Last December when Drexel University professor George Ciccariello-Maher sarcastically tweeted, “All I want for Christmas is white genocide,” he didn’t realize that he would endure harassment and death threats for the entire year to come. Last week, he resigned his teaching position at the university.
“After a year of harassment by right-wing, white supremacist media outlets and Internet mobs, after death threats and threats of violence directed against me and my family, my situation has become unsustainable,” he wrote in a statement on Facebook.
All throughout 2017, conservative voices on social media decried the very real phenomenon on U.S. college campuses that pitted far-left activists against various speakers and teachers. One recipient of this particular brand of opposition was conservative writer Ben Shapiro, who was branded by leftist agitators as a “white supremacist” and a “fascist.” Shapiro’s views are controversial and questionable for sure, but they don’t resemble anything close to fascism or white supremacy. Attempts by protesters and “antifa” groups to block his and other voices (such as Milo Yiannopoulos) on the far-right were the perfect rallying cry for right-wing figures, allowing them to claim victim in a leftist campaign to clamp down on free speech.
While the left gifted the right with this legitimate grievance, you won’t hear the same kind of outrage afforded to figures on the left who are shut down for having an opinion. As The Washington Post points out, harassment against professors for having leftist viewpoints are a common occurrence.
Conservative-leaning websites have drawn attention to professors they allege “discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom,” according to one website, “Professor Watchlist.” Critics say the websites are an attack on academic freedom.
The tweets in question from Ciccariello-Maher are no doubt inflammatory. In October, he suggested that the Las Vegas shooting was a symptom of the “narrative of white victimization.” In WaPo op-ed from October titled “Conservatives are the real campus thought police squashing academic freedom,” Ciccariello-Maher wrote that his ideas are nothing new and reflect “decades of research on how race and gender function in our society.” Either way, he wasn’t afforded a debate regarding his ideas; he was only sent death threats.
Last December, death threats forced an Orange Coast College professor to flee her home state of California after a video surfaced of her telling her students that President Trump’s election was an “act of terrorism.” In June, an assistant professor at the University of Iowa was hit with hate mail and threats for her piece discussing how classical white marble statues were often painted. Stories of her work began to circulate online, with one reading, “Prof: ‘white marble’ in artwork contributes to white supremacy.”
All in all, the stifling of free speech in America isn’t just a problem with the left. It’s at best a bipartisan phenomenon and at worst a tactic utilized most successfully by the right.
Featured image George Ciccariello-Maher/Facebook