George Ciccariello-Maher, tenured associate professor of politics and global studies at Drexel University (my alma mater), in an op-ed for The Washington Post headlined “Conservatives Are the Real Campus Thought Police Squashing Academic Freedom”:
Caught in this wave of right-wing threats and provocations, many
universities are scrambling to keep up with the coordinated
onslaught. In the best of cases, university administrations and
departments have publicly condemned threats against faculty and
made clear that they do not cave to intimidation campaigns. The
American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has even
responded to our cases with new guidelines urging universities to
resist the targeted online harassment of their faculty.
In response to such illegal threats of violence, Drexel has chosen
to place me on administrative leave. Earlier in the week, I asked
my students to explain the relation between white masculinity and
mass killings, and they offered in a few short minutes of class
discussion far more insight than any mainstream media outlet has
offered all week. But now, their own academic freedom has been
curtailed by their university, and they are unable to even attend
the classes they registered for.
By bowing to pressure from racist internet trolls, Drexel has sent
the wrong signal: That you can control a university’s curriculum
with anonymous threats of violence.
Drexel is setting a cowardly, shameful example here. Ciccariello-Maher is not being placed on leave because of the content of his thread of tweets in response to last week’s gun massacre in Las Vegas, but simply because a bunch of anonymous white dudes sent threats — and, let’s face it, because of the bad PR of having Ciccariello-Maher unjustly vilified by Fox News.
★ Wednesday, 11 October 2017