Koch Brothers Fund White Nationalist Professor at FAU | Miami New Times


Kochs and Prisons Fund FAU Professor With White Nationalist Ties, Report Says

Marshall DeRosa is a professor of political science at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. As part of a program funded by the Charles Koch Institute and the Boca-based private-prison giant the GEO Group, DeRosa gets paid to spout his ideas to inmates at GEO's South Bay Correctional Facility.
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Marshall DeRosa is a professor of political science at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. As part of a program funded by the Charles Koch Institute and the Boca-based private-prison giant the GEO Group, DeRosa gets paid to spout his ideas to inmates at GEO's South Bay Correctional Facility.

But there's an even bigger issue with DeRosa than his funding sources: From 2000 to 2009, he was also a professor at the League of the South Institute, the educational arm of the outright white nationalist League of the South, which says it wants to secede from the United States and create a society controlled by white Christians. DeRosa also remains affiliated with the Abbeville Institute, which is named for the birthplace of John C. Calhoun, the ardently pro-slavery former vice president from South Carolina. In his own writings, DeRosa has written essays praising the Confederacy while dismissing the fact that the Rebels waged a war for whites so they could continue owning black people.

"The mark of an advanced civilization is the rule of law, with the highest being the rule of law that protects life, liberty, and property," DeRosa wrote last year. "Based upon this standard, the Confederate States of America embodied an advanced Christian civilization."

These details were disclosed yesterday in a report from the activist group UnKoch My Campus, which tracks the Koch brothers' gigantic network of academic donations. The Kochs are notorious for funding right-wing, so-called free-market, and libertarian professors at college campuses across the nation, but the latest report from UnKoch notes that the Charles Koch Institute is funding a full-fledged network of professors with neo-Confederate leanings or outright ties to white nationalist organizations. UnKoch reported that the Kochs fund right-wing professors at Florida Gulf Coast University in Estero and Florida Southern College in Lakeland too. (The Nation magazine first published news of the UnKoch report yesterday.)

DeRosa did not respond to a message from New Times. But speaking to the Nation, he said he left the League of the South Institute after the group became too "radical" for his liking.

"That was a long time ago," he told the magazine. "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.”

But League of the South members have loudly defended the enslavement of black people since at least the 1990s, according to the hate-tracking Southern Poverty Law Center. The Nation also notes the League of the South Institute has had direct ties to violent white nationalists from its inception:

The League of the South Institute is “the educational branch of the Mary Noel Kershaw Foundation,” named after the wife of the late Jack Kershaw, longtime leader within the violent White Citizens Council and founding board member of the League of the South. In 1998, Kershaw erected a statue of Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest and declared, “Somebody needs to say a good word for slavery. Where in the world are the Negroes better off today than in America?”

The revelations about DeRosa mark yet another staffing controversy for FAU, which until 2016 employed conspiracy theorist James Tracy, who gained fame on the internet for fraudulently claiming the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre was staged by the government. The university fired him in 2016 for what the school says was incorrectly filed paperwork, but the termination came after a long public campaign to strip Tracy of his job. The parents of one Sandy Hook victim said Tracy had been personally harassing them.

FAU did not respond to a message from New Times yesterday.

DeRosa earned a bachelor's degree at West Virginia University and a master's and doctorate from the University of Houston; he taught at Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia and Louisiana State University before joining FAU in 1990. His reviews on ratemyprofessor.com range from raving to poor, but two students noted DeRosa is "waaaay conservative," has "a conservative bent," and "considers the Kinsey Report [on human sexual habits and same-sex desires] one of the most harmful books from the 19th and 20th Century."

According to New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer's biography of the Kochs in her book Dark Money, the billionaires have appreciated the far right for nearly a century. In fact, the family traces some of its worth directly back to collaborating with Nazi Germany. Mayer reported in 2016 that family patriarch Fred C. Koch joined American Nazi sympathizer William Rhodes Davis to build the third-largest oil refinery in Nazi Germany. The project was directly approved by Adolf Hitler and was used to power the Third Reich's army. Mayer reported that the eldest Koch also helped build oil plants for the Soviet Union's Josef Stalin.

By the 1960s, Charles Koch (son of Fred C. Koch and brother of Fred R., David, and William Koch) was a stalwart member of the John Birch Society, a group of fringe hard-right conspiracy theorists who were convinced that Communists and Marxists were attempting to overthrow the U.S. government and had infected elite levels of American society. Koch left the Birchers after the group announced its opposition to the Vietnam War, but the family's support for the hard right has never waned: Charles and David Koch, who are two of the 15 richest people on Earth, have used their vast fortunes to push politicians, the public, and university professors farther toward their hard-core libertarian and paleoconservative beliefs.

In fact, the League of the South itself was founded in 1994 by a member of the Center for Libertarian Studies, which the Nation noted was founded in 1976 partly using Koch seed money. (Members of the Florida League of the South, including state leader Michael Tubbs and Miami resident Chris "Cedeno" Monzon, attended 2017's Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Tubbs is a former Green Beret who was arrested in 1987 for stockpiling military weapons to give to the Ku Klux Klan. Monzon was arrested in 2017 for trying to use an American flagstaff to stab a civil rights protester. Another League member was charged with beating a black man at the Charlottesville rally.)

DeRosa's credentials are right up the Koch family's ideological alley. In 2017, DeRosa argued in a paper that prisoners should be subjected to right-wing viewpoints before leaving jail and that if the nation's prison population were turned sufficiently conservative, Republicans should fight to give felons the right to vote.

DeRosa's main historical focus appears to be the Confederacy. Writing for the Abbeville Institute, he praised portions of the Confederacy in 2015 and said the slave-owning Southern states were actually good for Native Americans living there. (DeRosa fails to mention that the Choctaw tribespeople who joined the Confederate cause were also slave owners.)

"In other words, had the Confederacy survived, the Southern people and its Native American allies would not be subject to the ideological whims of nine lawyers occupying their all too powerful positions on the U.S. Supreme Court," DeRosa wrote.

In a 2015 essay titled "Caitlyn Jenner and the New South," DeRosa attempts to argue that both transgenderism and the postbellum, non-slaveholding Southern states are unnatural and in conflict with a Christian God.

"Bruce will never be a woman," DeRosa wrote of the former athlete who publicly transitioned to female in 2015. "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."

But perhaps no essay is more repugnant than a piece DeRosa wrote in August 2017 — "Confederate Case Law: The Rule of Law, Not of Men" — in which he appears to argue that slavery might have been OK because it was legal at the time.

"The tar-baby in any defense of the Confederacy is slavery, which has segued into 'white supremacy,'" DeRosa wrote. "That issue will be addressed in subsequent Confederate case law. But for now, suffice it to say that 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. Second, after subjugated as slaves, the North American slave owners, black and white, had a property right in the labor of the slaves. The conundrum for the rule of law was that although slavery is morally reprehensible, it was legal."
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