A Drexel University associate professor of history and politics on the hot seat for sending a holiday greeting wishing for "white genocide" insisted the message was satirical and that he was the victim of a right-wing witch hunt.
The Twitterverse exploded after George Ciccariello-Maher tweeted to his 11,000 followers on Christmas Eve: "All I want for Christmas is white genocide." He added the following day: "To clarify, when the whites were massacred during the Haitian revolution, that was a good thing indeed."
Critics blasted the "reverse racism" of the message and conservative web site the Daily Caller accused Ciccariello-Maher of "trying to protect himself by claiming the incident was an elaborate joke".
But Ciccariello-Maher, who is white, stood by the statement and said he was making a political point that he had every right to make. He claimed he was attacking white supremacists by mocking their "imaginary concept" that minorities were bent on "white genocide."
"On Christmas Eve, I sent a satirical tweet about an imaginary concept, 'white genocide.' 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," Ciccariello-Maher wrote in an email to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
"It is a figment of the racist imagination, it should be mocked and I'm glad to have mocked it," Ciccariello-Maher said, noting he received "hundreds of death threats" since posting the tweet. Public access to his Twitter account is currently blocked.
Ciccariello-Maher complained that he was targeted by a "coordinated smear campaign [that] was orchestrated to send mass tweets and emails to myself, my employer and my colleagues."
Administrators of the Philadelphia university have called for a meeting with Ciccariello-Maher in the wake of his "inflammatory tweet."
While Drexel "recognizes the right of its faculty to freely express their thoughts and opinions in public debate ... Ciccariello-Maher's comments are utterly reprehensible, deeply disturbing, and do not in any way reflect the values of the University," the college said in a statement.
Ciccariello-Maher said the university's response to his tweet and its "tepid" defense of free speech "sends a chilling message and sets a frightening precedent." He said it essentially amounted to "caving to the truly reprehensible movements and organizations that I was critiquing."
Ciccariello-Maher's Drexel web page describes him as an expert on Latin American social movements; he also writes about race, racism, prisons and policing in the U.S. and internationally. His own web site describes him as a "radical political theorist."