Yesterday I learned that George Ciccariello-Maher, an associate professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia, has recently come under fire for a stupid joke he sent out on Twitter a couple of days ago. On Christmas Eve, he tweeted: “All I want for Christmas is white genocide.” Immediately Ciccariello-Maher began receiving angry replies and death threats. Soon the right-wing news digest Breitbart picked up the story, which then led to further outcry around the web. Drexel responded the next day by issuing a statement that condemned the “inflammatory tweet,” calling it “utterly reprehensible” while assuring readers that the school “takes this matter very seriously.”
Needless to say, this is an outrageous effort by a major conservative outlet to muzzle a minor left-wing academic. By whipping up public indignation, this gang of online reactionaries hopes to exert enough institutional pressure to threaten Ciccariello-Maher’s livelihood. This comes only a few weeks after the unveiling of Turning Point USA’s Professor Watchlist, a neo-McCarthyite initiative that purports to monitor “professors who advance a radical agenda in lecture halls” by compiling a dossier of their “subversive” activities. Were Drexel to punish or otherwise discipline Ciccariello-Maher, it would set an alarming precedent. Extramural political speech ought to be protected.
Cynthia Walker has drawn up a petition in support of the embattled professor, which I encourage everyone to sign. I’ve added my own signature to it, along with seven thousand or so who have done likewise, despite some lingering doubts about the efficacy of such measures. (Maybe other people had more exciting civics classes than I did, but I never much saw the point of writing concerned letters or fervent entreaties. Just takes a second, though, so it’s not really a hassle). Regardless of what one may think of him, it’s not as if he deserves to lose his job over this petty shit.