Opinion

Confronting A Professor About His Plan To Obstruct Justice Over DACA

I was enjoying some time off from political writing when an email marked “urgent” came across my phone from a friend of mine. The email contained a series of tweets, some from a Drexel University professor, that suggest plans are underway to organize and activate a force to physically prevent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials’ efforts to make deportations of illegal aliens.

I reached out to that professor, George Ciccariello, to understand why he plans to take an active role in obstructing justice by blocking ICE vans and building “rapid response networks.” I’m not sure exactly what that looks like, which is why I reached out directly to him for comment.

Unsurprisingly, Ciccariello chose a defiant, callous response to my genuine interest in his cause. His reply was simple — he “[doesn’t] speak to mercenaries.”

Mercenaries are paid some type of material reward in exchange for their efforts in a cause, regardless of moral, ethical or legal consequences. I am not paid by any person, company or group for my political writing, so that just doesn’t make sense.

After a bit of media digging on Ciccariello, I learned that he considers himself a radical political theorist, and in December of 2016 he told the world he is an “actual communist.” Also in December of 2016 — on Christmas Eve — media outlets report that he tweeted he wanted white genocide for Christmas.

Drexel’s choice to employ an “actual communist” to teach despite his controversial and sometimes violent statements on social media is questionable, but my issue lies with Ciccariello himself. He is a known supporter of a group called Antifa, which many states consider a domestic terror group, and has a history of violence against conservatives, Trump supporters, police, police animals and journalists.

Just a few days ago he told The Inquirer that Antifa’s approach is “an openly confrontational perspective to go on the offensive against Nazis.” I can’t be sure unless Ciccariello comments, but based on his clear love for the group, it would not surprise me if he enlisted Antifa as a partner in his planned crimes against ICE agents.

When I was in college I looked up to professors and trusted them. I was liberal then, so their adoration of President Obama and hatred of all things conservative was music to my ears. As I’ve grown and leaned further right, I’m learning that some professors can be dangerous, and I’m beginning to feel that Ciccariello could be one of them.

Ciccariello’s refusal to answer my questions leaves me no choice but to question if he is pulling his radical ideas into the classroom or not. I will give him the benefit of the doubt and hope that he teaches objectively and encourages free thought.

The friend that put the issue in my inbox is none other than Scott Presler, who continues his efforts toward flipping 10 congressional seats from blue to red in 2018 and a securing a second term for President Trump, but made a pit stop on this issue, asking me to help get this story told.

Today its tweets about his plans, tomorrow it could be assaults on ICE agents — we won’t know until Ciccariello’s words turn into actions and that’s where my worry lies. His tweets have already incited others to tweet about setting fire to ICE vans and slash three out of four tires to avoid insurance replacing them.

It is vitally important that anyone who plans to protest the president’s DACA decision or protest deportations in general do so peacefully, which is the main reason I returned from hiatus to reach out to this professor.

Ciccariello’s tweets have already incited and inspired violence, so I urge anyone that knows people planning on joining his cause to think twice. I am worried that someone will bring a deadly weapon, perhaps a blade intending to slash ICE van tires like the tweets suggest, and things may escalate and someone might get hurt or killed.

A Hotbed of Leftist Violence

Philadelphia has a notoriously violent chapter of Antifa, and not long ago a notorious Northeast Philadelphia Trump supporter named Howard Caplan needed six staples to close a head wound inflicted by the group after they caught him holding a sign supporting President Trump.

A Philadelphia woman named Lisa Joy Simon, protesting the ACT for America “March Against Sharia” with Antifa, struck a police horse in the neck with a flag pole in a bizarre and frightening fit of rage against authority. I was at the New York City rally on the same day, where Antifa failed to drown out speeches by Laura Loomer, Chadwick Moore and Gavin McInnes and others with their kazoos, whistles and pots and pans.

Our ICE agents and law enforcement groups have my full support, and if they have to act to protect the public or themselves in a manner in which a violent protester is subdued by force or unfortunately has to be met with more aggressive action, so be it. ICE agents are enforcing the law, and trying to stop them physically is obstructing justice, plain and simple.

I hope Ciccariello will reconsider his choice not to comment on the matter and clarify his intentions, but regardless, we will all be watching closely how this unfolds over the next few weeks. Presler and I are both currently blocked on Twitter by Ciccariello, who clearly has an issue with speaking to those with opposing views — awfully bigoted if you ask me.

James Merse is a healthcare communications professional from Northern New Jersey and teaches communication courses at community colleges. Follow him on Twitter: @JamesMerse