FAU Students Confront Professor Outed for Ties to White Nationalist Group

Adam Wasserman via Facebook
Last month, an activist group outed a longtime Florida Atlantic University professor as a recipient of funding from the billionaire, conservative Koch brothers and, more troubling, as a former member of the League of the South Institute, the "educational" arm of an outright white nationalist group. As New Times noted weeks ago, Marshall DeRosa has written articles soft-peddling the morality of Confederate slavery as recently as August 2017.

Now FAU students have begun to protest and post anti-DeRosa flyers around campus, while others have shown up at events featuring DeRosa to confront him about his views about the slave-owning Confederacy.

This past Monday, FAU held a regular faculty meeting that DeRosa attended. During an open Q&A session at the end of the meeting, a group of students asked him to explain his views on slavery and the Confederacy.

Videos of the meeting show DeRosa ended up in a shouting match with an FAU graduate student and member of the Black Lives Matter Alliance of Broward County.

"I want the faculty here to know that we employ someone with ties to white supremacist groups," the student said to the room. "And if we do this, how can we say we are ethically, racially, politically diverse? I'm not attacking you; I'm attacking the people you are involved with, and if you are involved with these people, you need to stop that."

DeRosa struck back that the student protesters are "peddlers of these untruths, these lies, these smears" and added he wanted to weed out the faculty advisers who were "weaponizing" students and allegedly encouraged them to attend this week's meeting.

"They're going to be rooted out," he said. "Yeah. They're going to be rooted out."
DeRosa has not responded to multiple messages from New Times. But a report last month from the group UnKoch My Campus shows he served from 2000 to 2009 as a professor at the League of the South Institute. The parent group of that institute says it wants to secede from the United States and create a society controlled by white Christians.

The professor told The Nation he left the League of the South Institute after he noticed the group was becoming too radical for his liking. However, an expert noted to The Nation that the institute was clearly a pro-Confederate organization long before DeRosa joined.

Also, he is still affiliated with the Abbeville Institute, a group named for the birthplace of South Carolina slavery defender John C. Calhoun. DeRosa has written blogs posts on the Abbeville site denying that "white supremacy" was at the heart of the Confederacy, attacking transgender people, and referring to the Confederate States of America as "an advanced Christian civilization."

A backlash against the professor began building on campus soon after The Nation, New Times, and other outlets reported on his ties to the white nationalists. The conservative website Campus Reform recently published photos of campus flyers depicting DeRosa's face next to the League of the South logo, the Confederate flag, and the logo for Turning Point USA, the student-conservative movement led by frequent Fox News guest Charlie Kirk. DeRosa advises the Turning Point chapter at FAU.

"Marshall DeRosa is a white supremacist," the flyers read. "Ties to Koch Brothers & Hate Group League of the South. Demand Action!"

DeRosa told Campus Reform he believed the flyers were the creation of people under the influence of “either mental illness or demonic possession." A Turning Point representative at FAU said its members still stand by him.

Monday's faculty meeting brought another, more public confrontation between the professor and his critics. One former DeRosa student who attended the meeting, who did not want to be named for fear that DeRosa would retaliate, says students and faculty have long been aware that DeRosa holds some far-right beliefs. But few knew of his previous ties to the League of the South.

"When the articles came out, people were shocked, but they weren't really that surprised," says the student, who took DeRosa's Law and American Society class. "When I had him, he went on little rants about how the Native Americans were cannibal savages and weren’t doing anything with their land so they deserved to get colonized, sort of like this Ayn Rand thing. He also said [former] Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona was just doing his job and was not doing anything wrong."

Arpaio has long been accused of being racist and was convicted of criminal contempt-of-court for detaining Latino immigrants despite being ordered by a judge to stop. President Trump pardoned Arpaio last year.

At Monday's faculty meeting, another student read a DeRosa quote from August 2017 that claimed the transatlantic slave trade and American chattel slavery system were founded in "black supremacy" because some Africans sold other Africans to European slavers. One student noted the claim was "ahistorical" and asked whether DeRosa truly believed what he'd written.

"I never said that!" DeRosa initially said. The student then read DeRosa's own article back to him and summarized by saying DeRosa wrote that "black supremacy was the origin of Southern slavery."

"That's right!" DeRosa said. "It's not about race; it's about power."

"How did you get this job?" one student shouted back, laughing.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.

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