Professor George Ciccariello-Maher, who is white, followed it up with a Christmas Day tweet: "To clarify: when the whites were massacred during the Haitian revolution, that was a good thing indeed." The pair of tweets sparked widespread criticism from conservative outlets including the Daily Caller, which responded that Ciccariello-Maher "has a long history of espousing racist views towards white people on Twitter." Breitbart went further, declaring, "The professor's Twitter feed is filled with hateful, obnoxious messages, anti-Americanism, slams of President Donald Trump, attacks on Jews, as well as pro-Black Lives Matter and pro-communist sloganeering."
Drexel University sided with the sentiments of conservative commentators. "While the University recognizes the right of its faculty to freely express their thoughts and opinions in public debate, Professor Ciccariello-Maher's comments are utterly reprehensible, deeply disturbing, and do not in any way reflect the values of the University," according to an official statement from the school.
Ciccariello-Maher replied by referring to his tweet as "satirical," and called white genocide an "[invention of] white supremacists and… a figment of the racist imagination." He accused those outraged by the tweet of being part of a "coordinated smear campaign" and criticized the university for "caving to… harassment as an effective means to impact university policies."
Ciccariello-Maher claimed that the tweet was a joke to "mock" those who use the term white genocide to refer to "everything from interracial relationships to multicultural policies." He claimed that "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." The tweet has since been deleted.
Liberal publications, including Slate, have come to Ciccariello-Maher's defense. "White genocide… means diversity, shifting demographics, multi-racial couples, access to abortion, and immigration, all of which are relatively non-controversial Christmas wishes. But as soon as it became advantageous to pretend Ciccariello-Maher was referring to literal trains and camps instead of mocking the histrionic code words of a pack of racists, Breitbart was there, ready lead their moronic light brigade into battle," read a Sunday opinion piece.
A Change.org petition in Ciccariello-Maher's favor to "preserve academic freedom" and the "off-duty tweets of academics" has attracted over 7,000 signatures.
Ciccariello-Maher's area of study is Latin-American revolutions, particularly the Venezuelan social revolution in the late 90s and early 2000s. In his book, "Building the Commune: Radical Democracy in Venezuela," published in 2016, Ciccariello-Maher wrote "If we had any reason to doubt… that the brutality of elites tends to exceed that of the poor we need only look at the… brief coup against [Venezuelan president Hugo] Chávez in 2002… during which [Chávez's supporters] were hunted and beaten by braying mobs not of the poor and dark-skinned but of the wealthy and white."