UPDATE: Prof. apologizes for French terrorist attack rant

Yesterday, a humanities professor ranted on Twitter that the massacre of several employees of a French satirical magazine wasn’t surprising because of the publication’s content.

After his tweets garnered national media attention, Adam Kotsko, a professor at Shimer College, has issued a public apology and retraction.

The professor who ranted on Twitter about the nature of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical publication where several employees were massacred Wednesday has, since apologized and denounced the attacks.

Adam Kotsko, an assistant professor of humanities at Shimer College, tweeted that the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo’s employees was unsurprising as, in his words, it’s “a newspaper devoted to hate speech.” His tweets garnered national media attention and the ire of a multitude of Twitter users.

“Making the statements I did was hugely irresponsible and insensitive, and I quickly realized this and deleted them,” Kotsko wrote in his blog post. “Unfortunately, someone screen captured them and reframed them as a justification of the attacks. I want to be clear that I did not intend to justify the attacks.”

“Hence I want to be completely clear: I unambiguously denounce the attacks, not only for the needless death and destruction they immediately caused, but because of the inevitable backlash they will bring down on the Muslim community in France and elsewhere,” he also wrote.

The professor, who holds a Ph.D. in theology, ethics, and culture from Chicago Theological Seminary, wrote that his rant was based on “misinformation” about the attacks.

“I had somehow gotten the impression that the publication in question was an exclusively anti-Muslim one, devotedly solely to insulting and marginalizing Muslims,” Kotsko said. “This is obviously false. Secondly, I did not realize the full scale of the attack, which does not appear to be the result of inarticulate rage (as I had initially envisioned) but of significant planning motivated by a political strategy that, while profoundly misguided and unrealistic, does make it something other than a crime of passion.”

Despite the backlash over his original controversial tweets, which have since been deleted, Kotsko has still remained active on Twitter, even responding to those reaching out to him about his comments on Charlie Hebdo.

“I continue to engage with Twitter users because I'm stubborn and it makes me angry that they continue to misrepresent my position,” Kotsko told Campus Reform in an email.

In his blog, Kotsko also expressed a desire to clarify his tweets regarding Charlie Hebdo not being a “right-wing hate rag.”

“The only reason I mentioned ‘right wing’ in that context was because in my experience, essentially all publications that could be defined as a ‘hate rag’ (i.e., dedicated to the denigration of Muslims, immigrants, or other minorities) are right-wing,” Kotsko wrote. “Yet not all right-wing publications are hate rags! The decisive factor in my about-face, aside from the scale of the attack itself, was that CH [Charlie Hebdo] is not a hate rag — in my opinion, it doesn’t matter whether it’s left-wing, centrist, or right-wing. It happens to be left wing, but obviously I don’t have any special loyalty to it for that or any other reason, given that I had not heard of it until yesterday.”

In a tweet yesterday, Kotsko said that his views and tweets were not representative of Shimer, a private liberal arts school in Chicago.

On Wednesday, two masked gunman walked into Charlie Hebdo’s Paris office and killed 12 people, including two police officers. Among those murdered by the Islamic extremists were several popular cartoonists and the magazine’s editor.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @K_Schallhorn