After speaking at a pro-Palestinian gathering and describing Hamas’s deadly attack on Israeli civilians as “exhilarating,” Cornell professor Russell Rickford provoked an uproar.
According to his Twitter bio, Rickford is a “Historian of the Black Radical Tradition,” an associate history professor who has previously expressed radical left-wing beliefs.
“Hamas has challenged the monopoly of violence,” Rickford said. “And in those first few hours, even as horrific acts were being committed, many of which we would learn about later, there are many Gazans of good will, many Palestinians of conscience, who abhor violence, as do you, as do I,” who, like you and me, detest the targeting of civilians,” Rickford stated at the gathering.
Whoever was able to breathe was doing so for the first time in a long time. It gave me a rush. It gave me energy. And they wouldn’t be humans if they weren’t thrilled by this challenge to the monopoly of violence, by this tipping of the scales. I felt ecstatic.
What has Hamas done, he continued? The balance of power has been altered by Hamas. Hamas has shattered the false sense of security. They have acted in this manner.
You don’t have to embrace Hamas to understand that, Rickford remarked. “Hamas has altered the debate’s parameters. The Israeli government is correct; nothing will ever be the same again. Rickford released a quick clarification following the revelation of his words, reiterating his position.
“I was referring to those first hours of tearing down the apartheid wall, which appears to symbolize resistance and a new phase in the Palestinian people’s struggle,” he said.
In response to these statements, the university’s president, Martha Pollack, said, “The heinous acts resulted in the loss of innocent lives, creating enormous anguish and questioning our core concept of humanity. Terrorism is defined as the deliberate targeting and death of unarmed citizens. Pollack did not specify if the professor would face any repercussions.