Southern California Professor Forced to Teach Remotely After Inflammatory Rhetoric Against Hamas

Economics professor John Strauss from the University of Southern California is teaching remotely for the rest of the term in a controversy that has serious free speech implications. Strauss was made the subject of a protest after confronting protesters on campus and calling for all Hamas terrorists to be killed. A deceptively edited videotape was posted that made it sound like Strauss was calling for all Palestinians to be killed. The move is part of a disturbing trend limiting free speech on campuses.

The controversy began on Nov. 9th during a pro-Palestinian protest on the USC campus and Strauss walked by near the Tommy Trojan statue on campus. He had words with the protesters and, in the course of their exchange, Strauss said that he walked toward the students and inadvertently stepped on flyers showing Palestinians killed in Gaza. The students said it was intentional.

When Strauss had a second encounter with the protesters, one student yelled “Shame on you, Professor Strauss. Shame on you.” In response, he yelled “No, shame on you. You people are ignorant. Really ignorant. Hamas are murderers. That’s all they are. Every one should be killed, and I hope they all are.”

That videotape was then edited and a viral video showed Strauss saying, “Every one should be killed, and I hope they all are.” The posters removed the reference to Hamas.

Both students and faculty proceeded to file complaints with the university, including claims of students that they felt unsafe and threatened by Professor Strauss being on campus.

The next day, USC issued a statement that it was aware of the video on social media and was investigating the matter. Strauss says that he also received a call from the associate dean of the college informing him that he was put on paid administrative leave for the rest of the semester. He would only be allowed to teach his graduate class remotely, but reportedly would be barred from his undergraduate class. USC later said that he could teach both classes, but only remotely.

He is now facing the inevitable cancel campaign with the signature petition demanding his firing for “racist and xenophobic behavior.” It has garnered thousands of signatures. The petition repeats the misleading edited version in stating that Strauss yelled “everyone should be killed, and I hope they all are”  and that the words were “not only offensive but also promote and incite violence.”

FIRE has written a letter to USC, calling for his full reinstatement and continues to advocate on his behalf. The Academic Freedom Alliance, a coalition of college and university faculty focused on protecting freedom of expression, has also issued a letter to USC Provost Andrew Guzman on behalf of Strauss.

The video shows Strauss responded to the protesters as he walked by.  It was clearly protected speech and should not have generated the university order. I have opposed efforts on both sides to ban or blacklist protesters or groups over the war in Gaza. While universities do need to respond to the destruction of flyers (including by faculty) and threats to students or faculty, this incident does not suggest a credible case of threats.It is hard to establish intent when flyers on the ground are walked upon by third parties.  We have discussed prior misunderstandings over flyers. However, disciplinary action should not be based on such uncertain facts, particularly after a clearly misleading campaign using a highly edited videotape. Professor Strauss denies that he stepped on the flyers on purpose and his comments concerned Hamas. I have previously written that Hamas is legally, factually, and morally a terrorist organization.  Hoping that a terrorist organization is destroyed after a massacre is not the same as wishing to kill all Palestinians.

The involvement of faculty in joining this effort is disappointing, but unfortunately, not surprising. Faculty members have long joined such cancel campaigns against conservative, libertarian, and dissenting faculty. It is part of what I have described as the most successful anti-free speech movement in history.

In my view, USC has abandoned its duties to both Professor Strauss and free speech in taking these actions. The treatment of Strauss as a possible threat to students is unsupported and insulting on these facts. Absent new evidence, Professor Strauss should be restored fully to his status, including teaching on campus.

Professor Strauss is a respected and accomplished academic who was Editor-in-Chief of the scientific journal, Economic Development and Cultural Change. He has worked throughout the world on economic development.




51 thoughts on “Southern California Professor Forced to Teach Remotely After Inflammatory Rhetoric Against Hamas”

  1. Thee are no such things as ” innocent palestinians” .. 80% agree with the Israeli massacre by Hamas and they voted Hamas in as their government

  2. If he had said ” All white people, christians and Israelis should be murdered” .. he would have been given tenure and a raise.

  3. The Palestinians do in fact support Hamas and the university students and faculty will have their opportunity to deal directly with both Hamas and the Palestinians that support them. Their spoiled ignorance and arrogance will quickly turn to whimpers as reality sets in hard.

    1. ‘Palestinians’ living in Gaza don’t have a chance or a choice, radical Islam and Palestinian dogma is inculcated from birth, and dissent is not tolerated. No wonder the Iranians support them. As for those in the USA that support Hamas, they are simply willfully ignorant of history and facts, and have been subjected to indoctrination as well.

  4. Absolute freedom of unrestricted speech, is the only side to be taken. Or so methinks? Good luck to all!

    1. Remember this old saying, “Don’t let your grizzly bear mouth overload your canary ass.” Free speech is great but you should always be prepared to back up your claims.

  5. As someone who falls toward sympathy with the Palestinians (and also wishes well for Israeli civilians), I don’t believe the Professor should be penalized like that. At the same time, if a Professor said he wishes all Israeli soldiers should be killed, I also would uphold the right of that Professor to continue teaching normally. From the Palestinian perspective, the IDF is 100x worse than Hamas will ever be so as much as it may sound abhorrent to the average American, visiting the nearly 60 Muslim countries in the world, that is an average statement that would not raise eyebrows. Both sides should have free speech rights.

    1. “From the perspective of the Palestinians the IDF…”. Anonymous, from the perspective of Hitler and the Nazis, I’m sure you would find a lot of agreement with the majority of Palestinians on those types of statements. However, here in the U.S. the IDF, unlike Hamas, is not declared to be a terrorist organization. As a result, it is acceptable, here, to wish for Hamas’s death and incite violence against them but speech to incite violence against an Israeli soldier or a Palestinian would not be permitted under our Constitution. The evil editors of the video knew this. That’s why they had to lie about what the Professor said.

        1. It sounds like you know nothing about history or present events.

          What is the perspective of the Palestinians? From the Hamas vantage point, they voted for, they wished the Jews dead. We don’t know who the non-Hamas Palestinians are because they are shot dead when they open their mouths.

          Did you ever think about how the Palestinians got to vote for Hamas? Israel gave them the land and pulled out every Jewish settler. Gazans were free to do what they wished, and what they did was support a terrorist and homicidal dictatorship in Gaza that recently attacked peaceful Israelis having a party, killing 1,200. They mutilated bodies, raped women, and took over 200 people hostage.

          What history is there that you think is lacking?

    2. Seems like pro-Hamas students lie about Professor TURLEY comments. Hamas has been branded a terrorist org and has no place in a civilized world . Should be no room for these radical students on campus.

    3. Free speech simply does not include calls to kill, maim, rob, nor physically attack anyone. It also does not include libeling them.

      Zionism is an international political pathogen disguised as a religious conflict.

      BTW, what the western mass media will not say is that there are Christian Palestinians being murdered.

      1. “Zionism is an international political pathogen”

        You are a pathogen and spread ignorance.

        Christian Palestinians and Christians in the Middle East are killed in many Muslim nations but not in Israel except in self-defense.

  6. Jonathan: You are falling into a predicable pattern. Every time a conservative university professor is disciplined for unprofessional behavior you call that an attack on “free speech”. And why is it that all of those you defend are all white males. I can’t believe there is not one female deserving of your attention. A topic of another discussion.

    So now it’s USC economics professor John Strauss who decided to confront students who protesting Israel’s genocidal treatment of the Gaza Palestinians. I use “genocidal” because the IDF has killed over 12,000 innocent civilians–women and children, bombed Gaza into oblivion (resembling Dresden during WW11). It’s a form of “collective punishment” for the acts of a few. That’s a violation of the laws of war and international humanitarian law. It’s like the Warsaw ghetto uprising when Jewish fighters rose up and fought their Nazi occupiers. In retaliation German troops bombed the ghetto and Jews were rounded up and sent to concentration camps were they died. In an ironic twist it is now Israel that is pretty much doing the same thing. Gaza has always been an open air “concentration camp”–a small strip of land where all the borders are controlled by Israel. No Palestinian can leave Gaza without the approval of IDF. Palestinians in Gaza cannot freely travel to the West bank or outside the country. We should not be surprised that periodically Gazans rebel against their inhuman treatment.

    But back to professor Strauss. After his second encounter with the protestors he said: “I’m Jewish. I’m very pro-Israel. And so I yelled out ‘Israel forever. Hamas are murders!'”. Strauss has strong feelings. He apparently has no sympathy for the plight of innocent Palestinians. USC has disciplined Strauss–putting him on paid leave and forcing him to teach via Zoom. Not exactly draconian punishment. In the end I don’t think Strauss will be fired. After everything cools down he will go back to his classes. Unless, FIRE steps in and tries to make Strauss another conservative victim of viewpoint discrimination and files a federal lawsuit.

    Now you claim that Hamas “is legally, factually, and morally a terrorist organization”. Netanyahu makes the same claim calling Hamas “barbarians”. The US and the European Union, who have backed Israel for decades, have made the same claim. But many countries don’t share that view and the UN has never declared Hamas a “terrorist organization”. That undercuts your claim.

    1. “a small strip of land where all the borders are controlled by Israel.” Except for the portion of the border controlled by Egypt. Why isn’t Egypt also guilty of forming a concentration camp?

    2. What innocent Gazan Arabs are you speaking about? Hamas barbarians weren’t the only ones raping, torturing and kidnapping Jews and others from southern Israel. There is no “genocide” of Gazan Arabs. And 15K “innocents” killed? Where do you get that fake stat? From the same oozing slime that claimed 500 killed when Israel destroyed a hospital which turned out to be a complete hoax?

      Hamas wants all Jews worldwide dead. For a start. What makes you believe YOU are safe from them? Your tongue-bathing of terrorists?

    3. “But many countries don’t share that view and the UN has never declared Hamas a “terrorist organization”. That undercuts your claim.”

      Quite the argument… Turley is undercut because Turkmenistan hasn’t declared Hamas a terrorist organization. Yet you point out that the most prominent countries of the western world… the US, EU, and Israel regard it as a “terrorist organization”. I want want what you’re smoking!

    4. Dennis, the claims of casualties in Gaza are announced by the governement there, which is Hamas. I shouldn’t believe them if I were you.

    5. Long comment short, you are not in support of free speech and see it as an outdated ‘white’ thing. You believe that free speech should not exist. All of your viewpoints are motivated by the typical racial, societal, and cultural hate that all of you leftists have for humanity.

    6. When you watch the actual coverage of the palestine people they do not want to leave gaza because they obviously hate israel. We even have the haters in our government!

    7. What you have just told the world is that you can’t tell the difference between good and evil. You can’t tell the difference between those who wish to live in peace and those whose mission in life is to carry out terror.
      My guess is that you would be the first to condemn someone using a gun to defend their family from a vicious criminal breaking into his home.

    8. You are apparently unaware of history. IN 1947 the UN passed a resolution recommending the adoption and implementation of a plan of partition of Mandatory Palestine was one of the earliest acts of the United Nations. Arabs turned it down. Israel declared the state of Israel and the territory was basically that outlined by the UN. The British mandate ended and the Arabs declared war. On 11 December 1948, Resolution 194 reiterated the UN’s claim on Jerusalem and resolved in paragraph 11 “that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date”. This resolution, accepted immediately by Israel, is the foundation of the claim of a Palestinian right of return. The Arab states initially opposed this resolution then accepted. In 1967 Egypt attacked Israel. Arabs lost and the war created more refugees. Then you had Camp David and Arabs started the Intifada. Arafat turned down peace. Then more war by Arabs that they lost. Israel has Arabs in government. The Arabs created the refugee problem and have done nothing to try to resolve it. They elected Hamas to run their government which has been propped up by foreign aid. Hamas deserves everything they get. In a war, innocents are killed. The German voted in the Nazis and got what they deserved. Hamas is the modern day Nazi party and Islam is causing this. This professor was stating the obvious and and brainwashing by CAIR and the universities is causing university conflicts and assaults on free speech, not the fact that this professor is white

    9. There are very few innocent ‘Palestinians’. In fact fewer than 1 in a 1000. Those ‘innocent Palestinians’ you speak of celebrated in the streets and danced for joy on the afternoon of October 7. And some women and children left Gaza and went into the homes of the people who were attacked and murdered by Hamas and looted and ransacked.
      Ugh Dennis, as usual you’re weirdly off base.

  7. Typical of our current left wing indoctrination centers. This professor sounded like one of the more intelligent teachers on campus, but these dopey kids are too brainwashed now by the rest of the commie profs. I retired early as a university administrator to get away from this insanity. They are a complete disgrace.

  8. Pretty incredible what today’s privileged little know-it-alls can “demand” of their universities these days. And all of this drama because a professor had the audacity to say that the Hamas terrorists, who beheaded and burned infants on October 7th, should be killed. Welcome to communist Amerika……

  9. Continued harping about the egregious state of our media/education industries in America will only provide commentators a generous income but will not solve our problems. Strangling the money flowing to academia would be a good first start since THAT is the only way you can forcibly remove all the communist/progressive/insane actors currently living the good life at taxpayer’s expense. We all know exactly the deplorable state of academia and the media, yet all we do is talk about it. How about each and every alumni and/or benefactor to academia just withdraw their patronage until the garbage and infestations have been removed, then we can talk more about the outrageous situations that the right has allowed to fester for decades. Hold yourselves accountable if all you do is talk but still patronize business that support woke agendas or contribute campaign donations to those who do not have the bravery to take a stand in halls of government, whether at the town hall level or in the Senate of the US government.

    1. @whimsicalmama

      I agree – and I would include alumni donors for whom idiotic ‘tradition’ is more important than facing reality. I suppose we could also heap some blame on Obama for pounding it into people’s heads that a bachelor’s degree is a modern equivalent to a high school diploma (when in fact, in 2023 neither of those things are equal to an eighth grade education 60 years ago) and that simply having some letters after your name will magically transform into a six figure salary the day after you graduate. There is indeed a great deal of talk around a great many of these issues, yet voter numbers remain abysmal in many places and people still insist on party lines out of imaginary bugaboos and prejudice. This has created a golden opportunity at the polls too, the organized swarms of the ignorant products of these institutions really don’t have a whole lot of competition voting day, and increasingly, in the workplace. in fact, regarding the latter, one is far more likely to be passed over or fired for being too old, and these days that is whenever the first gray hair makes it’s appearance.

      1. One of the latest indicators of just how “programable” these empty noggins are for these generation x types is the move of young women to become muslims. I doubt any of them even begin to understand just what an islamic lifestyle would be for them, yet they are revved up and pointed in that direction in order to cause cultural chaos in the hopes of destroying western civilization. I just wish all these young puddin-heads of both sexes could experience life in the islamic world and I also wish the islamic world could experience life without all the concurrent benefits that are the products of millennia of western culture. Perhaps 2x4s to their heads may be the only way to get their attention to the peril that they are marching towards.

        1. @whimsicalmama

          I saw that too. These young, non-Arab Western women willingly donning the hijab tells us it is the height of idiotic cosplay for them, and an insult to anyone that has actually risen above persecution. We have entire generations of young people running headlong into the arms of what they claim to hate.

          All of the progress of the hard earned gains of the 20th century are being systematically erased. These kids suffered few ills growing up and missed out on the action of real struggle and the movements that turned the tide, so they manufacture crises out of their boredom and mediocrity so they have something to fight that doesn’t seem like their own boring brain, the actual tormentor. And they expect adoration and a fat salary for their ‘bravery’.

          1. I wonder whether what these women are saying is that the rest of the culture needs more structure and boundaries and clarity in people’s roles and interactions. They’ve swung too far in the other direction I think, but I think their response is understandable considering the absurd anything-goes, unstable environment we are in now.

      2. “I would include alumni donors . . .”

        And corporate donors. They are some of the worst offenders. They are supporting the ideas that lead to their own, and this country’s, destruction.

    2. “Hold yourselves accountable if all you do is talk but still patronize business that support woke agendas or contribute campaign donations to those who do not have the bravery to take a stand in halls of government, whether at the town hall level or in the Senate of the US government.”

      You’ll have to make or grow nigh on everything for yourself. Pretty much every business is captured.

      Best go start taking a sharp eye to those halls of government. If they won’t be brave, someone needs to show them the way.

  10. Vincente: “would it not be more appropriate for USC to censure those who did the deceptive edits and the malicious posting?”

    Censure? No. Expel and deport, Yes.

  11. The Leftist Indoctrination Entities (aka LIES, formerly called “college” and “universities”) must provide a safe space for their Neo-Nazis and other barbaric students to protect them from the Civilized population, who insist on promoting such oppressive concepts as human decency.

  12. Demonstrations in support of an entity whose base level of moral depravity is beyond description speaks to the moral compass of those participants, whether they be foreign or domestic in the moral, ethical, and spiritual values of the cultures they represent. As example, Congress had best clean its own House of its wretched refuse and, as well, should the constituents they represent.

  13. USC later said that he could teach both classes, but only remotely.

    That’s not the move of an administration that believes he violated any school policy. It’s a move to protect the professor and the campus from the inevitable hostile actions by Leftists.

    1. ” It’s a move to protect the professor and the campus “

      This move is proof the left is violent, and peaceful people will bend to the will of the violent. That means Universities have to deal directly with the problems to prevent violence from starting. Look at how planned unit developments protect their residents and act similarly.

      Laws can prevent some measures, but with foreseeable violence increasing, universities can take action based on the existing threats.

      Unfortunately, it is the administrators of these universities that are the problem.

      1. S Meyer: You missed the important part of Turley’s post–his link to a YouTube video that shows there was no violence when Prof. Strauss confronted the USC students who were peacefully protesting Israel’s bombing of Gaza. But you bizarrely claim that incident is “proof the left is violent”. No, the video clearly shows there was no violence! So when are you going to stop believing your lying eyes?

        1. “S Meyer: You missed the important part of Turley’s post”

          I think the most important part is that the left is violent and tries to intimidate others with their violence. That the left isn’t violent in one specific instance is meaningless as there are so many where violence is in play intimidating others.

          You would like to portray the Gaza riots as peaceful. Many are not and such actions lead to destruction, injury, and death (as already proven). That should be expected as Hamas, which the Gaza riots are supporting was violent killing 1,200 people in one day. Those people included women and children, Hamas was subhuman and disgraced all Gazans who would like to live in peace.

  14. “The move is part of a disturbing trend limiting free speech on campuses.”

    Speaking of “limiting free speech,” here’s my Tuesday, November 21 Free-Speech-Is-A-Fantasy journal:

    Well the last 24 hours started out poorly for me. First I got suspended from Musk’s FAKE “X/formerly known as Twitter” crapsite for posting a tweet telling Jeb DeSantis to “Drop Dead” in reply to one of his REALLY STUPID, anti-Trump tweets, with Twitter/X explaining to me that what I posted was a “death threat” as opposed to being what it IS — a simple, time-tested statement of unvarnished contempt such as “get bent” or “go screw yourself” — intentionally taken out of context by Musk’s minions at Twitter, probably because Musk backs Jeb DeSantis, so they’ve tightened scrutiny concerning tweets telling the truth, that DeSantis is a LIAR, a FRAUD, a MORON, and worst of all, a PAID PUPPET of notorious anti-Trumper, Rupert Murdoch. 

    I know — don’t say it — maybe they thought I was talking about Professor Turley. But what the MORONS at Gomer Musk’s FAKE X/Twitter site don’t know is that I only criticize Turley at his own site, and don’t go around badmouthing him elsewhere because that’s just not good manners.

    Anyway, then I came to Turley’s crapsite — hoping to rebegin the day — when I read the earlier article about Representative Goldman and was amused at the way the Professor snuck in an unabashed plug for his book — “It was what I call ‘rage rhetoric’ in my book The Indispensable Right.”

    So I thought I’d join in the amusement by posting a plug for MY book, which I won’t repeat here even though I think my plug was a LOT funnier and more-honest than Turley’s plug (and I’m certain that I could use the money from book sales more than Turley needs it). And after all, the holidays are coming, and if you can’t sneak in a PT Barnum-like plug for your own book just ahead of the holidays, when CAN you? But my plug was blocked and not posted here, probably because it’s unquestionably “the most dangerous book ever written,” as one reviewer called it (and I had to pay him to write that — and that’s 5 bucks I’ll never get back).

    But finally things began to turn around, as I just read elsewhere — and it’s a SHAME that I had to go elsewhere to read this — about a poll indicating that Trump already has TWICE as many delegates as he needs to snag the republican presidential nomination, and the even-better news, that Jeb DeSantis has fallen behind not just Trump but the ONE person in the republican race — Nikki Haley — who’s an even bigger fraud than Jeb DeSantis or FatBoy Crisco Christie — which is far more-devastating to giant FRAUD/Murdoch puppet Jeb DeSantis than my “Drop Dead” remark or my presence at Musk’s FAKE X/Twitter scam.

    1. Dear Anonymous,
      You deserve what you believe should happen to all who support the Constitution. “Drop…”

    2. I have had 2 accounts roached from X and i’m now banned. my last post said that all the government officials who are aiding and abetting criminal illegal aliens into this country should be tried for treason and if found guilty hanged in public.

  15. Psst – ‘faculty’, though certainly with exceptions, are mainly under 35, even under 30 in many cases, and if anyone expects the progressive contingent of those cohorts to behave like sensible adults -> 😂😂😂

    Is it really any wonder that the generations who have never had an independent thought or taken an independent action on their own behalf or for others or provided anything for themselves are drawn to totalitarianism? Or that when they finally decide they should do those things it involves crowded rooms, innocent bystanders, yelling and/or weapons? Those are a four-year old’s instincts kicking in decades too late.

    1. If the video that incited this response to Professor Strauss was deceptively edited byUSC students and then transmitted, would it not be more appropriate forUSC to censure those who did the deceptive edits and the malicious posting?

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