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Campus shocked over professor’s Nazi views

Fairleigh Dickinson University professor Jacques Pluss says he was dismissed in March because university officials learned of his involvement in the National Socialist Movement, which bills itself “America’s Nazi Party.”
/ Source: The Associated Press

Jordan Ingram always thought his history professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University was a little quirky.

Jacques Pluss certainly had an unusual style, Ingram recalled. But Ingram, who is black, never thought his professor was a racist — until after Pluss was fired.

Pluss said he was dismissed in March because university officials learned of his involvement in the National Socialist Movement, which bills itself “America’s Nazi Party.” School officials said he was let go for missing too many classes.

The 51-year-old professor bristles when he is called a white supremacist or racist.

“The world is made up of different cultures, all of which have a place, all of which have a direction and all of which should have a say in determining their own futures,” he said.

University officials declined to elaborate on Pluss’ ouster. It was unclear what role — if any — Pluss’ political views played in the decision.

Pluss, who had taught at the university since 2002, said he joined the neo-Nazi group in February but kept his views a secret on campus.

Derogatory comments about school, athletes
Just after dismissal, Pluss went on “White Viewpoint,” a radio show on the National Socialist Movement Web site. He talked about FDU as a “Jewish plutocratic university” and described the school’s men’s basketball team as “nigger to the core.”

“They (the players) have absolutely no right to be in that classroom because they do not possess either the merit or the enhanced intelligence to be there,” Pluss said on the show.

Those views shocked many of Pluss’ former students, including Ingram, a sophomore who earned a B-plus in the professor’s Western Civilization class.

Ingram had thought so highly of Pluss that he considered asking him for a recommendation for a job or academic program. His opinion quickly changed.

“To come in every day and know you’re going to have class with a white supremacist, that’s definitely going to affect me,” Ingram said.

Fairleigh Dickinson, a private, liberal arts college, emphasizes diversity and teaching with an international perspective. It has frequent guest speakers from the United Nations, and about 1,000 of the school’s roughly 10,000 students come from outside the United States.

A university is within its rights to remove faculty members for their political views under certain circumstances, said Robert Kreiser, a senior program officer at the Washington-based American Association of University Professors.

For example, if Pluss had given misinformation about the Holocaust, Kreiser said, that would be a legitimate cause for dismissal.

Holocaust should be 're-examined'
Pluss said he questioned the way the Holocaust is described as the killing of 6 million Jews in Nazi concentration camps.

“I don’t deny that a Jewish Holocaust of some kind occurred,” he said. “However, I do believe that the Holocaust needs to be re-examined from a general vantage point.”

Pluss said he joined the National Socialist Movement because he “was looking for alternative political parties that presented what I thought were more solid and sensible plans for the common good of America.”

The group, whose members wear Nazi regalia at its meetings, sometimes has joint meetings with the Ku Klux Klan.

The party’s 25-point platform includes limiting U.S. citizenship to non-Jewish, straight whites. Nonwhites should not be allowed to enter the country and those already here should be “required to leave the nation forthwith and return to their land of origin: peacefully or by force,” it states.

Some former students did not think Pluss’ views influenced his teaching, however.

Only in retrospect did Sharrod Young, a sophomore who had a class with Pluss in 2003, see signs of discrimination.

“When it was two people raising their hands, he called on certain students. It just so happened it was white males,” said Young, who is black.

Pluss, who received a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, is being paid through this semester. Adjunct professors at the school generally make between $1,500 and $3,000 per course.