Note: we are republishing this story amid a nationwide conversation about race and racial justice in America.
The University of Cambridge backed one of its faculty members after she received a barrage of abusive comments and death threats after she tweeted, “White Lives Don't Matter.”
51-year-old Dr. Priyamvada Gopal, a member of the Faculty of English at Churchill College, tweeted on Tuesday: “I'll say it again. White Lives Don't Matter. As white lives.”
The controversial statement - which was deleted by Twitter - sparked outrage, with many people sending her death threats and racist abuse both privately and publicly.
The tweet also led to the launch of a change.org petition titled “Fire Cambridge Professor for Racism” on Wednesday, demanding she be fired by the university because of the tweet.
Dr. Gopal shared some of the messages she received, including from a man who sent her a photo of a noose with the message: “We are coming for you you n***er loving piece of s*it.”
Dr. Gopal, also a journalist and activist, stated on Wednesday night that she had been promoted to full Professorship.
“I would also like to make clear I stand by my tweets, now deleted by Twitter, not me. They were very clearly speaking to a structure and ideology, not about people,” she added. “My Tweet said whiteness is not special, not a criterion for making lives matter. I stand by that.”
The Russel Group University defended Dr. Gopal and slammed the deplorable messages she received following her tweet.
In its statement, the university said: “The University defends the right of its academics to express their own lawful opinions, which others might find controversial. [It] deplores in the strongest terms abuse and personal attacks. These attacks are totally unacceptable and must cease.”
The Cambridge branch of the University and College Union (UCU) also expressed its support.
“Solidarity with Priyamvada Gopal - being targeted with vile sexist and racist abuse for speaking up against white supremacists. We are proud to be your colleagues both on the picket line and off it. BlackLivesMatterSolidarity,” the union wrote.
Many of her colleagues and students also expressed their support, with popular comedian Nish Kumar going as far as to call her “one of the best and brightest around.”
However, some have called the university’s support of Dr. Gopal inconsistent and politically biased, pointing out to the recent removal of Noah Carl from his research position at St. Edmund's college following links to far right extremist groups.
Others pointed out the rescinded visiting fellowship invitation to controversial professor Jordan Peterson last year.
Critics of the university's stance maintained that the same free speech defense and tolerance of controversial views was not applied in these instances.
Sources: Daily Mail