George Ciccariello-Maher: joking about genocide

George Ciccariello-Maher

His name: George Ciccariello-Maher. Until recently, as we saw yesterday, he was climbing smoothly up the academic ladder, thanks to a canny habit of churning up precisely the right kind of politically correct hogwash – much, if not most, of it in praise of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela.

Then, this past Christmas Eve, he sent out the following tweet: “All I Want for Christmas is White Genocide.”

That would likely have been enough to win him the attention he ended up receiving. But that was just part of it. On Christmas Day, he also took to Twitter to praise the “massacre of whites.” Just in case you wondered which massacre of whites he was referring to, he offered the following: “To clarify: when the whites were massacred during the Haitian Revolution, that was a good thing indeed.” (Just to clarify further, the number of whites slaughtered in that revolt was somewhere in the range of 4,000.) All this, moreover, came only a couple of weeks after Cicariello-Maher had issued this confession, also via the same social network: “Sorry, I’m not ‘alt-left,’ just an actual communist.”

A contemporary rendering of Toussiant L’Ouverture, leader of the Haitian Revolution

When challenged by one of his Twitter followers about his genocide tweet, Cicariello-Maher pretended he’d been kidding: “LOL I was hacked I swear.” But then the word spread. Others checked out his Twitter feed. The genocide tweet went viral. It got the criticism it deserved. He deleted it and blocked his account.

But it was too late. Reacting to the public outcry, his employers at Drexel University weighed in with a statement acknowledging faculty members’ “right…to freely express their thoughts and opinions in public debate,” but added that his comments were “utterly reprehensible, deeply disturbing, and [did] not in any way reflect the values of the University.” The press release added that Drexel was “taking this situation very seriously” and that it had already arranged a meeting with the good professor “to discuss this matter in detail.”

When contacted by Inside Higher Ed, Cicariello-Maher, not sounding remotely contrite, defended his tweet as a “satirical” commentary on “an imaginary concept, ‘white genocide.’” Climbing on his academic high horse, he sneered: “For those who haven’t bothered to do their research, ‘white genocide’ is an idea invented by white supremacists and used to denounce everything from interracial relationships to multicultural policies….It is a figment of the racist imagination, it should be mocked, and I’m glad to have mocked it.” (Presumably Inside Higher Ed didn’t ask him whether he also considers the massacre of whites during the Haitian Revolution imaginary.) Instead of being moved to apologize, he added insult to injury, attributing the widespread fury over his tweet to “white supremacists.” Because if you take offense at a tweet about white genocide you obviously must be a white supremacist.

Another one of his books

He also shot back at his employers, calling their statement “worrying” because, by calling his tweets “reprehensible,” they had effectively caved in “to the truly reprehensible movements and organizations that I was critiquing.” Drexel’s press release, he added, had sent “a chilling message” and set “a frightening precedent” by suggesting that “untenured and temporary faculty” were subject “to internal disciplinary scrutiny” and allowing outside “harassment” to dictate university policy. Of course, colleges like Drexel routinely demonize, censor, and punish faculty and students who diverge from the lockstep PC line; for the likes of Ciccariello-Maher, however, such official condemnation is only “chilling” and “frightening” when the targets are extreme leftists such as himself. “White supremacy is on the rise,” he warned, “and we must fight it by any means. In that fight, universities will need to choose whether they are on the side of free expression and academic debate, or on the side of the racist mob.”

Fortunately for Ciccariello-Maher, many of his fellow academic leftists were eager to stand up for him. We’ll get to that tomorrow.