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Northeastern Professor Apologizes For Saying He 'Wouldn't Mind Seeing Trump Dead'14:45
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A Northeastern University professor has apologized for saying, at a university event, that he wouldn't mind seeing President Trump dead.

Barry Bluestone told Radio Boston Thursday that the remark was unfortunate and wrong, and that "it slipped out ... at the end of a two-hour lecture."

A harsh critic of Trump's, Bluestone said at the Jan. 31 event, "Sometimes I want to just see him impeached. Other times, quite honestly — I hope there are no FBI agents here — I wouldn’t mind seeing him dead."

Bluestone joined the show for a wide-ranging conversation on the outcry following the comment, why he said it, speech on campuses and civil discourse.

You can listen atop the post.

Guest

Barry Bluestone, founding director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy and a professor at Northeastern University. He tweets @barrybluestone.

Interview Highlights

On his comment about Trump

"First of all I want to apologize, that was not what I meant to say. I’m a person of nonviolence, I’m a Gandhian, and it slipped out. I was just at the end of a two-hour lecture in response to a rather harsh question.

"But what I was trying to say was that I now find this president to be such a danger to the country that we need people reacting and standing up and protesting, not unlike we did in the 1960s about the war,d about civil rights. I don’t want to see him dead, I would like to see him out of the White House.

"But what I was trying to say was that this is the most dangerous president we’ve ever had. He’s a danger to our democracy, he’s a danger to the Constitution, he now wants to have a military weapon parade ... that reminds me of Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Soviet Union. He has had racist comments about Muslims, and people who are poor. This person should not remain in the White House, and we should continue to protest it in peaceful ways."

...

"It slipped out after a two-hour lecture [about polarization]. And the question came from a very conservative person who was supporting Trump ...

"The question was, ‘What do you think should be done, what’s the path forward?’ And I said we have to have protests, we have to move. And then, you know, it just slipped out, I said, ‘You know, many times I wanna see him impeached, and sometimes in my heart,’ I think was the word I used, ‘I just want him dead.’ And that was unfortunate."

On the conservative news outlet, Campus Reform, that broke the story

"As a matter of fact, Campus Reform is where this first showed up. And they have been fairer and more honest in the coverage of this than anyone else. Their headline was ‘At A Public Event On The Rule Of Law In A Time Of Polarization, A Northeastern Professor Told The Audience That He Wouldn’t Mind Seeing President Trump Dead.’ 'Barry Bluestone told Campus Reform that while he wants people to stand up and oppose Trump, he did not want to advocate acts of violence against the president.' And then they went on to explain my real position, which was this is a president who is quite dangerous."

On Northeastern University's response

"I have not heard a word from the Northeastern administration. I would have liked Northeastern to call me as soon as this came up. That is not what they did."

On the question of whether his comments should be a fireable offense

"I hope not. I mean one of the things that we stand for on university campuses is freedom of speech. I realize that this was not the best use of freedom of speech, but I would hope that a university, above all, would be a place where all kinds of ideas can be put forward.

"And the fact that I got so many notes, emails, calls, from faculty, from other students, from former students of mine saying, 'Yes, I’m sorry you used that word, but we need people like you standing up and raising issues.' If not on campus, where will this happen, where will this occur? When we go back to the anti-war movement that stopped the war in Vietnam, it began on the campuses."

On free speech at universities 

"I support conservative groups on campus that are raising issues. But I have always, in the courses I’m teaching, I tell my students, 'There are four things I want you to learn in my classes in reverse order of importance: the least important but not unimportant, facts, then theories, then by the end of the course I hope you’ll begin to help develop your own personal views, but most important of all at the end of this course I want you to be a skeptic, a healthy skeptic. That is, never take anything on face value.' ...

"[The university] took down the video; I wish they hadn’t. We need university administrations that will stand up and say, 'We oppose Bluestone’s words, but now we have understood what Bluestone meant and his apology. Now let’s have a discourse over where is this country, and how do we change it? And how do we reduce the polarization? How do we have civil discourse so we can meet our challenges out of a sense of shared commitments as opposed to hate?

This segment aired on February 8, 2018.

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