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Political science professor denies ties to white supremacy

Marshall DeRosa is denying any accusations of racism and white supremacy after receiving generous grants from the Koch Foundation caught the eye of a non-profit campaign.

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Marshall DeRosa, a professor at FAU, spoke about his guest speaker, former FAU professor James Tracey, that he brought to his class to teach ‘The CIA and the Media.’ Alexander Rodriguez | News Editor

Marshall DeRosa, a professor at FAU, spoke about his guest speaker, former FAU professor James Tracey, that he brought to his class to teach ‘The CIA and the Media.’ Alexander Rodriguez | News Editor

Marshall DeRosa, a professor at FAU, spoke about his guest speaker, former FAU professor James Tracey, that he brought to his class to teach ‘The CIA and the Media.’ Alexander Rodriguez | News Editor

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Some students say he’s a white supremacist. Others say he’s “opening their minds.”

He says he’s bored.

Marshall DeRosa entered the national spotlight last month after details surfaced about his ongoing collaboration with private prison company GEO Group and his grants from conservative billionaire Charles Koch. 

Last month, nearly a dozen anonymous flyers declaring “Marshall DeRosa is a white supremacist” with Confederate flags around a photo of the tenured professor’s face appeared around campus. They were removed by the university within several days.

This poster was one of several found around the Boca campus last month. Turning Point USA added their ‘Socialism Sucks’ stickers after the chapter president discovered the poster on a University Press newsbin.

“I’m kind of bored with the whole thing,” DeRosa told the University Press. “I couldn’t care less what people think about me. I’m kind of tired of the harassment, people putting those flyers out. If they have a problem with me, why don’t they come to me instead of doing it behind the scenes.”

Students are targeting DeRosa’s published essays, specifically writings that praise the Confederacy during the Civil War.

FAU Student Power, an unofficial student organization that aims to mobilize students to fight injustice, is leading the campaign against DeRosa. President Allie Jacobs said her group wants to “demand action” from the university.

Allie Jacobs, the president of FAU Student Power, aims to mobilize students to fight injustice and elicit action from administration. Joshua Giron | Photo Editor

                                                                              “[DeRosa’s] just a symptom to the problem, not actually the problem itself. It’s, like, the institutional structure of FAU in general because it’s funny that they’re so proud that we’re such a diverse university while they obviously have ties to white supremacist groups through the work of DeRosa but also through the work with GEO Group,” said Jacobs.

Tensions between student protesters and faculty reached a peak April 2 during a Faculty Senate meeting. Four times per semester, an assembly of professors from each college meet to discuss university policies.

The room erupted into a heated argument when DeRosa gave a statement in response to the “white supremacist” allegations against him. (See video above.)

“The fact of the matter is, there is not an iota of truth to these charges. I could parade a thousand people in here that would show and demonstrate those charges are false,” said DeRosa to the crowd. “But to be quite frank, I don’t care what you believe because many people aren’t concerned about the truth, the facts. They react emotionally.”

He continued to say he was determined to “root out” the faculty he believes are encouraging the student protests. It was then that students in the room began heckling DeRosa, demanding “transparency.”

The protesters were from FAU Student Power and the FAU Young Democratic Socialists (YDSA), with the exception of a few students speaking on their own behalf.

Women, Gender, and Sexualities graduate student Jonathan Ray Jackson was the first to raise his voice.

“I want the faculty here to know that we employ someone here with ties to white supremacist groups … So how can we say we are ethnically, racially, politically diverse?”

Jonathan Ray Jackson, a graduate student of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Katrina Scales | Managing Editor

Jackson said he wants an investigation into the political science professor.

Another student who spoke, Wesley Chau, a political science major, referenced an article written by DeRosa about his views on Caitlyn Jenner, a former athlete and transgender woman.

DeRosa defended his writings saying he has no misgivings and that nothing about them is racist — only political. He told the students that if they have a problem, they can debate him in person and that posting the anonymous flyers was “spineless.”

“And those putting up those posters, jeopardizing my family, it’s not right or at least put your name to it. Don’t be a coward,” DeRosa said. “Tell your faculty advisors who are stoking you to do it, to stand up and put their names on it. Stop being cowards about it. Put your names on it.”

That faculty advisor may be Christopher Robé, who oversees the FAU Young Democratic Socialists.

When asked, Robé said in an email, “I am aware of the controversy. No, I didn’t talk to the [Y]DSA about this matter beforehand. I was unaware it was going to happen as anyone else, which is fine. Student groups have the autonomy and right to make their own decisions.”

Jackson had more to say.

“I pay your salary. I come to this school for an education. I come here to have a free, just, opportunity for education,” Jackson said to the room. “And if my faculty members have ties to people who have lynched my folks, I deserve to know that.”

When DeRosa refused to engage, chairman of the Academic Planning and Budget committee Chris Beetle jumped in to comment.

“These articles raised a number of red flags for me. They select a few quotes from Marshall’s writings and present them in a certain light … Even if he meant exactly the worst interpretation of what these quotes seem to imply, then that’s OK. ”

It was at this point Jackson interjected, “No, it’s not OK! You have to be right! You have to be right!” and a loud argument ensued.

“I have the floor! I have the floor! No no no I do not have to be right I have the floor,” Beetle shouted.

After 15 minutes of tense back and forth, Faculty Senate President Kevin Wagner adjourned the meeting.

The details of DeRosa’s extracurricular pursuits come from the non-profit action group UnKoch My Campus and were first published by left-leaning magazine The Nation. The story charges the professor with the following (see “Who’s Who?”).

  • Serving as a “faculty member” at the League of the South Institute
  • Scholarly contributions to the Abbeville Institute
  • Requesting and utilizing grants from the Koch Foundation
  • Using Koch grant money to fund teaching prison education program “The Inmate Civics Education Enhancement Project” at a GEO Group prison

DeRosa identifies as a “paleolibertarian” and thinks his critics fail to discern the difference between his admiration of the Confederacy with condoning slavery.

“People that know me know I’m not a racist. But they called me a national white supremacist so people might think I’m a nationalist,” DeRosa said. “I consider that an insult too because I’m not, I’m a Jeffersonian-republican. Because I don’t believe in the concentration of political power, I’m an advocate of individual autonomy and freedom.”

Many students who know DeRosa believe the accusations of white nationalism are slanderous.

Morgan Sachs, chapter president of Turning Point USA at FAU. Photo courtesy of Morgan Sachs.

Morgan Sachs, FAU chapter president of Turning Point USA, said DeRosa is the conservative club’s faculty adviser and that she’s used to antagonistic left-wing groups targeting them. As soon as she noticed the flyers, she covered them with TPUSA “Socialism Sucks” stickers.

“It’s cowardly to post anonymous flyers attacking him, he’s still a man with a family, a man with a job. You can disagree all you want but this is defamation, it’s not a discussion at that point it’s just name calling,” Sachs said.

Max Jackson, a former student who had DeRosa for several political science classes, said he was one of the few professors at the university with a right-of-center perspective.

“He is teaching students to open their minds and challenging their beliefs, which is what college is for,” he said. “We shouldn’t pay $100,000 to be coddled.”

While Max said he’s not surprised DeRosa is getting heat for some of his opinions, he feels students are reacting without thinking.

“All one article has to say is, ‘Oh, he gave a talk to this one group that was considered racist and now he’s a racist and now we need to burn DeRosa at the stake,’ he said. “And now, all of the hardcore liberals on campus are on board with something they know nothing about.”

FAU Student Power President Jacobs believes DeRosa’s writings are indicative of his strong prejudice against minorities and questioned, “If you are transphobic and if you are racist, how can you be teaching a diverse student body and have no bias whatsoever?”

Jonathan Ray Jackson, who spoke at the Faculty Senate, calls himself a Christian and a community mobilizer, saying his agenda is not partisan, only “peace.”

“Before I am an activist, I’m a human being. I’m not Muslim and I am not trans but my position as a human being means I’m empathetic and I don’t think it’s hippie of me to want all people to be respected.”

Flyers scattered around DeRosa’s classroom in General South called for students to complain to Larry Faerman, associate vice president and dean of students. According to Faerman, no complaints have been filed.

Quarter page flyers like these were scattered around Marshall DeRosa’s classroom in General South.

Following the commotion at the Faculty Senate meeting, the Miami News Times, The Washington Examiner, and the Sun Sentinel picked up the story.

Despite making national headlines, DeRosa isn’t exactly laying low.

He invited former FAU tenured communication professor James Tracy to give a guest lecture about the “CIA in the Media” to his Issues in American Politics class. 

Tracy made national headlines in 2016 for his controversial conspiracy theories posted to his blog, “Memory Hole” and subsequent firing by the university.

While FAU hasn’t released an official statement addressing the allegations, DeRosa is publicly denying any recent ties to white supremacist groups.

“I don’t give a rat’s ass about what people think of me, to be quite frank. They better just not vandalize my truck or mess with my family.”

Who’s Who?

A rundown of the organizations involved in the controversy surrounding Marshall DeRosa.

The Charles Koch Foundation focuses on providing grants to higher education, research, and training programs. On their website, they say they’ve gifted money to more than 300 colleges and universities nationwide. According to The Nation, they gave $32,000 to FAU in 2016.

In 2011, it was reported that the Charles Koch Foundation required final approval of hiring economics professors in return for their donation at Florida State University in 2007. Ralph Wilson, co-founder of action group UnKoch My Campus said, “Koch and DeRosa both subscribe to a fierce version of anarcho-capitalism that views civil rights, and any other government ‘intervention,’ as an overreach of the state.” When the UP filed a public records request for the dollar amount of Koch Foundation donations to FAU, the department responded saying, “please be advised that this information is exempt from public record pursuant to F.S. Section 1004.28(5).”

UnKoch My Campus is an action group that promotes a nationwide campaign to expose “corporate influence” at universities receiving donations from Koch family foundations. The group is “founded by students and activists who are fighting to maintain the university as an institution of high-quality learning,” according to its website.

The League of the South Institute is the educational department of the League of the South, a self-described Southern nationalist organization which aims to “promote the survival, well being, and independence of the Southern People.” The Institute employed DeRosa to teach “Constitutional Law” from 2000-09, according to archived web pages. League of the South President Michael Hill told the UP, “Dr. DeRosa has not been affiliated with The League of the South since the 1990s. His contributions were teaching at our summer institutes and writing scholarly articles on Southern history and politics. Nothing more controversial than that. All this was before the Southern Poverty Law Center designated us as a “hate group.” Liberal magazine The Nation says DeRosa is still associated with the LOS Institute’s successor publication, the Abbeville Institute.

The GEO Group is a multi-billion dollar private prison company based in Boca Raton, with facilities all over the world. The company has been the center of more than a hundred lawsuits in recent years involving human rights violations and drug-fueled gang riots in their detention facilities. The company pledged $6 million for naming rights to the FAU football stadium in 2013 but the contract ignited protest from students, eventually terminating the deal. DeRosa currently teaches civics and literature courses to inmates at GEO’s South Bay Correctional Facility alongside graduate students.

Critiquing the Media

Recent headlines from well-known media outlets are spreading misinformation regarding DeRosa’s views.  

Sun Sentinel – Education reporter Scott Travis reported the controversy surrounding DeRosa on April 6. The next day, the previously justifiable headline, “FAU students in uproar over prof’s very controversial essays on slavery,” was changed to “FAU students riled as professor blames slavery on blacks.”

The notion that “blacks created slavery,” which appears in the first sentence of the article, is misattributed to DeRosa’s writings. The professor’s direct quote, “First, black supremacy is the origin of Southern slavery,” isn’t mentioned until the end of the article. The phrase “black supremacy is the origin of Southern slavery” does not mean the same thing as “professor blames slavery on blacks.”

Besides spelling Caitlyn Jenner’s name wrong twice, the journalist said DeRosa called her a “freak of nature,” when in reality, he said, “I would never refer to the new Bruce as a freak of nature, because he/she is not a natural product.”

The Nation – The Nation is the longest continuously published magazine in the country and is known for its left-leaning slant and readership. Two striking characteristics of biased storytelling in the article are the author’s exaggerated language, despite it being labeled a news story, rather than an opinion piece. This is demonstrated first in the headline “How Charles Koch Is Helping Neo-Confederates Teach College Students,” which identifies DeRosa as a “neo-Confederate” with no concrete proof.

Alex Kotch, the article’s author, hints at how he believes the readers should feel by using loaded language, or words that specifically evoke an emotion, such as a “staggering” situation or a “notorious, predatory private-prison company.”

The story by The Nation led to various re-writes by other newspapers who saturated the reporting with the same biased language to induce outrage. The Miami New Times, RawStory, and The National Memo all used this same technique in their write-ups.

Katrina Scales is the managing editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].

About the Writer
Katrina Scales, Contributing Writer
Katrina is a senior multimedia journalism major who’s previously worked as news editor. Interests include classical piano, federal politics, and warm cookies from Wawa. She hopes to someday work for National Public Radio, preferably in a region that’s warm like her home state of Florida. Follow her on Twitter: @katfxsh
3 Comments

3 Responses to “Political science professor denies ties to white supremacy”

  1. L. L. on April 16th, 2018 9:16 am

    Partners of UnKochMyCampus.org include Greenpeace, the AFT (elected labor representatives of faculty on some campuses) and the Center for Media and Democracy.
    Turning Point’s event sponsors include the NRA and Freedom Works (funded by the Kochs). Turning Point USA was started with $5 mil. from Foster Freiss, a wealthy businessman that Steve Bannon encouraged to run for political office. (Bannon was in top management at Mercer’s Cambridge Analytica, which is currently under review in the Mueller investigation). Turning Point has a Professor Watchlist aimed at faculty who do not hold economic and political views similar to Freiss and the Kochs. Turning Point’s board includes Clarence Thomas’ wife. (Wikipedia) Justice Thomas failed to disclose his wife’s $600,000 in earnings from the Koch-funded Heritage Foundation.
    The PR tagline, “freedom”, is bait and switch for oligarchy. Princeton Prof. Gilens documented the U.S. has become an oligarchy. Charles Koch claimed, in 2018, that he had had more political success in the past 5 years than in his previous 50.
    University privatization and corporatization is the goal of the richest 0.1%. America’s most important common good, exemplified in non-legacy admission schools, is threatened by the $ billion dollar “philanthropic” spending of the Kochs, Bill Gates and the Waltons. Bill Gates and Zuckerberg are investors in the largest for-profit seller of schools-in-a-box.

  2. Terry on April 17th, 2018 10:33 am

    De Rosa is telling the truth. Over 95% of the south had no slaves and they were white people. The slave plantation owners were either black or Jews. That is an historical fact. There was only one Confederate General that had slaves, and that was Nathan Bedford Forrest. He inherited those slaves and never bought any. He was going to free his slaves but the Civil War started, so he kept them on his plantation for their own safety. However, blacks are known for enslaving their own people. They do so even today. in fact, Jewish owned ships would buy slaves at the Ivory Coast from black tribes. Also the Arabs and Muslims were horrendous slave owners and traders just like the black natives were and still are.

    The other Confederate Generals had no slaves. However, this isn’t true about the northern generals, most of them had slaves. Such as Grant, Sheridan, Sherman, Humboldt, and Thomas, all had slaves. Grant finally freed his slaves in 1866, and the last state to free her slaves was New Jersey, and she did so in 1868. The first slaves in America were white not black; and there were whites in the Tennessee, Kentucky, and Western Virginia area that refused to fight for the Confederacy for two reasons, 1) they were the descendants of slavery (as most whites are), and 2) because they felt that the Confederacy treated black slaves better than white slaves. These are known fact. I suggest that you go to the library and search:

    Michael Hoffman’s book, “they were white and they were slaves.”

    Mary Boykin Chessnut (Who’s husband was the first Secretary of State for the Confederacy. She also complained that the north was dumping their slaves in the south) book, ‘A Diary from Dixie.”

    Lochlainn Seabrook’s books such as, “LIncoln’s War,” “Everything You Were Taught About the Civil War Is Wrong, Ask a Southerner,” ” Everything You Were Taught About American Slavery Is Wrong, Ask a Southerner,” and “Confederate Flag Facts: What Every American Should Know About Dixie’s Southern Cross.”

    There were also northern families that owned slave plantations in the south. I believe that Pecan Grove plantation in Mississippi was at one time owned by a northern family.

    No slave ship flew the Confederate flag. All of the slave ships flew either the Spanish flag, the British flag, the Portugue’s flag, or the American flag. Thomas Jefferson (from Virginia) in the early years of his presidency eliminated the Atlantic slave trade. However, the north never complied with Jefferson’s law, the south did.

    In New Orleans there were no less then 3,000 black families that owned black and white slaves

    The first slave owner in America was black. There were free blacks that owned slaves in the south. Very few whites (.5% if any) owned any slaves. The north had slaves. I lived in an Mansion in Alton Illinois that was built by the Mitchell brothers in 1832. this mansion had two carriage houses, 11 cisterns, 6 fireplaces, a school, as well as slave quarters. I walked into those slave quarters. The Mitchell brothers also dug a tunnel from their mansion to the Confederate prison just below the mansion in order to free Confederate prisoners.

  3. L. L. on April 20th, 2018 5:45 pm

    The Snopes.com site debunks myths. They have a two part series titled, “The Truth About Confederate History”.
    Wikipedia provides an explanation about the legitimacy of Snope’s information.

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