In a statement released on Thursday, officials at Drexel University seem to be seeking a middle ground on the inflammatory remarks of University Professor George Ciccariello-Maher’s Christmas Eve tweet, which said, “All I want for Christmas is White Genocide.”
Drexel University responded, “The University vigorously supports the right of its faculty members and students to freely express their opinions in the course of academic debate and discussion. In this vein, we recognize Professor Ciccariello-Maher’s tweets as protected speech.
“However, his words, taken at face value and shared in the constricted Twitter format, do not represent the values of inclusion and understanding espoused by Drexel University. As we engage with one another in conversation, it is important to remember that these principles -- academic freedom, freedom of speech and the need for inclusivity and respect -- are not mutually exclusive.”
From a letter signed by President John Fry and Provost M. Brian Blake, the statement went on to say,
“While Professor Ciccariello-Maher has defended his comments as satire, the wide range of reactions to his tweets suggests that his intentions were not adequately conveyed. These responses underscore the importance of choosing one’s words thoughtfully and exercising appropriate judgment in light of the inherent limitations presented by communications on social media.”
An article published by Inside Higher Ed chronicles the “backlash to the backlash” regarding Mr. Ciccariello-Maher’s tweet:
“More than 9,000 people have signed a petition [circulated prior to the release of Thursday's statement by Drexel] that said: ‘Let Drexel know -- in the midst of the deafening, organized troll-storm -- that racist trolls deserve no platform in dictating academic discourse, let alone the off-duty tweets of academics. They are being VERY noisy; we can't be silent."
Many other groups and authors have been critical of the original Drexel statement.
A blog post by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education said that the university "failed" to defend academic freedom. A blog post at Reason, a libertarian publication, said, "Even if Ciccariello-Maher isn't formally disciplined, the experience of being called before the administration to answer for his tweet-crimes is a form of silencing."”
To date, Mr. Ciccariello-Maher has made no public response to this latest missive issued by Drexel.
A group of children wearing concentration camp uniforms are shown at the Auschwitz
concentration camp shortly after their liberation in January 1945. (AP)