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Confederate Sympathizer on Blast

Florida Atlantic professor faces opposition from students after his essays blaming "black supremacy" for slavery and generally defending the Confederacy surface.

April 9, 2018
 
Facebook/Adam Wasserman
Students challenge Marshall DeRosa at Florida Atlantic University Faculty Senate meeting last week.

Florida Atlantic University is facing demands that it investigate Marshall DeRosa, a professor of political science who has been called a white supremacist.

“If faculty members here have ties to people who have in the past lynched my folks, I deserve to know that, do I not?” Jonathan Jackson, an alumnus who identified himself as a current graduate student in the humanities, said during a Faculty Senate meeting last week. Video of the exchange has since been shared online.

Others have called for DeRosa’s termination.

Addressing the allegations against him at the meeting as “untruths, lies and smears,” DeRosa said he didn't blame students, but rather the "kingpins" who have "weaponized politically their fiduciary positions as faculty members at this university for political purposes, and they're going to be rooted out."

DeRosa offered to read some of the hateful emails he said he’d received of late. But he sat down as Jackson continued to challenge him, saying, “There’s nothing more to say. I think you’ve made my case for me.”

Student activists have organized against DeRosa in recent weeks, after an article in The Nation detailed his past affiliation with the neo-Confederate League of the South Institute. DeRosa was listed as a faculty member there from 2000-09, but he minimized his affiliation with the pro-secessionist group in an interview with The Nation, saying, “That was a long time ago. I disengaged early on. They’d invite me to things and I’d go to talk about my scholarship, especially the Confederate constitution, but I got an inkling as to some of the characters involved … I didn’t feel comfortable.”

Indeed, the league has clear links to white supremacist groups. But even since his break with the organization, DeRosa has publicly expressed fringe-to-arguably-white-supremacist views.

In a 2017 blog post for the pro-“Southern tradition” Abbeville Institute, for example, DeRosa wrote that equating the Confederacy with slavery or white supremacy “dismally fails to recognize the core value of the Confederacy, that core value being the rule of law.”

He also argued that slavery had its roots not in white supremacy but in “black supremacy.” In doing so, DeRosa used a term that many consider to be a slur and relied on a straw-man argument that Africans participated in the slave trade.

“The tar-baby in any defense of the Confederacy is slavery, which has segued into ‘white supremacy,’” he wrote. “Linking the two, slavery with white supremacy is a gross over-simplification. First, black supremacy is the origin of Southern slavery. It was blacks and Asiatic Muslims on the African continent that enslaved and sold other blacks to the slave traders.”

DeRosa also drew parallels between the U.S. North and South and Caitlyn Jenner in 2015 blog post for Abbeville that has since been cited as offensive.

“I would never refer to the new Bruce [Jenner] as a freak of nature, because he/she is not a natural product,” DeRosa wrote. “Bruce will never be a woman. The new Bruce may superficially talk, walk, dress, and appear as a woman, just as the new South may superficially appear ‘Southern.’ However, both are manufactured and, to put it politely, somewhat repulsive from a Christian perspective. I dare say that the Old South would agree.”

The university said in a statement last week that no formal complaints had been made against DeRosa to date, but that any such complaint would be reviewed according to established policies and procedures.

“In the meantime,” Florida Atlantic said it “maintains its commitments to the value of diversity and to the principles of nonviolent civil discourse and academic freedom, which encourage the free exchange of ideas fundamental to a democratic society.”

Florida Atlantic isn't far removed from its last free speech controversy involving a professor. James Tracy, a former associate professor of communication and Sandy Hook shooting conspiracy theorist who was fired in 2015 for failing to disclose outside activities, continued to sue the university until a federal jury rejected his First Amendment violation claim in December.

DeRosa, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, currently runs a private-prison education program funded by the Charles Koch Foundation, according to The Nation. Many students and faculty members have questioned the Koch family's increased giving to higher education in recent years.

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