UNIVERSITY CITY (WTXF) - A Pennsylvania college professor took to Twitter to express that he wanted to "vomit" after an airline passenger gave up their first-class seat for a uniformed member of the armed forces.
Drexel University Professor George Ciccariello-Maher, who was criticized last Christmas for saying the only gift he wanted was "white genocide", said he wanted to "yell about Mosul" when he saw the act of kindness on the plane.
"Some guy gave up his first-class seat for a uniformed soldier. People are thanking him," Ciccariello-Maher tweeted, "I'm trying not to vomit or yell about Mosul."
Mosul is an Iraqi city seen as the last major ISIS stronghold in the region. Iraqi troops, with the support of U.S. forces, are trying to oust ISIS from the city.
He locked his Twitter account in the face of bitter backlash from the public, telling Carlson, “Sometimes you need to protect your Twitter feed from people who go on and on about free speech, but decide to violently threaten people who are using that free speech."
A Drexel University sophomore has started a petition drive urging the university to fire the controversial professor who insulted the military in a recent tweet.
Brett Long says he started the drive on change.org Thursday night, asking that professor George Ciccariello-Maher be relieved of his duties at the University City school.
"I'm still shocked that a professor at Drexel with such an accepting environment would say anything like that," Long told FOX 29's Bruce Gordon.
FOX 29 reached out to Ciccariello-Maher for comment. Ciccariello provided the below statement.
"Two days after U.S. airstrikes incinerated an estimated 200 civilians in the Iraqi city of Mosul, I sent a personal tweet in reaction to what I considered a smug and self-congratulatory gesture by a first-class passenger toward a uniformed soldier. Maybe predictably, my tweet has since been fed into and misrepresented by the outrage machine that is right-wing media. Needless to say, my personal views expressed off-campus have absolutely nothing to do with those of my employer, Drexel University.
I respect anyone who makes difficult and dangerous decisions out of economic necessity -- whether they are public school teachers, construction workers, economic migrants, or young soldiers. What I don't respect is a brutal invasion and occupation of Iraq that has not made our world any safer -- a war that has taken advantage of economically disadvantaged Americans, a war that has given the world ISIS, and a war that has wrought carnage like that seen in Mosul and elsewhere.
The best way to support troops is not with symbolic gestures and first-class seats, but by bringing them home safely, by ensuring that women in uniform are not subjected to what is an epidemic of sexual assault, and by providing dignified medical and psychological care. Those who today claim to demand respect for the troops show little in the way of respect for how they are treated in and out of the military."
Ciccariello-Maher appeared on Tucker Carlson's Fox News Channel program Thursday night and explained his tweet was a shot at the war, not the warrior.
"I think it's really irresponsible to blindly support, for example, wars that send young people into combat, risk their lives- kill many others as we've seen in Mosul," he said.
A spokesperson for Drexel University released the following statement regarding Ciccariello-Maher's tweets.
"The recent social media comments by George Ciccariello-Maher, Associate Professor of Politics and Global Studies at Drexel, were made outside the classroom, are his own opinion and do not represent the University’s views. Drexel is committed to and vigorously supports our ROTC students, student veterans and alumni who have served in the military. Our support for student veterans has helped us create an inclusive campus culture that honors service and Drexel’s deep connection to American military history."