A Drexel University professor who has come under fire multiple times for controversial tweets is again in hot water over social-media posts.
Law enforcement officials are still trying to determine the motive behind gunman Stephen Paddock’s mass shooting in Las Vegas over the weekend. But on Twitter, politics and global studies professor George Ciccariello-Maher placed the blame on “Trumpism” and “white victimization.”
Hours after the shooting, which has claimed 59 lives and left more than 500 injured, Ciccariello-Maher kicked off a Twitter thread with a three-word message: “A White Man.”
A White Man
— George Ciccariello (@ciccmaher) October 2, 2017
In a series of tweets, Ciccariello-Maher claimed “the narrative of white victimization” and “Trumpism” were behind the shooting. “White people and men are told that they are entitled to everything,” the professor wrote. “This is what happens when they don’t get what they want.”
Ciccariello-Maher didn’t just go after conservatives; he also attacked liberals for their push for stricter gun laws in the wake of the tragedy.
“To believe that someone who would shoot down 50 people wouldn’t circumvent any gun law you pass is the height of delusion,” Ciccariello-Maher wrote, claiming that both the gun lobby and the anti-gun lobby are “racist as [expletive].”
Ciccariello-Maher did not immediately respond to a request for comment. On Twitter, he said he had received death threats over his recent comments. He later posted a series of tweets bashing the media for its coverage of the controversy.
Ciccariello-Maher’s social-media comments “are his own opinion and do not represent the University’s views,” Drexel said in a statement. “Drexel is deeply saddened by the tragic shooting in Las Vegas. The thoughts and prayers of the Drexel community are with the families of those affected by this senseless act of violence.”
Ciccariello-Maher has a history of making controversial statements on Twitter, sometimes along racial lines. Last Christmas, in response to the outrage over a State Farm Insurance ad that showed a black man proposing to a white woman, he created a firestorm of his own with an eight-word tweet on Christmas Eve he said he intended as satire: “All I want for Christmas is white genocide.”
Then, in March, Ciccariello-Maher temporarily turned his Twitter account private due to the criticism he received after a tweet about an airline passenger giving up his seat for a uniformed soldier went viral.
Some guy gave up his first class seat for a uniformed soldier. People are thanking him. I'm trying not to vomit or yell about Mosul.
— George Ciccariello (@ciccmaher) March 26, 2017
In a statement following that tweet, Ciccariello-Maher said his views were “misrepresented” by right-wing media outlets.
“I respect anyone who makes difficult and dangerous decisions out of economic necessity — whether they are public school teachers, construction workers, economic migrants, or young soldiers,” the professor said at the time. “What I don’t respect is a brutal invasion and occupation of Iraq that has not made our world any safer — a war that has taken advantage of economically disadvantaged Americans, a war that has given the world ISIS, and a war that has wrought carnage like that seen in Mosul and elsewhere.”
Ciccariello-Maher hasn’t been punished by Drexel because his tweets are done on his own time and protected as “extramural speech” under the American Association of University Professors’ academic-freedom policy.
“Satirical speech about matters of public concern by professors should not be sanctionable,” Gregory F. Scholtz, associate secretary and director of the association’s department of academic freedom, tenure and governance, told my colleague Susan Snyder in January.