A Fresno State history professor became the target of a Breitbart article Saturday after a tweet displayed the professor’s apparent dislike of President Donald Trump.
The article, shared on Twitter by the official Breitbart News account, suggests “universities across the country are now viewed with disdain,” in response to Professor Lars Maischak’s comments on Twitter.
Maischak, who teaches American history according to his Twitter bio and according to the Fresno State faculty directory, tweeted Feb. 17 that “to save American democracy, Trump must hang. The sooner and the higher, the better.”
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Maischak said Saturday evening that he does not condone violence and has no intention of becoming violent. “From the context of the entirety of my tweets, this should be evident to anyone reading them in good faith (as opposed to malicious intent),” he said in an email.
He said the Breitbart article displays his tweets out of context and describes the notoriety he has gotten as a “character assassination.” Maischak said he has received a lot of hate mail, but it hasn’t deterred him from wanting to speak his mind.
“The function of articles like the one produced by Breitbart and affiliates is to whip up a digital lynch-mob of people sending threats and insults to my email and Twitter accounts, with the ultimate goal of silencing dissenters,” he said.
The story on Breitbart News’ website had received nearly 500 comments from readers by 3 p.m. Saturday, many suggesting Maischak be fired.
Fresno State released a statement on behalf of President Joseph Castro on Saturday evening: “Statements made on his personal social media accounts are his alone and are not endorsed by nor reflect the position of the University.”
Maischak said, “Since I keep my private views clearly separate from my teaching, I doubt anyone would find cause to question my professional performance, or my suitability for my job.”
The Breitbart article seemed to focus on the “hang” part of Maischak’s comment – readers took the comment as a threat to the president. But Maischak said he’s not a threat. “What Breitbart meant people to take away, and what they have taken away, is that I advocated for the assassination of Trump.
“I am not about to attempt to strangulate anyone, now or ever,” Maischak said.
Maischak’s tweet was in a quoting of a retweet, in which an image lists the names of past dictators accused of discrediting media and shows a large image of Trump on the same picture – the caption of that tweet is “The Dictators’ Club.”
Two other tweets the article highlights from the professor’s account includes one from March 3, in which Maischak suggests that “Christianity is paying the price for its pact with fascism.” Another tweet, from March 8, states: “ ‘The law’ in this country is one part racism, one part class oppression, all capitalism.”
Last year Breitbart News, a right-wing syndicated news and opinion website, also took note of Fresno State’s student newspaper after it compared then-Republican presidential candidate Trump to Adolf Hitler in an editorial.