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Trinity College professor tweets 'Whiteness is terrorism,' criticizes Obamas

Neil Vigdor, The Hartford Courant on

Published in News & Features

"Absolutely nothing should happen to Professor Williams," Nesbitt said in a text message Tuesday. "In my opinion freedom of speech, thoughts, and expression, our absolute. Although I think Twitter is not the most efficient place for this kind of in depth conversation, I do think different opinions must be welcome -- and, in fact, are welcome at a liberal arts school like Trinity. Students must be encouraged to think outside their comfort zone, and to discuss, in a civil manner, differing viewpoints."

Nesbitt said quashing a discussion about race isn't the solution.

"Regardless of whether I personally agree or not, conversations like this must happen ... (another close relative of mine went to a different New England liberal arts school, and any conversation that went away from the prevailing beliefs of most college students today was immediately shut down," Nesbitt said. "I do not believe this is healthy for a liberal arts institution, or our country."

Williams said he is not anti-white and that he is trying to get people to think about the oppression of African Americans, which can be a provocative topic. He said his tweets were not in response to Sunday's deadly Easter terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka or any other specific incident.

"Whiteness breeds terrorism, the exploitation of other people's bodies and minds for profit," Williams said. "It's academic freedom. That's the role of a professor to try to help students see their complicity and collusion with white racism."

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, a Derby Republican, the top Republican female office holder in the Connecticut Legislature and a 1987 Trinity College graduate, blasted Williams' social media comments.

 

"This is hate speech, plain and simple," Klarides said. "It is a toxic. It is polarizing and it is not anything we need in this country, particularly in this day and age."

Klarides said she is all for sharing dissenting viewpoints in a college setting, but that Williams has crossed a line.

"I've spoken to the president there. Their answer is, 'he's a tenured professor and free speech,' " Klarides said. "It's a cycle of vicious language. You're supposed to be shaping their lives."

Williams said his comments are being taken out of context by those "just looking to get rid of black intellectuals" at Trinity College.

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