Prof gets heat for declaring all Republicans 'racist scum'
- Clemson University Professor Bart Knijnenburg labeled all Donald Trump supporters and Republicans as “racist scum" on Facebook, demanding that they "denounce your affiliation, or admit you're a racist.”
- Knijnenburg advocated violence in one post, saying, “I admire anyone who stands up against white supremacy. Violent or non-violent," and adding the hashtag "#PunchNazis."
- Administrators issued a vague rebuke on Friday, condemning "expressions of hatred or violence," but many are demanding a more forceful response, such as requiring a public apology from Knijnenburg, or even firing him.
Days after a Clemson professor’s controversial comments broke via Campus Reform, some Clemson community members are explicitly calling for the professor’s ouster.
“All trump supporters, nay, all Republicans, are racist scum,” Clemson Assistant Professor Bart Knijnenburg wrote in a recent Facebook post, subsequently confirming in the comments section that he did, indeed, mean “all republicans.”
Clemson President Jim Clements and Faculty Senate President Amy Lawton-Rauh appeared to respond to the controversy in a blog post on the university’s website Friday, condemning “expressions of hatred and violence” while reaffirming the school’s commitment to freedom of speech.
“Last week, as we prepared to begin a new academic year, I shared a welcome message in which I touched upon the need for every member of the Clemson family to embrace and live our core values of honesty, integrity, and respect," the post reads.“In those remarks, I made it clear that expressions of hatred or violence have no place in our campus dialogue.”
Acknowledging that, “like many of the rights that make our democracy a model for much of the world, the right to free expression is going to be tested from time to time,” the post goes on to state that Clemson “faced one of those tests this week when the personal views of an individual evoked disappointment, concern, and outrage from many members of the Clemson family.”
While such incidents “can severely test our belief in the guarantees of free speech provided by the Constitution,” the statement calls on “everyone in the Clemson family to live our core values and rise above the fray” and “refrain from actions or speech that demeans or that aims to intimidate those with whom we disagree.”
The post does not to identify Knijnenburg by name, however, nor does it specifically state that it was a response to remarks by a Clemson employee.
Reactions to the blog post were swift when it was posted to the Clemson University Facebook page.
“Anything short of the Professor [sic] being dismissed is 100% unacceptable. This is from a current tuition paying parent. This professor must go,” one individual wrote, while others asked, “Is anything going to be done? It doesn’t say that,” and “Have you fired Bart?”
“What has our university become?” another lamented, while one individual proclaimed, “I call on alumni to stop donations immediately and write a letter saying so.”
Still another declared that “As much as I love my Tigers as long as that assistant professor is employed at the University I will not be attending any event there.”
Now, some are calling for a more forceful response through an anonymous online petition demanding Knijnenburg’s ouster.
“We the undersigned find the recent political statements made by Bart Knijnenburg unacceptable and not within the character of a Clemson University professor,” the petition declares, concluding that “Clemson University shouldn't be giving him a platform.”
The petition currently has 92 signatures, with a goal of 1,000.
Professor Knijnenburg has even made the Professor Watchlist, a project of Turning Point USA, which is meant “to expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.”
Spartanburg County, South Carolina GOP Chairman Josh Kimbrell wrote a letter to President Clements to express “serious concerns” over Knijnenburg’s “incredibly ignorant” comments, saying the school should insist that he issue a full apology.
“We Republicans recognize the inviolable nature of free speech, as protected by the First Amendment. I accept that Mr. Knijnenburg has a right to his personal opinion,” Kimbrell stated. “These opinions, however, when publicly expressed in a derogatory fashion reflect poorly on the institution of which you are president. Assistant Professor Knijnenburg should publicly apologize for his hate-filled rhetoric, and should disassociate his irresponsible rhetoric from Clemson University.”
“Please, do not allow Assistant Professor Knijnenburg’s irresponsible and offensive rhetoric to go unaddressed, lest such vitriol poison the positive regard in which your University is held by the majority of the citizens of our Great State,” the letter implores Clements.
“I read their response, and I believe that it is inadequate,” Kimbrell told Campus Reform. “The professor either needs to apologize or resign. If he were a conservative professor, that would have happened by now.”
Campus Reform reached out to Robin Denny, Clemson University’s Director of Media Relations, to determine whether Professor Knijnenburg’s comments constitute a “call for violence,” and what action the university will be taking, if any.
“We have nothing to add beyond the president’s recent statement,” Denny responded.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @rMitchellGunter