The Virginia Tech teaching instructor accused of being an avowed white supremacist has apologized for his beliefs, but maintains that they have also been oversimplified and distorted.
Mark Daniel Neuhoff, who previously taught English composition, was discovered in September to have posted a series of inflammatory, racist comments on social media. “I want white supremacy,” one post read. “Whites must be in control if we are to preserve Western culture.” Neuhoff went on to describe how America had been “hijacked by Judeo-Talmudic supremacists and thus are culture has become Judaized.”
The posts caused a storm of controversy at Virginia Tech. A collection of former graduate students introduced a petition to remove Neuhoff from his position. Protestors interrupted President Tim Sand’s annual State of the University speech, criticizing his failure to condemn Neuhoff. Meanwhile, the student who discovered Neuhoff’s posts, Tori Coan, has accused Neuhoff of encouraging his friends to dox her. She received more than 70 phone calls from a blocked number. Neuhoff denies this, and Blacksburg Police are investigating.
In an interview with ThinkProgress however, Neuhoff said he had disavowed white supremacy. The posts, he explained, were made over several years when he was still trying to form his political ideology. He now says he considers himself a paleoconservative, like Pat Buchanan. “I think that white supremacy, as we understand it, [is an ideology] that we are superior to others in some way, with violent connotations,” he said. “That’s wrong. I abhor all violence.” He added that he thought white supremacist organizations like Vanguard America are full of “cancerous, toxic people. I denounce them.”
“I want to live in a society surrounded by best people that are going to reject any sort of backwardness,” he continued. “[What white supremacists want] is to go into the woods and build a new town. I think that’s what they want, and it’s unrealistic and stupid.”
Neuhoff was also keen to apologize for a Facebook profile picture which featured the caption “Good Night Left Side” with an outline of a Dodge Challenger, the same kind of car that James Alex Fields used to kill Charlottesville protester Heather Heyer during August’s Unite The Right rally. “I’m really sorry about that, it’s bad taste,” Neuhoff said. “I shouldn’t have done that.”
But while Neuhoff rejected the explicit white nationalism of the groups that had marched in Charlottesville, he also maintained several beliefs which are extremely common among white nationalists, notably questioning the Holocaust. “The way we look at the Holocaust is unscientific and unhistorical”, he said. “The primary evidence is eyewitness testimony, not material evidence. Chemically speaking, it is unlikely that Zyklon B was used, and records show that Germany had them as prisoners to deport to Madagascar.”
Neuhoff also seemed to go back-and-forth on his beliefs about multiculturalism in the United States. On the one hand, he admitted that African Americans were “crucial to the development of the [United States]… with an unique cultural legacy” and that America “had always had a multiracial heritage.” On the other hand he was extremely concerned about “flooding the nation with migrants,” the prospect of whites becoming a minority in the U.S., and ethnic groups showing pride in their homeland (like La Raza). Neuhoff also seemed to downplay the potential implications of a hypothetically white supremacist society, describing it, in its ideal form, as “just a society where white Europeans make the key decisions.”
Since the discovery of Neuhoff’s posts, he has removed himself from social media and deleted accounts, and he said he is frightened of Antifa. “I’ve started to feel on the left there’s increasing violence,” he said. “I have no idea who these people are, it’s terrifying.” He says he will not be teaching next semester, but helping to design and research a class on freedom of speech.
Neuhoff’s own vagaries over his views on whether and how Americans should approach multiculturalism is a trait often seen in fringe right-wing ideologues, who often backpedal on their professed beliefs — or tough-guy image — after they are exposed to outside audiences. Neuhoff said that he’d learned from this incident that white supremacist language which people spoke in online spaces like 4chan didn’t translate well to the real world. He further explained the appeal of his beliefs by citing Paul Joseph’s assertion that “conservatism is the new punk rock, giving the middle finger to the people saying you can’t do this or say that.”
For Neuhoff, the problem is that there are now a lot of middle fingers pointing right back.