The University of Southern California appears to be standing by a professor who questioned the Holocaust by saying “professors can say whatever they want.”
That comment was provided to Truth Revolt by Carl Marziali, USC Assistant Vice President of Media Relations, after calls were made to the Dean’s Office over tweets sent out by Alireza Tabatabaeenejad, a researcher and assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering. Those comments were first reported on by Truth Revolt.
The comments made by Tabatabaeenejad appear to be in violation of USC's rules of conduct laid out in their Faculty Handbook.
Tabatabaeenejad responded to a tweet by Wall Street Journal editorial page writer Sohrab Ahmari on Iran’s Holocaust denial cartoon contest by asking what is "anti-moderation" about holding such a contest.
Past incarnations of this contest have ridiculed the idea of the Holocaust happening and compared Israel's security measures, such as the building of a wall, to Nazi concentration camps.
Throughout Wednesday afternoon, Tabatabaeenejad engaged on Twitter in various discussions questioning how many people died in the Holocaust and whether Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism were the same thing.
@NoahPollak I really don't know. I should read about it. Why?— Alireza Taba (@alirezat) April 8, 2015
@NoahPollak Logically, I cannot say "antisemitism" and "denial of the Holocaust" are necessarily equivalent.— Alireza Taba (@alirezat) April 8, 2015
While some may dismiss the comments as simply the opinion of one professor on Twitter, they appear to violate USC's strict code for ant-discrimination and harassment.
Section 6-A (5) of USC’s Faculty Handbook forbids discrimination based upon, among other things, “race, color, national origin, citizenship, ancestry, religion.” It further defines forbidden conduct as including disparaging comments.
No faculty or staff member may take actions that are harassing, abusive, or intimidating against anyone based on any protected characteristic, as defined in Section 6-A (5), or commit actions that adversely affect another because of a protected characteristic. Such conduct may include, but is not limited to, the following examples, if a reasonable person would have perceived them as objectively offensive, and with due respect for the protection of academic freedom as discussed in Section 6-A (3):
• Disparaging and unwelcome racial or ethnic remarks, or disparaging and unwelcome racial or ethnic slurs, jokes, or epithets;
Repeated calls and emails to USC for a full statement were not answered by the time we published.
Professor Tabatabaeenejad describes himself on Twitter as “Research Professor @USC | #Tehran Native, #AnnArbor Lover | Tweets in English and Persian, Mostly on #Iran”
Hours after the original article first appeared and after USC had been asked for official comment they tweeted a reply to Truth Revolt Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro.
This article has been updated.