Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Open Letter to NJ State Governor's office

I am writing to complain about a New Jersey State Employee, Grover Furr.  Mr. Furr is a teacher at Montclair State University, who holds extremist pro-Stalinist views.  For Mr. Furr, Stalin never did anything wrong, and was never responsible for orchestrating the deaths of millions of his own innocent citizens. He promotes the idea that the Katyn massacre of Polish officers was not committed by Stalin's NKVD and that the Soviet Union never invaded Poland in 1939.  He contends that the man-made famine, Holodomor, which caused the deaths of millions of Ukrainian peasants, was not organized and carried out by Stalin and his henchmen.

For example, he recently claimed at a debate at Montclair State that “I have yet to find one crime — yet to find one crime — that Stalin committed.”  Mr. Furr should be dismissed as a nut and relegated, along with Holocaust deniers, pedophiles and racists, to the backwaters of the Internet where he can write his polemics to his heart’s content. 

While he has a right to his opinions, he has no right to foist his opinions on the students of Montclair State taking his literature classes, or to post his extremist views on a New Jersey state web site. Unfortunately, in doing so, Mr. Furr is expressing these opinions in his capacity as a New Jersey State employee. 

Mr. Furr does not hold a degree in history or political science, nor does he have any formal training in these disciplines.  He is a member of Montclair State’s English Department.   As an English Professor, he is charged with teaching English Literature.  Instead he engages in political indoctrination and defends one of history's greatest mass murderers thru falsehoods and outrageous fictions.  He is abusing his students and violating the sacred trust granted him as a member of Montclair State's faculty. By the students’ own statements his classes are an endless indoctrination into his unsubstantiated communist theories.  This is made clear from a perusal of such web sites as Rate My Professor.  For example, a student that took his course, Eng. 101,  states:   "after extensive research did not find a single wrong thing that Stalin did... if that does not sound like a nut in a nutshell...”  Here is a review from the ENLT 206 class, “Absolutely horrible.  Everything was done by email. Homework was useless. The class had nothing to do with its title--"the coming of age theme." It was about politics and communism. I am NEVER taking a class taught by him again.”  This next quote perhaps says it best, “He taught very little, if anything, about the History of Journalism. Most of the reading material was biased from the extreme left. It's good to be passionate about your views, but keep them out of the classroom.”

Mr. Furr is doing a great disservice to both Montclair State University and the State of New Jersey.  Further, he is abusing defenseless students, who have no choice but to sit and listen to his ramblings about the joys of Stalinist era communism. 

Mr. Furr uses the Montclair State official web page to promote his historically unsupported doctrines.  To make matters worse, Mr. Furr is trading on his title as a professor at Montclair State to give him and his ideas credibility.  For example, he wrote an article for the Platypus Affiliated Society, which can be found on his official Montclair State web page, titled “Learning from the Communist Movement of the 20th Century a Response to Richard Rubin.”  Platypus claims that “Grover Furr is a professor at Montclair State University, is active in the Radical Caucus of the MLA, and the author of several essays, including “(Un)critical Reading and the Discourse of Anti-communism, Protest, Rebellion, Commitment: Then and Now,” and “Stalin and the Struggle for Democratic Reform.”  There is no mention the he teaches English and has no training in history.  To gain credibility, it is enough for him to simply state that he is a professor at Montclair State.  In another article on his web page translated into Russian he holds himself out as a “Doctor of Philosophy – Professor at Montclair University.” “ ГРОВЕР ФЕРР доктор философии, профессор Монклерского университета”  Is the shoddy scholarship that Mr. Furr produces in copious quantities what Montclair State and the New Jersey’s higher education system want to be known for? 

Mr. Furr is an embarrassment to Montclair State and to the education system of New Jersey.  Surely, he deserves to be terminated, not so much for his beliefs, but rather for being an especially bad teacher.  I have corresponded with the Chairperson of his department, Emily Isaacs and with Frank J. Schwartz, assistant to the president.  Both Ms. Isaacs and Mr. Schwartz have provided me with essentially the same reply.  Simply, that it is Mr. Furr’s first amendment right to say anything he wants.  It is the position of the English Department and the office of the president of Montclair State that Mr. Furr, in his capacity as an employee of Montclair State and by extension the State of New Jersey, has an absolute first amendment right to say anything he likes.  It is further their position that even though Grover Furr is in the English Department of Montclair State, he can continue teaching his radical theories concerning Stalinism as part of the English Department’s curriculum.  Montclair State claims that it is powerless to make Mr. Furr stay on topic and teach English.  Finally, it is Montclair State’s position that Grover Furr has an unlimited and unqualified first amendment right to post anything on his official Montclair web page regardless of how inaccurate or offensive it might be.  In fact, Mr. Schwartz is rather proud of Mr. Furr, in an email he wrote: “One of the most important functions of any university is to serve as a sounding board for ideas and opinions.  To that end, it is critical that we permit any perspective to be voiced.” Apparently, Mr. Schwartz is unable to distinguish scholarship from propaganda and English literature from communist diatribes.

I believe we can do better than this.  I am writing to ask for your help.  I am asking that you take steps that will lead to the immediate termination of Grover Furr.  At an absolute minimum, Mr. Furr should be required to teach English in English class and to remove all posts from his official web page that are not part of the English Department’s curriculum. Would you allow this to continue if he were a Holocaust denier, a pedophile or racist??????

I thank you in advance for your assistance.