Professor told ‘we’ll slit your throat in the middle of the night’ after posting anti-Trump tweet
Kevin Allred has been sent death threats for posting about Trump
A professor who was fired for posting an anti-Trump tweet has spoken out to describe the death threats he has received.
Kevin Allred, an academic about to start a teaching position at Montclair State, tweeted earlier this week: "Trump is a fucking joke. This is all a sham. I wish someone would just shoot him outright."
It sparked outrage among the perpetually-outraged Fox News crowd, and ultimately let to Allred's firing. Today in an interview with The Tab he described the last two days – and being on the receiving end of right-wing ire.
Has there been any particular kind of backlash for your tweet?
A lot of name calling. I don't even see being called a leftist or a Marxist that bad of a name! But a lot of use of the word "faggot" seems to be a major thing. A lot of death threats. "We'll slit your throat in the middle of the night, die scum," a lot of that. They're so mad at you for allegedly inciting violence but then what the public doesn't see is the violence they throw back at you through your email or Twitter. That's why I had to shut it down for a little bit yesterday, so they couldn't message me anymore. "If you don't like the country then leave," was a favorite. But nobody took their own advice when Obama was president. They're still here!
There is no shortage of people on the right who are mad online at any given moment. What do you make of this trend of censoring professors?
It didn't start when Trump was elected, but ever since November there has been a huge surge in these really big, publicized cases. And I guess I make up two of them. I obviously know that tweet is a bit much but it's not a death threat. I didn't phrase it an academic, political critique way. But by the end of the night I was angry and that's what comes out when I can't keep my big mouth shut sometimes. Still, it's protected speech, it's not a direct threat. It's easier to fire adjuncts outright or not rehire them. They're taking a lot of action because right wing students claim to be the victim, they say they don't feel safe at schools anymore, and the university caves to that pressure. I think that's really dangerous territory.
How does that fit in with colleges being about open discussion?
Yeah, I think universities should be places where we can at least have these conversations that are going to be uncomfortable. I teach women's and gender studies, which just by itself makes people uncomfortable because you're talking about all these deep, personal issues. But it's really about thinking critically and preparing you to be in a world where people think differently to you and hopefully not cause harm in that world. Shutting down those conversations while allowing this kind of right wing dangerous discourse to trump everything else, pun intended, is to me as a teacher, scary. I know they say the same thing about me – "Oh, you just teach about Beyonce" – but it's not about that. It's about bigger issues.
Strangely, Montclair says they never made a job offer in the first place. What could they possibly mean?
I thought I was good to go with all the paperwork. They had decided classes, they put my bio up on the website. I still don't know if there was going to be another contract to sign. I asked the office assistant if they needed anything more from me and they said: "No, no it's on us, we'll get back to you." So I guess that's the little loophole they're using, to say it was never offered technically. But it's kind of a shitty loophole to use in my opinion.
Yeah, they're making it seem as if there was never any communication between you and you're pulling all this out of thin air.
Yeah. And today that's what has been bothering me most of all. I know that as an adjunct, it's at-will employment and they have the right to hire me or not hire me for whatever reason. I went through all this with Rutgers, there's not much you can do as an adjunct. There's more you can do on a tenure track, which I wasn't. But I didn't like the statements they were making which make me seem delusional. And the right wing media is already making me out to be delusional. This just adds fuel to that.
I never meant to throw them under the bus by tweeting the other day that they had fired me, I was just trying to say "It worked, you guys can back off – I don't have the job now, leave me alone." But it just made them more mad.
Conversation edited for clarity and length.