Professor Ciccariello-Maher and the Fascist Thought Police

October 14, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


Conservatives are the real campus thought police squashing academic freedom.” This op-ed appeared in the October 10 issue of The Washington Post, written by George Ciccariello-Maher, tenured professor of politics and global studies at Drexel University. The professor has become the latest target of what he describes as the “coordinated onslaught” that’s been systematically unleashed against progressive and radical scholars and academic freedom on university campuses since the Trump/Pence regime took power.

Following the Las Vegas mass killings, Professor Ciccariello-Maher posted a series of tweets addressing the question—“Why are these crimes almost always carried out by white men?” As he explains in the article, he was “diagnosing a sense of double entitlement—as white people and as men—that, when frustrated, can occasionally lead to violent consequences.” And he continued:

My argument was not new, but rather reflects decades of research on how race and gender function in our society. To be both white and male is to be subject to a potent cocktail of entitlement to economic and political power, and to dominate nonwhite and female bodies. When that entitlement is frustrated, it can lead to what the criminologist Mike King calls “aggrieved whiteness,” an ambient furor based on the idea that white Americans have become oppressed victims of politically correct multiculturalism.

In my view as a researcher and professor of politics, these tweets were neither provocative in tone nor controversial in content. Rather, the insight they provided felt all the more pressing now that President Trump has brought this aggrieved whiteness into daily headlines....But more and more, professors like me are being targeted by a coordinated right-wing campaign to undermine our academic freedom—one that relies on misrepresentation and sometimes outright lying, and often puts us and our students in danger.

What the professor was calling out—emboldened white supremacy and male supremacy—are, along with America First national chauvinism, the three pillars of the Trump/Pence regime's fascist ideology and program. To this regime’s "ministry of propaganda," the professor’s analysis was not going to be tolerated. In no time the professor saw his posts picked up and deliberately distorted by the Daily Caller, a rabid right-wing outlet created by Fox’s Tucker Carlson. Soon thousands of vile and vicious threats were coming at Ciccariello-Maher. Then the “outrage machine” as the professor calls it spread the “story” like wildfire—including Steve Bannon’s Breitbart News, Milo Yiannopoulos’ own website, David Horowitz’ FrontPage, the Turning Point, and more. Fox News then stepped in, spewing out the completely false claim that the professor blamed the victims themselves for the Las Vegas killings.

Since the start of the Trump/Pence regime, Professor Ciccariello-Maher has been in the crosshairs of this fascist mob which has been aiming to drive him out of his position and his profession. And there are many other radical and progressive scholars around the country who are being threatened in the same way. There has been a fascist movement underway for decades targeting the universities, with its sights set on “taking back” the universities from the “tenured radicals” and critical thinkers who have, since the 1960s, been challenging the mythology of “American Greatness,” and “America as a force for good in the world,” used to justify American crimes against humanity without equal. In the eyes of this fascist regime the universities represent a serious obstacle to consolidating a new social order based on overt white supremacy, male supremacy, and America First chauvinism everywhere.

Some university administrators have stood by their faculty in the face of these attacks, and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has called on faculty and administrators to condemn and firmly stand up to these attacks. Drexel University has instead put Cicariello-Maher on “administrative leave”—in the name of protecting the safety of students, faculty and staff from threats. Whatever their intentions, this capitulation rewards and encourages these fascist goons. And it sets a dangerous precedent for other universities to submit to such threats, as well as to the increasing efforts by fascist state and federal legislators to threaten administrators with loss of funding if they fail to take action against the targeted professors. This attack on radical and progressive scholars across the country, and on the very atmosphere where critical thinking and dissent still has room to breathe, must be met by the most fierce, determined resistance.

Michael Slate interviewed professor Ciccariello-Maher on The Michael Slate Show on Pacifica’s KPFK (90.7 FM) in Los Angeles in July, about the professor’s resistance to previous attacks on himself and on other academics. In response to Slate’s question about what’s at stake in relation to these attacks, the professor talked about the need for spaces where people can learn to question the dominant narratives, such as blaming immigrants for unemployment and wages, etc. and learn the way the actual workings of the system are creating these conditions. And more, “We need to keep those spaces, not so we can simply educate people in better citizenship, but no, so we can actually interact and create militants who are gonna be able to fight this fight going forward... “

These fascist threats on the universities, on critical thinking and dissent, and the search for the truth underscore the urgency of driving the Trump/Pence regime from power. Students, faculty, and the universities as a whole have a critical and urgent role to play in bringing forward a movement from the campuses that joins with others around the country and takes to the streets declaring: This nightmare must end. November 4: It Begins. In the Name of Humanity, Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime.


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