Drexel University in Philadelphia has placed associate Professor George Ciccariello-Maher on leave due to security threats ever since he blamed "Trumpism" and the "narrative of white victimization" for the mass shooting in Las Vegas on Oct. 1.
Mr. Ciccariello-Maher came under fire last week after he fired off a series of tweets criticizing white men less than 24 hours after Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring 489 others who were attending a country music festival.
"Yesterday was a morbid symptom of what happens when those who believe they deserve to own the world also think it is being stolen from them," Mr. Ciccariello-Maher wrote. "It is the spinal column of Trumpism, and most extreme form is the white genocide myth. The narrative of white victimization has been gradually built over the past 40 years. White people and men are told that they are entitled to everything. This is what happens when they don't get what they want."
Drexel University initially tried to distance itself from the instructor's comments, saying his opinions do not represent the university's views. However, the school issued a statement on Tuesday saying he had been placed on leave after numerous threats were made against him and the campus community, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Mr. Ciccariello-Maher said news reports on his tweets by websites like Breitbart News, The Daily Caller and Fox News have led to threats. In an op-ed published Tuesday by The Washington Post, titled "Conservatives are the real campus thought police squashing academic freedom," Mr. Ciccariello-Maher said he had become the target of a smear campaign by conservative media.
"As a scholar and teacher, giving context and depth to contemporary debates is an important part of what I do, and it's a calling I take seriously," he wrote. "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."
Mr. Ciccariello-Maher said he disagreed with Drexel's decision to place him on leave and that he was prepared to take legal action.
"By bowing to pressure from racist internet trolls, Drexel has sent the wrong signal: That you can control a university's curriculum with anonymous threats of violence," he wrote. "Such cowardice notwithstanding, I am prepared to take all necessary legal action to protect my academic freedom, tenure rights and most importantly, the rights of my students to learn in a safe environment where threats don't hold sway over intellectual debate. Alongside organizations like the Campus Antifascist Network, I will continue to challenge white supremacists in an effort to make Drexel and all universities safe space for an intellectual debate among equals."
This isn't the first time Drexel University has had to address Mr. Ciccariello-Maher's tweets. On Christmas Eve, he wrote, "All I Want for Christmas is White Genocide," prompting a response by Drexel calling his comment "utterly reprehensible" and "deeply disturbing."
Mr. Ciccariello-Maher made headlines again in March when he tweeted that he wanted to "vomit" when an airline passenger gave up his first-class seat for a uniformed soldier.