Music business professor Eduardo Calle is facing backlash on social media after a controversial New Year’s Day tweet about President Barack Obama’s citizenship prompted dozens of Twitter users to demand his dismissal from the College.
Calle’s tweet was in response to an article posted by Scott Dworkin, co-founder and senior advisor of the Democratic Coalition Against Trump. The link was an article from New York Magazine making the case for President-elect Donald Trump’s impeachment, to which Calle responded: “Yeah, right. Let’s work on impeaching the Kenyan first.”
Dworkin took a screen shot of Calle’s response, posting it next to a photo of Miami Dade College’s highlights and facts page—which states that MDC enrolls more minority students than any college or university in the U.S.—followed by the caption, “This professor just called the President a Kenyan-He teaches @ Miami Dade College-a majority minority college #resist #trumpleaks @MDCollege.”
Users of the social media site were upset by Calle’s suggestion that Obama is a naturalized citizen and went on to make note of it by tagging MDC’s Twitter page:
“@edcalle you might have an unexpected, extended holiday from your very diverse college. #HappyNewYear @MDCollege.” —@regina_smith67
“@MDCollege Big problem with your openly racist professor @edcalle.” —@KimSanCartier
He has since deleted his Twitter account, but did post a letter on his website titled “Response to Twitter Mob,” where he apologized if he offended anyone but still defended his right to free speech.
Calle’s letter continues to support claims of the birther movement that question the validity of Obama’s birth certificate and also stands by a previous statement where he referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin as “classy.”
“My constitutionally protected response to a comment demanding the baseless impeachment of President Elect Donald J. Trump was an ironic and likely baseless alternative suggestion that America impeach someone whose [sic] posted birth certificate has been carefully analyzed and determined a forgery by at least two independent experts…” Calle wrote.
“Consequently, while I am sorry if anyone was offended by my constitutionally protected exercises of free speech and inquiry– I will never apologize for exercising my rights.”
In a statement that has been since removed from his response, Calle reprimanded people who sent him “insulting, threatening, and otherwise idiotic emails.” When contacted by The Reporter, Calle directed the newspaper to his website.
The seasoned saxophonist, composer, orchestrator and producer is a tenured professor in the School of Entertainment Design & Technology. A Latin Grammy Award winner and five-time Grammy nominee, Calle has worked with artists like Shakira, Gloria Estefan and Julio Iglesias.
He resigned from the popular local Afro-Cuban funk band Palo! on Jan. 10, according to an article in the Miami New Times.
Juan Mendieta, the director of communications at MDC, declined to comment on whether or not any disciplinary action took place but confirmed that Calle is still employed by the College.
“We are aware the post may have upset some people. The statement in question was not posted using any college resources. Opinions expressed on personal social media accounts do not necessarily reflect the official position of Miami Dade College (MDC),” Mendieta wrote in an email a little more than a week after the incident took place. “MDC is an institution that promotes understanding and values all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender, political affiliation or religion. Calle remains at MDC and we have no other comments, especially regarding personnel matters.”
Leadership of the The United Faculty of Miami Dade College, the school’s professors union, would not answer The Reporter’s questions about the process of a professor facing disciplinary action or their stance on whether or not professors should be protected in their rights to post freely on their own personal social media accounts.
According to the union’s contract on their website, the College reserves the right to correct any “deficiencies in performance or conduct” with disciplinary actions ranging from “oral counseling, written counseling, written reprimand, withholding salary increases, return to annual contract, suspension with pay, suspension without pay, discharge, or other appropriate action.”
Calle is not the first professor to face backlash after expressing controversial opinions on personal social media sites.
Florida Atlantic University professor James Tracy was fired for publicly denying the Sandy Hook shooting as a hoax. Similarly, University of Virginia business professor Douglas Muir raised ire comparing the Black Lives Matter movement to the Ku Klux Klan. In another case, Drexel University professor George Ciccariello-Maher raised a firestorm after tweeting, “All I want for Christmas is white genocide.”