A professor at Mount St. Mary’s University is under fire for being present at, and writing an article about, the United States Capitol protest on January 6.
Hochschild was at the rally that day, but did not participate in the Capitol breach.
In an email Sunday night to The College Fix, Hochschild wrote that his piece distinguished “between the protest rally, and the illegal activities of the day, and condemn[ed] the latter.”
His column stated in part:
Scores of thousands of people attend, from all over the country. They are cheerful and patriotic, generous and civic-minded, orderly and polite. Responsible, proud citizens. They love their country and respect its lawful processes. They know that, even if the rally does not actually help Trump politically, it promises to draw attention to problems with our electoral system, and to testify to the importance of peaceful democratic protests. Maybe there will be a resolved will to reform the system, and to ensure that people can trust elections next time. The country can’t keeping having its winners suspected of “stealing” elections. …
It was a protest, and some people apparently took it too far. On the way home, you hear about violence and arrests. Vandalism and thievery in the Capitol building. You hear about a woman, apparently unarmed, shot and killed. It is a sobering, gut-wrenching end to the day. Out of a massive crowd, it seems that a fraction was stupid, shameful, lawless. Hardly representative of the kinds of people who were there, or the purpose for which they gathered. A small fraction of a large civil rights event turned into a lawless mob. You are disheartened that a respectable event should be so stained.
But you wake up the next morning to something far worse. Slanderous headlines. By your very presence in DC, you are accused of being a traitor, part of a dangerous movement. Every outlet is calling it an “insurrection.” The lawlessness was “incited” by Trump. There was a violent attempted “coup.” Obviously they have pushed too far. They will have dial this back. Won’t they? The words are wildly disproportionate: nobody had a strategy or opportunity for seizing power. Oh, and it was a racist insurrection, a manifestation of white nationalism. Despite the sea of American flags, news stories seem to always run a picture of a Confederate flag.
The piece has caused controversy for the professor, prompting a local news report headlined “Students call on Mt. St. Mary’s University professor to resign after he wrote about attending protest that led to uprising at Capitol.”
And a Change.org petition calls for Hochschild’s resignation, alleging his piece glamorized Trump and minimized “the effects of racism, xenophobia, and misogyny, while making the argument that such views will fail to impact presidential policies.”
The petition, by Brea Purdie, states:
I find it repulsive that Hochschild calls for respectability and humanity when the actions of Trump supporters on January 6 proved to be less than that. I find it telling that he asks for decency when there are prominent white supremacists rubbing elbows at the same event as he, and proudly boasting racial symbolism along with the American flag.
The petition currently is 900 signatures short of its 2,500 goal.
A dean reportedly apologized for sharing the article on social media, noting it “mistakenly gave the impression that he supported [Hochschild’s] views and may have hurt students of color,” according to WUSA9.
But the school did publish a statement defending free speech. Provost Boyd Creasman did not mention the controversy, but said everyone has the right to “express their views respectfully without fear of sanction” in a statement tweeted out Feb. 24.
A statement from Provost Boyd Creasman, Ph.D., regarding reaction to a recent article published by Professor Joshua Hochschild, Ph.D. pic.twitter.com/XTfEIiw03J
— Mount St. Mary's University (@MSMU) February 25, 2021
The overall response from the university incensed Purdie: “Ridiculous! Ridiculous!” she ranted in an Instagram video. In addition, she alleges in the petition that Hochschild’s personal views will “reflect his teaching,” and that his article “creates a hostile environment for students that don’t subscribe to his ideals.”
Editor’s note: This post has been amended to add in quotes from Hochschild’s original column and to include his statements to The College Fix.
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