This article has been updated to include a response from Samford University.
A Samford professor recently protected his tweets and took down his website after being questioned about comments he allegedly made in class defending the actions of Hamas in its recent attacks against Israel.
Some students from Samford contacted 1819 News about comments made in an Alabama Constitution and Politics class.
During a discussion of the civil rights movement and African American underrepresentation in government, visiting assistant Professor Christopher Tyler Burks is reported to have drawn a comparison between the civil rights movement's struggle and the current Palestinian conflict in Israel.
"We were talking about the civil rights movement, and he was talking about how African Americans were underrepresented in their government," One student said. "And, as a comparison, he said that Palestinians were underrepresented in Israel, and that's why they're fighting. …He was kind of praising, I guess not really praising, but validating what Hamas was doing. He was justifying it."
One female student reportedly attempted to challenge Burks, pointing to the difference between wartime tactics and a terrorist attack, to which Burks reportedly reiterated a justification of the tactics. After further challenge, Burks reportedly hastily shut down the conversation.
"She said that she didn't think raping women and kidnapping children is necessarily a war strategy," the student continued. "And after she said that, he said, 'We don't know enough about this topic, so we can't really make an analysis on it,' and kind of shut her down after she made that comment and they kind of moved on."
Another student confirmed the story and said the Burks had a history of questionable behavior, including inviting a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood to speak during a class. The student also said he asked Democratic political candidates to speak "on the regular." He also reportedly had his students do an "equity walk," allegedly designed to show inherent privileges bestowed to white students over black students.
"We watched videos and did discussion questions," one student said. "The questions we had to discuss were very similar to the equity walk. [Burks] wanted to know where we went to high school and what the percentage of whites to blacks was. He wanted us to know there was white supremacy and make us feel bad for it. It was kind of his whole point as to why he was asking us those questions."
Another student from Burks' American Public Policy Class also expressed similar events of political bias and pushing liberal ideas.
1819 News contacted Burks to allow him to clarify his comments regarding the war in Israel. He replied tersely, "I have not justified any actions by Hamas." When 1819 News sought clarification on his views on the conflict and what point he was attempting to make in class, Burks did not respond.
Soon after responding to 1819 News, Burks changed his profile settings on Twitter, making his content protected and thus free from scrutiny. He also began redesigning his personal website, which contained his research work, advocacy and political associations.
Update, 3:15 pm, 10/13/2023: Samford University issued the following statement:
"Samford University condemns in the strongest possible way the senseless, unjustified, and brutal violence committed by members of the Hamas terrorist organization against the people and nation of Israel. The Samford community is actively praying for peace and justice in the region. Specifically, prayers extend to the families of those people killed or injured in the attacks as well as the many innocent Israeli and Palestinian lives impacted by this devastating violence."
"The administration has spoken with the instructor in question who reconfirmed he was in no way trying to justify the actions of Hamas, and laments that his comments were misinterpreted."
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