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USC Dismisses Complaints Against Prof. John Strauss

Professor claimed the recording was “selectively edited.
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June 20, 2024
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USC has dismissed the complaints against Economics Professor John Strauss over a exchange he had with pro-Palestinian protesters in November that went viral.

As previously reported by The Journal, Strauss had said to pro-Palestinian protesters on Nov. 9: “Hamas are murderers, that’s all they are. Every one should be killed, and I hope they all are.” A selectively edited clip of him just saying, “Every one should be killed, and I hope they all are” went viral on social media to claim that he wanted all Palestinians killed. Strauss has maintained that the “every one should be killed” line was referencing Hamas, not all Palestinians. He was also accused of stepping on a list of names of Palestinians that have been killed in the Gaza Strip during the ongoing war with Israel; Strauss claimed that if he did step on it was by accident.

The university initially relegated him to teaching virtually the rest of the semester, as a “precautionary” move to “minimize classroom disruption” before subsequently reinstating him to campus.

The exchange resulted in complaints of discrimination and harassment filed against Strauss; the Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA) announced in a June 20 press release all the complaints against Strauss were dismissed and there was a “favorable resolution” to the outcome.

“We’re pleased that Professor Strauss has been vindicated and that his rights have been acknowledged,” AFA Academic Committee Chair Lucas Morel said in a statement. “The university rightly found that John had not engaged in harassment and dismissed the complaints against him. The university also acknowledged John’s right to free speech and declined to subject him to discipline. The successful resolution of this case is a victory for academic freedom rights everywhere, particularly during these contentious times on campuses nationwide.”

Strauss also said in a statement, “I am grateful to the AFA for its support during this difficult period. I hope this outcome will serve as a reminder to universities across the country that professors have a right to free speech both inside and outside the classroom. I am deeply relieved to put this case behind me.”

“I hope this outcome will serve as a reminder to universities across the country that professors have a right to free speech both inside and outside the classroom. I am deeply relieved to put this case behind me.” – Prof. John Strauss

The university told The Los Angeles Times that they “are unable to discuss any individual cases because of the confidential nature of personnel matters. USC takes allegations of harassment and discrimination seriously.”

USC Professor Anna Krylov and freelance statistician Jay Tanzman congratulated Strauss in a June 20 post on the “Voices Against Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism at USC” Substack. Krylov and Tanzman asked why the investigation took so long since “it was clear from the very beginning Professor Strauss had done nothing wrong, and that the accusations were without merit and made in bad faith.” They asked: “What about the miscreants who doctored videos of Professor Strauss’ encounter with the protesters, launched the vicious social media campaign against him, doxxed him and flooded his email with threats, and lodged frivolous and false complaints against him? What is their punishment?”

As previously noted by The Journal, the Times spoke with a student who only wanted to be identified by her first name, Daphne, who is responsible for one of the videos of Strauss’ now-viral remarks. “I do not possess the ability to doctor a video like that,” she told the Times. “And also we have a second video that matches so, like, there’s no way on God’s green Earth that I would have been able to doctor that video.” The Times reported that while they could not find any evidence that the videos of Strauss were doctored, “as the clip circulated online, it was at times trimmed to a few seconds of Strauss uttering, ‘Everyone should be killed.’ The captions and superimposed text in social media posts could be minimal, misleading or wrong.”

Krylov and Tanzman added toward the end of their post: “Professor Strauss’ treatment is yet another example of the double standard for Jews, as discussed in the Report to the President and the Provost. A USC student DEI ambassador tweets that she wants to “kill every motherf—ing Zionist”? It’s all chill. A professor says that an Islamist terror organization must be exterminated? Another matter.” They called for USC to publicly apologize to Strauss.

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