A Babson College employee has been suspended for a provocative Facebook post suggesting Iran should list 52 American cultural sites that Iran could bomb. He said Wednesday it was a lame attempt at humor.
In a statement Wednesday, Babson confirmed the suspension but did not name the employee or describe the post in question. The Boston Herald previously reported on the suspension.
“Babson College condemns any type of threatening words and/or actions condoning violence and/or hate,” said the Babson statement. “This particular post from a staff member on his personal Facebook page clearly does not represent the values and culture of Babson College. While we understand he has deleted the posts, we have immediately suspended him, with pay, pending the completion of our investigation. In addition, we are cooperating with local, state and federal authorities.”
The now-deleted post was widely circulated on social media and written by Asheen Phansey, Babson’s director of sustainability. Phansey didn’t immediately return an e-mail seeking comment, but in a statement released by a Boston public relations firm, he said he meant his post as a joke.
“I regret my bad attempt at humor,” Phansey said. "As an American, born and raised, I was trying to juxtapose our ‘cultural sites’ with ancient Iranian churches and mosques. I am completely opposed to violence and would never advocate it by anyone. I am sorry that my sloppy humor was read as a threat. I condemn all acts of violence. I am particularly sorry to cause any harm or alarm for my colleagues at Babson, my beloved alma mater, and the place where I have enjoyed teaching students and serving as its sustainability director.”
Phansey’s post was a response to a threat by President Trump in recent days to target Iranian cultural sites. Phansey wrote that in retaliation for Trump’s threat to target cultural sites, Iran’s leader should “tweet a list of 52 sites of beloved American cultural heritage that he would bomb. Um ... Mall of America? ... Kardashian residence?”
Trump had threatened that if Iran attacked any American assets to avenge the US killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, the United States had 52 targets across the Islamic Republic that “WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”
Trump added that some targets are “important to Iran & Iranian culture.” The president later backtracked from his threat and said in a speech Wednesday, following Iran’s retaliatory strike on US bases in Iraq that did not injure any Americans, that the US would impose “additional punishing economic sanctions” on Iran.
Phansey’s biography on Babson’s website says he has “over a decade of corporate sustainability experience, specializing in sustainability strategy and change management in large enterprises. From 2010–2017, Asheen led sustainability efforts for the $3B French software developer Dassault Systèmes, which in 2018 was named the #1 on the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations list by Corporate Knights.”
He also “frequently lectures” at Babson and other schools and enjoys “learning new languages, philosophizing over espresso, and running (slowly and infrequently),” the bio says.
Phansey has worked as Babson’s sustainability director since February 2019, according to his LinkedIn page. He describes himself on LinkedIn as “a global leader who draws on my subject-matter expertise in business-model and technological innovation for a sustainable economy.”
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.