Professor’s Wrist Slapped

News: US News
by Kristine Christlieb  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  July 20, 2020   

Community outrage

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OMAHA, Neb. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Catholic university is allowing a professor who posted an offensive tweet to remain on the faculty.

Bowing to pressure, Creighton University issued an apology July 10 for theology Professor Zachary Smith's conduct. Smith responded to an Omaha World Herald headline about a pro-police rally that reads, "'Back the Blue' rally in Omaha to show support for law enforcement."

Reacting on July 7 to the headline Smith tweeted, "Lemme fix this headline for you ... 'White supremacist rally in Omaha to showcase Midwestern racism.'"

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Professor Zachary Smith

Statements Voice Condemnation

Voicing their objection to Smith's tweet, the Creighton University College Republicans and the Omaha Police Officer's Association (OPOA) on July 10 issued a pair of strongly-worded statements.

Speaking on behalf of the College Republicans, Tyler Henningsen expressed his group's indignation, calling Smith's tweet "morally repugnant."

He further explained why the professor's tweet was objectionable.

"Attacking law enforcement, the people who protect, defend and pursue justice for the most marginalized among us is disingenuous and hypocritical," wrote Henningsen.

In his statement for police officers, Anthony Conner noted that all the rally speakers were non-white.

"The OPOA is disappointed that a professor from Creighton, who has so much influence on the future leaders in the city, would make such a divisive comment at a time when healing should be a priority," affirmed Conner.

The statement, which was jointly issued shortly after noon, ended with a demand for Smith to publicly apologize or resign.

The OPOA is disappointed that a professor ... who has so much influence ... would make such a divisive comment.

Later that afternoon, the university tweeted a statement on Smith's behalf, claiming he was remorseful.

"Views expressed by a Creighton University faculty member on his personal social media account concerning the Back the Blue event are not those of the University. Additionally, the faculty member regrets his statement and sincerely apologizes for the offense it has caused," the school tweeted.

Henningsen was unimpressed. He told Church Militant he doesn't consider the university's tweet a public apology from Smith and therefore is still seeking the professor's resignation.

"It would be like if a kid gets caught throwing rocks at the neighbor's house," explained Henningsen. "There's no real accountability if dad comes over and apologizes while the kid is in the basement playing video games and doesn't even care."

He further wonders how a professor capable of such unethical conduct is still teaching in the university's honors program. In addition to his duties in the honors program, Smith also teaches in the women's and gender studies program. The university's website identifies the tenured professor, who has earned theology degrees from both a Protestant seminary and a Catholic graduate program, as its expert in the history of Christianity.

If you are not super religious TAKE SMITH. He does not force religion down your throat but instead educates you about culture, tradition and social justice issues.

A Rate My Professors reviewer says, "If you are not super religious TAKE SMITH. He does not force religion down your throat but instead educates you about culture, tradition, and social justice issues."

Double Standard for Conservatives

Conservative faculty members as well as students at other institutions have not been so lucky. Punishments for politically incorrect speech have been swift and harsh, and examples abound.

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Jack Denton

In a recent incident, former Florida State University Student Senate president Jack Denton was removed from office because his fellow student leaders were informed of a remark he made in a private Catholic chat group. The Catholic students were discussing requests that their club had received for funding.

Denton voiced his objection to Black Lives Matter (BLM,) pointing out the group's hostility to official Church teaching. A fellow member of the Catholic group sent screenshots of his remarks to the Student Senate and the three-year, student government veteran was immediately removed.

In a separate case, the diocese of Fresno recently fired via e-mail Catholic writer and philosophy teacher Timothy Gordon, who is also a frequent Church Militant contributor. Over the summer break, Gordon posted several tweets critical of BLM. A group of progressive students and parents objected, demanded his removal, and got it.

The ultimate example is the young, Indianapolis mother who was shot and killed after saying, "All lives matter."

Within the week, Henningsen hopes to sit down with Creighton's president, Fr. Daniel S. Hendrickson, and several other faculty members to discuss Smith's future at the Catholic institution. He has not spoken directly with Smith, whose e-mail address and telephone number have been removed from the university's website. His Twitter account has likewise been taken down.

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