SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud had an abrupt response for anyone calling him to fire a vocal, radically liberal professor:
“No,” Syverud wrote in an email to the campus community last week.
Syverud’s defense came in response to a Twitter firestorm, set off by a tweet from Professor Dana Cloud.
Cloud tweeted from a counter-protest in support of Muslims in Syracuse June 10 outside the James M. Hanley Federal Building.
Syracuse was one of 25 cities where ACT for America held a “March Against Sharia” rally. Cloud was among the counter-demonstrators who chanted “No Trump, no KKK, no facist USA,” and “Muslims are welcome here.”
From the rally, Cloud published a tweet, encouraging more Syracusans to join in protests of “the fascists … to finish them off.”
We almost have the fascists in on the run. Syracuse people come down to the federal building to finish them off.
— Dana Cloud (@danaleecloud) June 10, 2017
Twitter users seized on “finish them off,” replying to her at least 37 times, with hundreds more responses and retweets following. Conservative columnist Anne Coulter retweeted Cloud’s tweet, prompting hundreds of reactions.
Oh professor. That one’s going to haunt you. Get your resume ready.
— Colleen McManus (@itscollmc) June 16, 2017
Some called for her resignation or firing.
— Fred Swink (@Freidken) June 17, 2017
Dozens more threatened Cloud or used slurs against her.
Syverud said in his statement that he had recieved messages calling for Cloud to be fired or disciplined from people who interpreted her comments to involve violence.
He said she and the university rejected this interpretation.
“They insist that the University — and that I — denounce, censor, or dismiss the professor for her speech,” Syverud said, refusing to concede.
“I can’t imagine academic freedom or the genuine search for truth thriving here without free speech,” Syverud wrote. “Our faculty must be able to say and write things — including things that provoke some or make other uncomfortable — up to the very limits of the law.”
Some Twitter users praised the university for standing by Cloud.
— Liz Droge-Young (@LizDrogeYoung) June 22, 2017
Cloud, a communications and rhetorical studies professor in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, is no stranger to controversy.
Cloud is a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (against Israel) movement and describes her views as radical liberalism.
She has been named to various “blacklists” of professors during her career.