Prof. who called Ben Carson a 'coon' responds to 'poorly sourced, clickbait article'
University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) professor Anthea Butler, who famously called Ben Carson a “coon” last year, is now going after The Daily Pennsylvanian for publishing an article titled, “Where in the World is Anthea Butler,” calling it a “poorly sourced, clickbait article.”
A reporter at The Daily Pennsylvanian, Mitchell Chan, says he recently attempted to track down Butler, an associate professor of religious studies, on UPenn’s campus but says she is impossible to locate because the school is protecting her despite the Division of Public Safety denying putting her under any special protection.
Butler made national news last September when she tweeted, “If only there was a ‘coon of the year award’...” in response to a link to a Sports Illustrated article in which Ben Carson defended the right of Nascar fans to fly confederate flags during races.
Butler deleted her tweet shortly after Campus Reform initially contacted her.
Only 20 minutes after the story was published, Butler tweeted, “So my haters at Campus Reform are at it again, so for my regular followers, I’m locked until the horde rides by. This act is so tired…”
Immediately after, Butler posted another tweet warning her academic followers, “...Anything you say on twitter will be twisted to fit a narrative of racism, et [sic] by conservatives.”
Butler is no stranger to controversy. After George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin in 2013, she published a blog saying that God must be, “a white racist god with a problem. More importantly, he is carrying a gun and stalking young black men.”
Shortly after posting this, she boasted about being tenured saying, “I can’t get fired.”
Despite her boasts, Butler went on sabbatical last semester after the Carson story broke, but has since returned to campus to teach a class titled, “Readings in American Evangelicalism.”
Ever since Butler has returned to UPenn, reporters from The Daily Pennsylvanian have attempted to find her and her class, but have been “unsuccessful.”
“Because of the threats against her, I cannot tell you where she teaches and any further inquiries should be sent to Penn Police (she is protected by them),” Justin McDaniel, Chair of the Religious Studies Department, told The Daily Pennsylvanian.
McDaniel said that Butler constantly changes location of her courses and that this is intentional.
“It is a standing policy, because of previous death threats and incessant harassment by many people over the last several years that Prof. Butler always changes the location of her classroom for her graduate courses,” McDaniel said, “And the location of her undergraduate courses are not publicized to anyone but the students registered for the course. I cannot tell you the building or time.”
Butler responded to the The Daily Pennsylvanian article with a letter to the editor claiming she isn’t protected by the police and again claiming innocence of her Ben Carson tweet.
“The article insinuated that because of a poorly sourced article from Campus Reform last semester that seemingly insulted presidential candidate Ben Carson, I was receiving threats because I am hated,” Butler said, “For the record, I did not call Ben Carson what people have said I did. I made a reference to a friend’s tweet, and that was distorted by right wing press sites.”
Butler doesn’t address the fact that it was McDaniel, the Religious Studies Chair, not The Daily Pennsylvanian reporter, who insinuated she was receiving threats and protected by the police.
Butler claims she isn’t meeting in her assigned classroom as a favor to a graduate student who has a scheduling conflict.
“It is a small seminar, and because we don’t need a classroom, we meet in another location on campus. Very simple,” Butler said.
She goes on to assure the reader that she has been on campus every week since the semester began, “In short, I’m doing my job. Whether or not The Daily Pennsylvanian is, that’s another matter altogether.”
Butler then laments the misinterpretation of her by “conservative media sites such as Campus Reform, NewsMax and Fox News.”
“Unfortunately, reporters at the [Daily Pennsylvanian] have used these sites to source ‘news’ articles about me. The reporter in question has demanded to know where I am meeting from our administrative assistant and chair in the hopes of ambushing me, even after I refused interview requests politely via email. That is not acceptable,” Butler said.
Butler continues by claiming she is a “committed associate professor” and “well respected in [her] field.”
“I will not have my professional life on campus impinged by someone who has other axes to grind and does not know me,” Butler says before adding how important academic freedom is.
“I do not relish writing this letter. I’d rather be working on an article, or hanging with my students, or reading,” Butler says, “Because of the times that we live in today, when bullying is the norm, both on the playground and in presidential campaigns, and discourse is disjointed, it is important to get the story right.”
Despite being hard to find, Butler closes her letter by inviting students to take her upcoming Fall course on Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Black Lives Matter, “If you want to find out who I really am.”
“I can’t think of a better way to get to know me through my scholarship and teaching, instead of a poorly sourced, clickbait article in The Daily Pennsylvanian,” Butler says.
Campus Reform reached out to McDaniel but he declined to comment and Butler replied, “No. And you understand why, I'm sure.”
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @brianledtke