On the surface, Marshall DeRosa’s résumé is extraordinary. He graduated magna cum laude from West Virginia University as an undergraduate and went on to receive a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Houston. He has served as a professor teaching constitutional law and political theory for more than three decades in some of the largest and most prestigious universities. DeRosa has written three books, and for the past 28 years, he has taught at Florida Atlantic University.
And Marshall DeRosa is a white supremacist.
It is easy to throw that accusation around without forethought, but in this case, it is much deserved. While teaching at Florida Atlantic, for at least nine years, DeRosa was also a member of the neo-Confederate hate group League of the South, founded by White Citizens’ Council activist and Ku Klux Klan advocate Jack Kershaw.
Between 2000 and 2009, DeRosa taught “The Southern Constitutional Tradition” for the League of the South Institute’s summer school, which was the educational arm of the Mary Noel Kershaw Foundation, named after Kershaw’s wife.
Even after 2009, DeRosa continued to promote his neo-Confederate sympathies in his writings. In a 2017 essay, “Confederate Case Law: The Rule of Law, Not of Men,” Derosa contended that white supremacy was not the reason for slavery, and taking away the property rights of slave owners was illegal.
You’re probably thinking, “Well, defending white supremacy and slavery doesn’t necessarily make DeRosa a white supremacist.” While you might be technically correct, it is upon whose shoulders DeRosa places the blame that is most interesting.
It is all black people’s fault.
According to Marshall DeRosa, “black supremacy” is responsible for slavery, racism and the fall of the old South.
“The tar-baby in any defense of the Confederacy is slavery, which has segued into white supremacy,” explained the professor (yes, he went there with “tar baby”). DeRosa continued:
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. In other words, it was a political question not a judicial one.
Current public opinion equating the Confederacy with slavery/white supremacy dismally fails to recognize the core value of the Confederacy, that core value being the rule of law.
DeRosa is so intent on reviving his beloved Confederacy, he blames everything on black people and the end of slavery, including:
- The death of Michael Brown Jr.: “The death of Michael Brown is another example of the political class’ failure to ameliorate the disastrous consequences of Mr. Lincoln’s war,” writes DeRosa. His 2014 “Ferguson” essay describes black people as living “in urban combat zones designed, funded, and perpetuated by none other than Uncle Sam” and who are “convinced that racism is in the DNA of white Americans.”
- The mischaracterization of the Confederate flag: In “Southerners Not Welcome,” his 2014 article about a California bill outlawing the sale of the Confederate flag, DeRosa says the law “exemplifies the ignorance about what the Battle Flag genuinely symbolizes today for most folks that honor it” because some “States denigrate the history, culture, and dignity of other States.”
- The rise of Donald Trump: DeRosa calls Trump an “intelligent man” whose presidency “may result in preoccupying the ruling class to the extent that the focus on things Southern, e.g., the Battle Flag, may dissipate. This might just provide Southern patriots with the space to regroup and be better prepared for the next assault on their culture.”
- Transgender people and homosexuality: In “Caitlyn Jenner and the New South” DeRosa explains that Caitlyn Jenner “will never be a woman. 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.”
DeRosa also runs a prison education program at Florida Atlantic University funded by the Charles Koch Foundation, one-half of the wealthy pair of siblings who use their billions to reach into schools and government.
DeRosa also works with the Mises Institute, which employs a number of League of the South academics and was founded by LOS charter member Llewellyn Rockwell. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the Mises Institute as one of many“neo-Confederate” organizations.
Un-Koch My Campus shows that Mises scholars have received at least $14.6 million between 2005 and 2016 from the Charles Koch Foundation, including $51,000 paid to DeRosa since between 2013 and 2016 (pdf). DeRosa has advocated for smaller government and a constitutional convention to rewrite the Constitution, a brand of “paleo-conservatism” long backed by the Koch brothers.
Needless to say, students at Florida Atlantic are not too happy with the discovery of a billionaire-backed white supremacist teaching on their campus.
When confronted by FAU students, DeRosa denied the accusations that he was a white supremacist, adding, “I don’t care what you believe,” and claiming that he will “root out” the faculty members who have “weaponized” his words.
He was soon broken down to his white (supremacist) meat by a black graduate student during a contentious exchange.
“I do want the faculty here to know that we employ someone with white supremacist ties,” the student, identified as Johnathan Jackson, exclaimed while constantly warning DeRosa not to interrupt. “There are students here who are black, who are queer, who are Muslim, and we don’t deserve to hear one side of a political agenda.”
Florida Atlantic said that it is reviewing the complaints but added that it “maintains its commitments to the value of diversity and to the principles of nonviolent civil discourse and academic freedom, which encourage the free exchange of ideas fundamental to a democratic society.”
The university did not add, “What do you want us to do? He’s white!”