s not actually how it works. Also, that aspect has already been addressed again and again.

      Don’t like what he has to say? Don’t listen. Calm down.

      1. Are you telling me I can’t read or listen to what someone has to say? How can I determine if I like it or not?

        I also regard his comments about the armed forces as hate speech. Do you consider hate speech ok under the 1st Amendment?

        I know that’s not how it works but this should be considered again and again until it can be changed.

        I am calm dude. I am also offended.

    2. Sorry Harvey Sankey, dropping agent orange on South East Asia and using white phosphorus on Iraqis did nothing to protect freedom of speech in the United States.

      The Pentagon targets young and lower income people for recruitment, it exploits them, and decimates the lives of people in the third world.

      1. What about WWI and WWII. Did they have anything to do with protecting our freedoms.

        The politicians screwed us in Vietnam. Did you see the Ken Burns Vietnam documentary on PBS?

        How does the Pentagon exploit low income people?

    3. Often what one does and what one thinks they are doing are different especially for victims of the most powerful propaganda machine in history. Unless one fought in the War of 1812 or WWII, one was only murdering for corporate cartels.

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