A graduate student and teaching instructor at Virginia Tech has been discovered to be an avowed white supremacist, but university officials have yet to take any action to dismiss him.
Mark Neuhoff, who teaches English composition at the university part-time, was discovered in late September to have posted a series of racist comments on social media. “I want white supremacy,” one post read. “Whites must be in control if we are to preserve western culture. Categorically, no other race can do it.”
A group calling itself New River Valley Against Fascism obtained screenshots of Neuhoff’s social media posts and published them in a September 26 blog post. They include multiple comments about Holocaust denial, as well as one post about how Neuhoff managed to get himself banned from the infamous neo-Nazi site Stormfront for talking about the importance of having free speech in a White Nationalist society.
When asked by the Roanoke Times to explain the posts, Neuhoff said that they were an accurate reflection his beliefs. “All of the posts are private for a specific audience who knows and understands who I am,” Neuhoff said. “What I was doing with my posts was trying to redefine the term that is destructive and shuts someone down — white supremacist.”
On September 29, a small group of protesters interrupted Virginia Tech President Tim Sands’ annual State of the University speech, criticizing his refusal to dismiss Neuhoff. One of the protesters, Tori Coan, had filed a complaint earlier in September claiming that Neuhoff had personally targeted her, and that she had received more than 70 phone calls from a blocked number. Police have now requested transcripts of all of Neuhoff’s Facebook activity between August 20 and October 13, as part of an investigation into the charge of threatening death or bodily injury.
On October 6, after an antifascist demonstration outside Neuhoff’s classroom, President Tim Sands released a statement. “Virginia Tech’s administration… find the ideology encompassed by white supremacy, neo-fascism, neo-Nazism, and others to be abhorrent and to have no place in modern society,” he said. “We also remain committed to our policies and procedures that prohibit disrupting, teaching, learning, research, and the operation of the university.”
Neuhoff, in other words, has not been let go. He remains an instructor on campus, despite a growing outcry from both students and alumni. A petition calling for the removal of Neuhoff from his teaching position has collected nearly 3,000 signatures.
Of course, white supremacy has long had a place in academia. Think of the role of “science” in the eugenics movement, for example, or more recently, the textbook that called slaves in the United States “workers” and “immigrants.” There are also several high-profile white supremacists in academia. Last December, the philosophy department at the State University of New York at Stony Brook flew into an uproar after it emerged that Jason Reza Jorjani, a Ph.D alumnus, was heavily involved with the white supremacist movement. Jorjani, who says he has “disavowed” his previous white nationalist allegiances, was caught on tape about how he envisioned a future where Europe embraces fascism.
“It’s going to end with the expulsion of the majority of migrants including citizens, who are of Muslim descent, generally” Jorjani told an undercover researcher from the British charity Hope Not Hate. “That’s how it’s going to end. It’s going to end with concentration camps and expulsion and war. At the cost of a few hundred million people.”