A tenured history professor at Rutgers University has been found guilty of violating the school's policy on harassment and discrimination, after posting to Facebook earlier this summer about the "little Caucasian assholes" overrunning his Harlem neighborhood and his desire to "resign from my race."
According to a 10-page investigation, James Livingston's social media comments inflicted reputational damage to the university, and were "clearly insulting and degrading to Caucasians." While Livingston—and others—have argued that there is no such thing as racism against white people, the investigation ultimately determined that "'reverse racism,' to the extent it is defined as treating someone unfairly because they are white, is indeed possible and prohibited."
Attempting to underscore this point, the report then notes that Livingston's "inflammatory racial commentary" would be more clearly offensive were he talking about other minority groups. It would not be permissible, for example, to blame black children for gentrifying Harlem or to accuse Muslim families of colonizing restaurants—and therefore saying the same thing about white people is also racist, according to the report. The investigation was initiated by Carolyn Dellatore, the Associate Director at the Office of Employment Equity at Rutgers, who is white.
A copy of the investigation was first shared by Livingston with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education [FIRE], which is calling on the university to reverse its decision. Violating the university policy allows for disciplinary action "up to and including discharge"—though Livingston's punishment has not yet been announced.
In a letter sent to Rutgers on Monday, FIRE Director of Litigation Marieke Tuthill Beck-Coon wrote, "By capitulating to anonymous outrage generated by an internet mob, Rutgers has shamefully betrayed its obligation to its faculty and the public, trivialized actual harassment, and signaled to would-be censors nationwide that its faculty may be silenced at will and without resistance."
The group also noted that targeted harassment against college faculty is on the rise, pointing to a recent report on the trend by the American Association of University Professors. The group cites the Professor Watchlist as a driving factor in this uptick, which seeks to identify professors who "advance leftist propaganda in the classroom."
The comments were first reported by the Daily Caller, a right-wing tabloid. Soon after, both Livingston and Rutgers began receiving death threats, most of them by neo-Nazis and members of the alt-right, according to the professor. Livingston says he's received roughly 200 hate emails, in which he's accused of being a "race traitor," a "racist f--kstain" and a "n----r lover."
It was that racist, media-driven mob to which Rutgers capitulated, according to Livingston and FIRE. The civil liberties group also claims that the guilty verdict could constitute a violation of the professor's First Amendment rights, as well as his academic freedom as a professor.
"Allowing human resource administrators to tell a professor of 30 years what he can and can’t say on Facebook means that the tradition of academic freedom in our public universities is essentially over. I respect that tradition too much not to protest," Livingston said in a statement. "I very much hope the university will see its way to overturning this finding of 'reverse racism' and reaffirming the democratic freedoms that Rutgers has long stood for."
A spokesperson for Rutgers University declined to comment.
You can read the full report below: