University Of Virginia Professor Takes Leave Of Absence For Criticizing Black Lives Matter As A “Racist” Organization Akin To The KKK

3943f6d800000578-3830775-image-m-3_1476103658138We have been discussing the concerns over free speech on our campuses, including the question of equal treatment given social postings by faculty in their private time. Douglas Muir, an adjunct professor at the University of Virginia’s Engineering School, has become the focus of these concerns after he took a leave of absence after he was criticized for calling Black Lives Matter as the biggest racist organization since the Ku Klux Klan. It was clearly an inflammatory statement and understandably viewed by many as insulting and ill-informed. However, there remain free speech concerns over when such statements have resulted in disciplinary actions for academics.

Muir wrote on Facebook “Black lives matter is the biggest rasist (sic) organisation (sic) since the clan (sic). Are you kidding me. Disgusting!!!”

That led to a condemnation from the Universities and calls for his termination.

This has renewed the debate over the impact of social media on academics and whether there is content-based approach to such controversies. It is in fact free speech and there are academic protections for unpopular speech. The college is right. However, there is a growing concern over the test being applied to academics based on the content of such speech. The controversy raises again the question of a double standard in controversies at the University of California and Boston University, where there have been criticism of a double standard, even in the face of criminal conduct. Recently, we discussed a case at the University of London involving Bahar Mustafa. We recently saw a student suspended for a joke on Yik Yak that was denounced as racist. Another student was fired for criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement.

Yet, critics have charged that countervailing comments have not resulted in the same levels of discipline or even outrage:

• At Dartmouth, Black Lives Matter protesters burst into the Baker-Berry Library and prevented students from studying or even leaving as some screamed racial epithets: “F–k you, you filthy white f–ks!” “F–k you and your comfort!” and “F–k you, you racist shits!” Vice Provost for Student Affairs Inge-Lise Ameer actually apologized to the protesters for all the negative comments directed at their conduct.

• A columnist at Berkeley wrote about “white devils,” students living off-campus at Claremont said they were looking for a roommate “of color,” and the University of Connecticut set up a living space designed to be supportive of black male students. Resident advisers at the State University of New York even created a course entitled “Stop White People,” and weren’t disciplined. Yet Rohini Sethi, Houston University’s student body vice president, was suspended for posting her view that “all lives matter” on social media. And Georgia Southern University student Emily Faz was the target of stalking and death threats after criticizing Black Lives Matter on Facebook; she had to take time off from her job to protect her co-workers.

• Tulane students tore down a “Trump wall” at a fraternity off campus without any sanction, but when someone wrote “Trump” on sidewalks in chalk, Emory issued a long letter commiserating with the students who were offended by the supposed intimidation.

• Boston University sociology professor Saida Grundy posted a series of racist screeds against white people but retained her job. Memphis professor Zandria Robinson was hired by Rhodes College after denouncing whites and insisting that “whiteness is most certainly and inevitably terror.” There is little doubt what would have happened to a professor who said the inverse of such statements about minorities.

I have tended to oppose discipline on both sides over social media postings. Thus, Joy Karega, an assistant professor of “rhetoric and composition” at Oberlin College posted bizarre claims on Facebook blaming Jews and Israel for 9/11 as well as ISIS. The college however decided that such postings are protected and it is correct in doing so.

Muir has been the subject of calls for his termination over a response to a Facebook post by a local real estate agent who attended a lecture by Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza and referred to BLM as “working for dignity for everyone.”.

The university responded to the calls for termination by denouncing Muir and clearly indicating that he was forced to take a leave:

“While free speech and open discussion are fundamental principles of our nation and the University, Mr. Muir’s comment was entirely inappropriate. UVA Engineering does not condone actions that undermine our values, dedication to diversity and educational mission. Our faculty and staff are responsible for upholding our values and demonstrating them to students and the community. Mr Muir has agreed to take leave and is preparing his own statement to the community.”

In the meantime, the mayor of Charlottesville, Wes Bellamy, has called on the public to boycott Muir’s “Bella’s” Italian restaurant that he runs with his wife, Valeria Bisenti.

Here Muir made a posting on his own Facebook account that he viewed BLM as itself racist and akin to the KKK. There is clearly ample reason to strongly object to that statement and that analogy. However, Muir was not advocating discrimination against students or questioning diversity or the education mission of the university. For faculty, the question remains where the line is drawn over the exercise of free speech, particularly on private social media accounts. If faculty members are to be fired or placed on leave for social media commentary, there should be a standard that not only respects free speech values and academic freedom but also maintains a clear line for equal treatment among academics.

What do you think?

49 thoughts on “University Of Virginia Professor Takes Leave Of Absence For Criticizing Black Lives Matter As A “Racist” Organization Akin To The KKK”

  1. My first thought had to do with his spelling and grammar. Either he doesn’t have a spell checker etc., or he is too fast to the gun…take a breath before hitting the enter button.

    As for his status of employment, that is none of my concern. His position is essentially an “at the pleasure of” one. He knows the rules and took a chance. He spoke freely and is not under threat of a federal or state charge. Ergo, he retains his Constitutional right of speech

    We often have to walk a fine line when in public positions. This walking the line is Darwinian in its nature and is self selecting as well.

    Be careful of that last push of the button. Once fired, the missive becomes a missile, an unguided one which may circle back.

    1. Is not the University of Virginia a state institution? I would assume that Virginia has a constitution and that it provides its public employees with free-speech protections. Maybe not…..the state slogan is “Virginia is for lovers.” I wonder if VA censors what lovers say to one another?

  2. And this guy calls himself an academic?

    “Black lives matter is the biggest rasist (sic) organisation (sic) since the clan (sic). Are you kidding me. Disgusting!!!”

    Perhaps U of V might consider recruiting its professors from a more cerebral section of the trailer park.

    1. Yeah! ‘Cuz people who live in trailer parks don’t get to have Free Speech rights! Only Liberals and Blacks in public housing!

      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

      (PS: You do realize that you are an Elitist Twit, don’t you?)

      1. I have no problem whatsoever with people in the trailer park having free speech rights; those rights are universal. But I do have a problem with ignorant twits pretending to be intellectuals.

        And I’d have a much bigger problem if I’d paid thousands of dollars to take a class from this clown. He has the intellect and communications skills of an ignorant child, and U of V should be ashamed.

        As for the pearl clutching offense you’ve claimed on behalf of the ignorant and the bigoted? I could care less – but not much.

        Have a nice day.

        1. Oh my, but I bet you are a handful at Starbucks! To wit:

          “I said Stevia! Not Sweet and Low! And a double espresso cappuccino, NOT a double espresso latte!!! And where is my Froth Heart??? That looks likes a Froth Football, or maybe on a good day, a Froth Kidney Bean!!! Frankly, I would return this drink just for the crummy latte art!!! And yes, I didn’t tip you when I was first here, because you mispronounced Biscotti. It’s BEE-scot-tay, not Biz-scotty!!! You ignorant redneck!”

          Squeeky Fromm
          Girl Reporter

          1. Wow. Sounds like your last day at Starbucks really stunk. No worries, I’m sure another great job will come along someday soon.

            But until then, you might want to consider lightening up on your internet commenting. Your PTSD is showing, and apparently you trigger quite easily. Effortlessly, really.

            1. Oh, I stay pretty intense. I think maybe it is the caffeine, plus my personality type. I do drink a lot of coffee and those lighter roasts are pretty strong. Which is what I am having right now. Choc Full of Nuts original. With some fourth and fourth.

              Squeeky Fromm
              Girl Reporter

              1. Squeek, Fiver lives in Mom’s basement. He’s hoping to move up to a double wide. He is revealing his jealousy.

  3. BLM promotes racism and violence against whites…and against the cops. Shockingly, they are funded by liberal billionaires.

    1. It isn’t shocking to me. Because I believe the whole rationale for the Democratic Party racial and gender victimology narrative is to race bait or gender bait to get votes for the Democrats. That is why protestations of irrationality or illogic seem to just bounce off them. Because it is only being promulgated to obtain votes and power for the Democrats.

      As Orwell wrote, in 1984:

      The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”

      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

  4. ALL it takes for evil to succeed in achidemia is for there to be an abundance of Good Men who do nothing and an abundance of of political cowards who bow to the will of rabal rousers, rather than doing their jobs and educating them. The schools Only position in situations laid out in this story should be simple. We are here to educate students who Asked to attend our institution. Any disruption of that process for any reason will result in expulsion. If you do not like various instructors, don’t take their classes. If seeing the name Trump frightens you, you don’t belong in college. If you have a problem with our school we will discuss it with you. Still NO disruption of the educational process via protesting, public complaint, or any other means will be tolerated.

  5. I am puzzled as to how and why a person who is unable to spell was able to become an adjunct professor of anything, particularly at what is supposed to be a top-flight university.

  6. Here is JT’s money quote:

    “Here Muir made a posting on his own Facebook account that he viewed BLM as itself racist and akin to the KKK. There is clearly ample reason to strongly object to that statement and that analogy.”

    No, Professor Turley, there is NOT ample reason to strongly object to that statement and analogy. I have noticed that you usually manage to put in some sort of obligatory, half-hearted wiggle-room sop to the liberals in your articles. Is there “clearly ample reason” for you, personally? I doubt it, or you would not have done the article in the first place.

    You listed several excesses by the BLM types, sooo there is not “clearly ample reason” to strongly object to the analogy. I mean, sheeesh, the KKK races baits, and so do the BLM types. So no, there is not “CLEARLY ample reason” to object to it.

    One problem that I note with your approach, and the approach of many educated white people, is that you have some sort of Conciliatory Complex when it comes to certain issues, particularly if blacks are involved. It is like you are constantly trying to partially cover up whatever bad thing is going on, lest you offend some unknown Higher Power somewhere. That reticence keeps you, and others of your social class, from simply calling stuff what it is.

    Another example, is when you talk about the Clinton email investigation. You seem to bend over backwards to keep from simply calling it what is was, a crooked investigation where the fix was already in. You will imply that around the edges of the issue, but you seem unable to just come right out and say it.

    I don’t know what kind of personal situation you are in with your employment. It is certainly possible if you roundly condemn BLM for their stupid, racist behavior that you will face the same sort of ostracization that the UVA guy did. And perhaps your reluctance to come out swinging sometimes is based on practical considerations like making a living and feeding your family. Which, if that is the case, then I take back what I said above.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. Professor Turley also referred to the statement as “ill informed”, which raised my brow. Spokesmen for BLM have explicitly rejected the phrase “All Lives Matters”. That implies they believe black lives matter more. That’s a form of black supremacy. In addition, people identified with the group have called for white people to be killed. Simply because they are white.

      The UVA professor was suspended for stating the objective truth: BLM is an explicitly racist organization. Anyone who says this is an “ill informed’ comment is someone unwilling to face reality.

    2. Squeek,

      I had the same thoughts when I read that part of JT entry. I’m glad to know I was not alone. Thanks for writing what I didn’t have the time to do, you are spot on!

      1. @Jim22

        Thank you!!! I have noticed that he crams that kind of stuff into a lot of articles. I think it is more a habit, and a matter of style, rather than a reasoned result of serious thought. But, who knows.

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

  7. BLM is a racist, thuggish organisation. The professor should not be required to take time off for telling the truth,

    1. I agree. BLM is a thuggish organization and I am appalled that they aren’t more widely recognized as what they are. Never in my lifetime has there been more division of the races as there is today, NEVER! BLM is a racist bullying, thuggish organization and should be stopped now. They are both violent and ignorant. Looking to blame others for their shortcomings, and seeking a free ride.

  8. Week after week we keep hearing about these asinine colleges. What I don’t understand is, where is the Fox News of college? That is, Fox News figured out that there was a need for a conservative voice amongst the sea of liberal press. It would seem that there is a great business opportunity for a college to form/promote/celebrate conservative values.

  9. Punishing people for having an opinion on something makes no sense at all. People disagree on everything. You can’t name one thing on which most people agree? That murder is bad? No. Lots of people approve of murdering people in other countries even when war has not been declared. Many people approve of capital punishment, eating meat, assisted suicide.

    Punishing people for having an opinion doesn’t stop people from having opinions.


    1. But it doesn’t mean they don’t cause harm:

      Former student’s removal from airplane spurs civil rights group to take action –

      Months after then-UC Berkeley student Khairuldeen Makhzoomi was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight after a fellow passenger overheard him speaking Arabic, a civil rights advocacy group has filed a complaint against the airline alleging racial and religious profiling.

      The local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR-SFBA, filed the complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings on Wednesday to encourage a federal investigation into Makhzoomi’s case.

      In the complaint, the group alleges Southwest Airlines violated a U.S. law prohibiting air carriers from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex or ancestry and calls on the U.S. Department of Transportation to “hold Southwest Airlines accountable for their actions against Makhzoomi,” according to a CAIR press release.

      Makhzoomi, an Iraqi refugee, was removed from his flight after a fellow passenger heard him say “inshallah,” which translates to “if God is willing.” Moments later, Makhzoomi was removed from flight 4260 and, in the hours that followed, was questioned by the FBI and refused service by Southwest Airlines.

      Though Makhzoomi said he was hesitant to file the complaint, he hopes it will encourage Southwest Airlines to change its policies so it can become a lesson to other airlines.
      “They need to revise their laws and revise their training … to hold them accountable for what they did to me and not to do it again with other people,” he said.

      Southwest Airlines issued a statement Friday that said an internal review of the incident concluded its response followed protocol, and that it was the content of Makhzoomi’s conversation, rather than the language used, that prompted the report and resulting investigation. “Our Crew responded by following protocol, as required by federal law, to investigate any potential threat to civil aviation,” the statement read. “We regret any less than positive experience a Customer has on Southwest. Southwest neither condones nor tolerates discrimination of any kind.” “I think this one particular case provides us an opportunity to think about what’s the broader climate of fear and intimidation that leads people to be fearful of a passenger on a flight simply because he is speaking Arabic,” said Charles Hirschkind, a campus associate professor of anthropology who studies contemporary developments in Islam.

      Since the incident in April, 26-year-old Makhzoomi has graduated from UC Berkeley and is in the process of applying to graduate school. He said what he wants most is an apology from Southwest Airlines. “What I want is just to solve this peacefully,” he said. “Say, ‘We are sorry we discriminated against you, we shouldn’t have treated you like this, (and) it’s a problem we have to recognize.’ This is how it should be.”

      – By Mariah De Zuzuarregui and Maya Eliahou

      1. Steve – Southwest was the airline that got spoofed by the CAIR reps who were asking for extra sized seat belts and moving around the cabin changing seats all the time. They were deboarded before the plane took off. I am always suspicious of anything that CAIR has their fingers in.

        1. And, if I remember correctly, Makhzoomi was speaking on the phone in Arabic. Another passenger who understands Arabic overheard him say things that caused that person to raise the alarm. “If you see something say something?” Not in real life. See something, say something, get sued.

          1. “Not in real life. See something, say something, get sued.”

            And what did “another passenger” hear him say in Arabic, “Allah is great, 20 seconds to detonate, let’s roll”?

            More at ‘hear somebody, hate somebody, harm somebody.’

            You’ve got to be taught to fear and hate, Ms. Goldstein.

  10. Here’s the inaccuracy in Muir’s analogy. All members of the KKK are racist. Many, but not all members of BLM are racist.

    I’m guessing Muir’s Italian wife, who runs their restaurant, wishes he just kept his mouth shut. But, who knows. Maybe it will help biz. There is a backlash against PC.

    1. re: “All members of the KKK are racist. Many, but not all members of BLM are racist. ” Very true – I try to keep pointing that out to my peeps! I find the growing restriction on free speech in universities frightening. A form of control which keeps people in line as students learn to view this as acceptable.

  11. In 20 years Muir will be charged with something akin to ‘ethnic intimidation’ or ‘inciting racial hatred’, and be criminally prosecuted. And no one will care as long as there is Sunday afternoon football.

  12. In America, if you are not a black person then you are not allowed to ever speak anything that is truthful about black racism!

  13. I think that an individual’s situation should not shoulder the entire burden of expectations of a national cause. This man made one opinion and as a result he is expected to hold a national platform. and subject to national scrutiny.

    Leave him alone. Can any of the readers be subject to such glass houses; where one sentence or comment can be enough for you to have your career and livelihood upended for saying one or two sentences? Nobody can be held to such a standard.

    People need to relax a bit and not be so uptight that they demand someone lose their career over one post on the internet.

    And, it is why I don’t recommend anyone utilize social media. There is nothing to gain from this.

  14. There have been extrajudicial murders and assaults of white people by black people claiming to represent BLM. BLM is a political movement dedicated to separation between the races. BLM holds sway with respect to suppressing free speech. BLM enjoys governmental support. In these ways BLM is comparable to what the KKK once was.

      1. Also George Soros you know everywhere George stirring up trouble. Anybody guess WHY??????

  15. Some elements of the BLM movement are racist unless, of course, one agrees that only whites can be racists. The professor has a right to his opinion and a right to voice it. If free speech is to mean anything, it must include the protection of speech with which we disagree but this important element seems to be forgotten by many who demand their own right to say and in some cases do anything in the name of one grievance or the other.

  16. I took some engineering classes and never viewed the content as political in any way, so the instructor’s political views would have been completely irrelevant to me.

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