Born in Maine on March 12, 1979, George Joseph Ciccariello-Maher IV has been an assistant professor of political science at Drexel University since 2010. He has authored three books of his own and also has translated works by Latin American thinkers such as Enrique Dussel, a major figure in the “philosophy of liberation,” and Anibal Quijano, influential in the fields of decolonial …
Born in Maine on March 12, 1979, George Joseph Ciccariello-Maher IV has been an assistant professor of political science at Drexel University since 2010. He has authored three books of his own and also has translated works by Latin American thinkers such as Enrique Dussel, a major figure in the “philosophy of liberation,” and Anibal Quijano, influential in the fields of decolonial studies and critical theory.
While living in Cambridge, England from 2001-03, Ciccariello-Maher joined an anti-capitalist collective through which he took part in “anarchist and anti-war organizing.” He participated in 2009 demonstrations in Oakland protesting the fatal police shooting of a young black man named Oscar Grant. Further, Ciccariello-Maher was a member of a now-defunct organization called Bring the Ruckus, which aimed “to forge a path between the Leninist vanguard party favored by traditional Marxist parties and the loose ‘network’ model of organizing favored by many anarchists and activists.”
In late 2016, Ciccariello-Maher drew national attention with a series of controversial comments which he posted on social media. On December 24, for instance, he tweeted that his wish for Christmas was “white genocide.” He followed that up with a December 25 tweet stating that “when the whites were massacred during the Haitian revolution, that was a good thing indeed.” Drexel University denounced the professor’s December 24 remark but refused to take disciplinary measures, citing his right to “freedom of expression.” Ciccariello-Maher subsequently described the December 24th tweet as a “satirical” commentary “about an imaginary concept, ‘white genocide,’” which he characterized as “an idea invented by white supremacists and used to denounce everything from interracial relationships to multicultural policies.” “It is a figment of the racist imagination, it should be mocked, and I’m glad to have mocked it,” he added.
In March 2017, Ciccariello-Maher again made headlines by tweeting that when he had recently watched a fellow airplane passenger give up his first-class seat to a uniformed serviceman, he (the professor) had to exercise considerable restraint in order “not to vomit or yell about Mosul.” (Mosul was an Iraqi city where recent U.S. airstrikes against ISIS terrorists had, in Ciccariello-Maher’s words, “incinerated an estimated 200 civilians.”) In a subsequent interview with Drexel University’s campus newspaper, The Triangle, Ciccariello-Maher described his tweet as “a very straightforward anti-war, anti-militaristic message” not only about the Mosul bombing, but “also about this general militarism in our culture.”
In a March 30, 2017 interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, Ciccariello-Maher claimed that Charles Murray — a Bradley Foundation research fellow who in 1994 co-authored The Bell Curve — was a “white nationalist” who had “burned crosses in his youth” before going on “to basically make a constant eugenic argument” for the notion that “blacks and Latinos are racially inferior” and “genetically debased.”
In a July 2017 interview with The Triangle, Ciccariello-Maher was asked to clarify the meaning of a pair of 2015 tweets he had posted about Ben Fields, a white South Carolina police officer who was seen on a cell-phone video forcibly removing a disruptive and defiant black teenage girl from a high-school classroom. Those tweets said: (a) “#BringBackFields, then do him like #OldYeller,” and (b) “Off the Pigs,” an old Black Panther slogan that once served as an exhortation to murder police officers. In his reply, Ciccariello-Maher said “it enrages me” to see “thousands” of “poor black and brown people” being “constantly” and unjustly “brutalized by the police” who “are really running rampant in our society today.” He then claimed: “Of course these are not tweets that call for any kind of violence…. They, in one sort of half-satirically, and one in a straightforward reference to the Black Panther Party, talk about transforming the society that we live in.”
Ciccariello-Maher’s principal academic interest is in the social movements of Latin America, particularly the Bolivarian revolution led by the late Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. In a July 2017 article analyzing the economic catastrophe which had struck that country since Chavez’s rise to power, the professor wrote: “The situation that prevails is not the result of too much socialism, but too little, and any path that attempts to split the difference between socialism and capitalism will endure the worst of both worlds.” “The only path forward,” he added, “is to deepen and radicalize the Bolivarian process through the expansion of the radically democratic socialism embodied in Venezuela’s grassroots communes.”
On October 12, 2017 – the day after a deranged white gunman named Stephen Paddock had killed 58 people and injured nearly 500 others at a country music festival in Las Vegas – Ciccariello-Maher wrote: “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. It is the spinal column of Trumpism, and [its] 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.” In response to those comments, Drexel University placed Ciccariello-Maher on administrative leave. In response, the professor began teaching his class remotely via video conference.
On November 6, 2017 – the day after another white gunman had killed 26 people in a Sutherland Springs, Texas church – Ciccariello-Maher said it was vital for Americans to ask: “What is going on in our society today? What is happening with regard to not only white people, but white men, in particular?”
On December 28, 2017, Ciccariello-Maher announced that he was resigning from Drexel, effective December 31. Four days later, he reported (on his Facebook page) that he had been hired as a visiting scholar by New York University’s Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics.
For additional information on Ciccariello-Maher, click here.
Further Reading: “About (George Ciccariello-Maher)” (GeorgeCiccariello.com); “Against Academic Alibis: The Best Education is the Struggle – An Interview with George Ciccariello-Maher” (ClassWarU.org, 8-19-2013); “Professor Tweets ‘Trying Not to Vomit’ after Passenger Gives up Seat to Soldier” (USA Today, 3-31-2017); “Triangle Talks with George Ciccariello-Maher” (The Triangle, 7-14-2017); “Which Way Out of the Venezuelan Crisis?” (by George Ciccariello-Maher, Jacobin magazine, 7-29-2017); “Drexel Professor George Ciccariello-Maher Placed on Leave after Las Vegas Tweets” (Washington Times, 10-11-2017); “After Texas Massacre, Drexel Prof. Asks: ‘What Makes White Men So Prone to This Kind of Behavior?’” (Democracy Now!, 11-6-2017)
- Wrote the professor on his Facebook page: “This is not a decision I take lightly; however, after nearly a year of harassment by right-wing, white supremacist media outlets and Internet mobs, after death threats and threats of violence directed against me and my family, my situation has become unsustainable. Staying at Drexel in the eye of this storm has become detrimental to my own writing, speaking, and organizing.”