University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Dr. Ari Kohen is the Schlesinger Professor of Social Justice in the Department of Political Science at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. According to his University biography, his current research interests include social justice education, technology and racism, and “extremist challenges to liberalism.”
In May of 2019, Dr. Kohen accused members of various TPUSA chapters in the state of Nebraska of being white supremacists. In a post on his personal Twitter account, Dr. Kohen asks why the students and former TPUSA staff pictured are flashing “the same white power symbol” as the Christchurch shooter.
This is a serious question for @RepDonBacon: why are some of your former staffers and interns the kind of people who take photos in which they are flashing the same White Power symbol as the New Zealand mass murderer? pic.twitter.com/cz214DaMJD
— Ari Kohen (@kohenari) March 22, 2019
Dr. Kohen is referencing a mass shooting that occurred in Christchurch, New Zealand just a few weeks prior to his tweet. During the March 2019 rampage, a terrorist killed 51 and injured 41 Muslim members of two separate mosques across the city.
In the left-most photo of the tweet, members of TPUSA chapters can be seen posing for a photo at an event while making an “ok” sign with their hands. Dr. Kohen juxtaposes the photo with a photo of the gunman making a similar gesture.
Many regard the “ok” sign as a euphemism for signaling the phrase “white power.” Despite persistence by members of the media, the “ok” signal’s connection to white supremacy is a myth. The connection is thought to have originated as a prank from the site 4-chan in 2017.
Dubbed “operation o-kkk,” anonymous users were instructed to spam liberal media outlets and social media platforms to claim the “ok” sign is a symbol for “white power.” Users were then instructed to create anonymous, left-leaning accounts to retweet the prank, simulate outrage at the gesture, and further amplify the campaign.
Even the left-leaning Anti-Defamation League has declared the campaign a “hoax.” Despite being widely regarded as fake, Dr. Kohen still maintains that anyone who flashes the sign is a “white nationalist.”
If you’re a well-known white nationalist, and you do this 👌in a photo, then I think it’s a pretty clear sign of your white nationalism.
— Ari Kohen (@kohenari) April 29, 2017
After he was contacted by various media outlets over his comments, Dr. Kohen only proceeded to double down on his accusations. In a series of tweets, he accuses TPUSA and Breitbart News of “weaponizing the internet” over his remarks and again falsely accuses the students of flashing a “white power” sign.
In an hour or two, I’m going to be attacked by a right-wing mob. It’s source will be Turning Point USA and Breitbart. If you’re interested in seeing how these folks weaponize the internet against college professors, here’s some information:
— Ari Kohen (@kohenari) March 25, 2019
In the past, Dr. Kohen has repeatedly accused conservatives of harboring white nationalist sentiments and of supporting fascism. In a 2019 post on his personal blog, he refers to conservative supporters of President Donald Trump as a “cancer.”
In the same post, he furthers describes the same conservatives as “proto-fascists”:
He again insinuates that anyone voting for Donald Trump is a white nationalist in a tweet just before the 2020 general election.
In November, white nationalism is on the ballot. You can vote for it or you can vote against it. I’m going to spend the next 5 months reminding you, every time Trump winks at his Nazi supporters like he did today and the Nebraska Republicans have nothing negative to say about it.
— Ari Kohen (@kohenari) May 22, 2020
In a separate tweet, Dr. Kohen expressed his disbelief that conservatives would consider a university campus hostile to their political views.
Turns out you shouldn’t believe the hype from right-wing state senators about the University of Nebraska. Conservative students feel just fine here, according to a Gallup poll we had to commission when higher education got politicized here last year: https://t.co/UWvwAK6LI1
— Ari Kohen (@kohenari) September 14, 2018
Students and Parents may contact the Department of Political Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln at (402) 472-2343 or at [email protected]
Updated – November 18, 2021