Clemson University Assistant Professor Bart Knijnenburg’s inflammatory comments should enrage our state and the nation as a whole. “All trump supporters, nay, all Republicans, are racist scum,” Knijnenburg wrote on Facebook, adding: “I admire anyone who stands up against white supremacy. Violent or non-violent. This needs to stop, by any means necessary. #PunchNazis.”
In other posts, Knijnenburg equated Trump, Trump voters and the GOP with Nazis, the KKK and the alt-right, labeling them “All racists.”
Many Clemson students are conservatives, who also support the Republican Party. Not only has Knijnenburg smeared the character of his students, he has implicitly threatened them with physical violence. He has broken that special bond that must exist between professors and students. What Republican students can take Knijnenburg’s classes without fear of being ridiculed, censored or handed poor grades on account of their ideology?
Let’s be clear: Knijnenburg’s comments are immoral, and they have no place in an institution of higher learning. Let’s also remember that S.C. taxpayers pay Knijnenburg’s annual salary and benefits, which exceed $100,000.
Many in the Clemson community have demanded that Professor Knijnenburg be terminated immediately. Some people have created an online petition calling for his ouster. Even a state senator has demanded his firing, threatening to pull taxpayer funding from the university if he remains.
How has Clemson responded to pleas to fire or censure a professor who implicitly advocates violence against his own students? The short answer is that it hasn’t.
The only action taken by the university so far is an anemic blog post that didn’t even identify Knijnenburg by name or employment status, labeling him, “an individual,” whose views, “evoked disappointment, concern and outrage from many members of the Clemson family.”
Equally shocking is the utter silence of the Clemson faculty.
In January of 2015, more than 100 faculty and staff sponsored a full-page ad in Clemson’s student newspaper demanding that the administration “prosecute criminally predatory behaviors and defamatory speech committed by members of the Clemson University community (including, but not limited to, those facilitated by usage of social media).”
Where are these professors and administrators now? Why haven’t they condemned Professor Knijnenburg’s hate-filled rhetoric?
Why hasn’t the Clemson Faculty Senate moved to censure Professor Knijnenburg?
More importantly, why hasn’t the Clemson administration acted?
If the administration won’t act to defend students from threats of violence, who will? Perhaps Clemson parents, alumni, state legislators and taxpayers will do the job of Clemson administrators and faculty.