Under the guise of protecting “free speech,” a top university has allowed one of its instructors to teach students and work at the college, even though the school has received substantial evidence that the employee is an active white supremacist who has engaged in a campaign to threaten and harass an undergraduate student enrolled at the college, The Root has learned.
One of the conundrums at the forefront of the movement for white supremacy is the debate about free speech. Since the election of President Donald Trump, bloom“alt-right” activists who support racism have defended their actions by hiding behind the sacrosanct shield of the First Amendment. They have held up the unassailable right to freedom of expression to defend everything from tiki-torch terrorism in Charlottesville, Va., to individual harassment of anyone who objects to their white nationalist tactics.
Mark Neuhoff is a graduate student and technical-writing intern at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg. He earns money by working for the institution as a part-time instructor, teaching English composition to classes mostly composed of freshmen.
Mark Neuhoff is also a white supremacist.
Neuhoff admitted to the Roanoke Times that he posts on Facebook and other websites under the pseudonyms “Mark Daniel” and “Daniel Mark.” Because some people—including a certain writer at Bloomberg—may object to my classification of Neuhoff, I will allow him the opportunity to clarify his nuanced position on race:
Well, that clears that up.
As soon as the fall semester began, rumors began floating around campus that there was a white supremacist* working in the English department. As evidenced by the above screenshot, Neuhoff has never been hesitant about sharing his ideology on the superiority of the white man.
*If it seems like the phrase “white supremacy” appears too often, please remember that Neuhoff is adamant about separating “white supremacy” from terms like “white nationalist” and “racist” that are usually substituted for the phrase. He’s a strict segregationist, and I don’t want to mischaracterize him.
One particular undergraduate student, Tori Coan, was disturbed by Neuhoff’s casual racism and began looking into it. She began telling other people about him via social media.
On Aug. 23, “Mark Daniel” posted this on Facebook:
A few days later, on Aug. 25, the executive board for the United Feminist Movement at Virginia Tech, a club to which Coan belonged, began receiving emails from someone named Thaomy, who claimed to be Neuhoff’s wife, explaining that Mark was trying to redefine the phrase “white supremacist.” The board received another email a half hour after the first, asking Coan to meet with Neuhoff. A few minutes later the board received another, explaining how Neuhoff was bullied when he was younger, so he wants to believe there is good in everyone—even Nazis. Neuhoff and his purported wife really wanted to have a face-to-face meeting with Coan, for some reason.
Aside from trying to cajole the United Feminist Movement into arranging a meeting, the woman claiming to be Neuhoff’s wife began sending Coan messages via the Facebook Messenger app.
Coan did not meet with the self-confessed white supremacist. Instead, she met with administration officials at Virginia Tech. After she had multiple meetings with officials at the school, including the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of Equity and Access, the Cultural and Community Center and Patricia Perillo—the university’s vice president for student affairs—Virginia Tech took bold steps to do ... well ... absolutely nothing.
Frustrated by the inaction of Virginia Tech, Coan and other students eventually held a protest during a speech given by Virginia Tech President Timothy Sands on Sept. 29. When his speech was interrupted, Sands, whose entire defense of Neuhoff is his right to free speech, said, “This is not the time or place for this,” and had the students escorted out of the building.
So much for “free speech.”
That’s when things stopped getting weird and started getting scary for Tori Coan. Immediately after the protest, when the issue became a national story, Neuhoff’s unseen “wife” emailed the United Feminist Movement again, but this time
his her tone was much less conciliatory. The email called Coan a “coward,” “stupid,” “immature” and a “college-educated asshole” and wondered why Coan was apprehensive about meeting Neuhoff face-to-face.
In early September, New River Against Fascism published a post outlining Neuhoff’s white supremacist leanings, including evidence that he was the person connected to the “Mark Daniel” and “Daniel Mark” profiles, along with Neuhoff’s efforts to have his racist diatribes scrubbed from the internet.
This was apparently “tew much” for Neuhoff. There is no way of knowing if Neuhoff thought Coan was behind the post, but his mysterious bride became very upset with Coan, calling her several times and sending her a number of text messages, including the ones below:
The same day, someone put a post on Reddit that has since been removed, titled, “WANTED: Tori Coward Coan AKA the fat ugly turd clown.” While it is not known if Neuhoff was the author of this post, it suspiciously contains some of the same slurs and insults found in emails and text messages from Neuhoff’s “wife.” The user who posted it, Telldatruthsob, seems to have only commented on Reddit posts about Coan and loves using the word “coward” and “scum” to describe Coan.
As all of this was going on, the “Daniel Mark” Facebook profile (who we cannot say definitively is Mark Neuhoff, but who refers to Mark Neuhoff in the first person) posted Tori Coan’s phone number and told his followers to “fuck her up” without mentioning his name.
Immediately afterward, Coan received at least 50 phone calls from blocked numbers in less than an hour. Coan again took her concerns to the administration. To date, Neuhoff has been neither suspended nor fired, or even taken out of the classroom.
To be fair, Neuhoff has not been charged with a crime; nor has anyone found him guilty of anything, and he should enjoy his constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech. There is no law against believing in white supremacy, and the right to say whatever you want is one of the founding principles of democracy. But Virginia Tech seems to have gone the extra step in protecting Neuhoff’s free speech.
It is apparently more important than the safety and concerns of the number of students who contacted The Root about this story. Apparently, Neuhoff’s right to white supremacy is more important than the rights of Tori Sloan and the other VT students who were dragged out for protesting the president. Neuhoff’s racism seemingly outweighs the right of the students he teaches to have a professor who isn’t inherently biased. It is apparently more important than the rights of the professors in the English department, some of whom told us that they don’t feel comfortable speaking publicly about the controversy, considering how the university has gone out of its way to protect a white supremacist.
As for Coan, she says, “I’m concerned first and foremost about my safety. I don’t feel safe on campus.” What she struggles with most of all, though, is how Virginia Tech can allow a white supremacist to influence the minds of its students without supervision. “Somebody who believes a certain group of people are inherently inferior cannot be a nonbiased teacher,” she explains, adding:
This has taken a toll on both my mental and physical health, and I just don’t understand why the university continues to protect a white supremacist.
I’ve done exactly what someone is supposed to do when they are harassed. Yet it’s a month later and we’re talking about; it’s still not enough.
The Root reached out to Neuhoff and officials from Virginia Tech but thus far has received no response. Neuhoff, in claims on social media and now deleted social media posts, claims that Coan is the one who has harassed, gossiped about and lied about him. After noticing that Coan hit “like” on anti-fascist groups’ social media posts, he accused her of joining forces with Antifa groups who have threatened him. He has repeatedly made the claim that Coan has lied on him by ... umm ... calling him a white supremacist, I guess.
But Mark Neuhoff still gets to teach students every day at Virginia Tech. Maybe it is a free speech issue. Maybe Virginia Tech doesn’t care that one of its employees has doxxed, harassed and threatened an undergraduate student. Maybe the university feels comfortable taking money from black and brown students and giving it to a racist.
Perhaps the school is just waiting for Mark Neuhoff to do to Tori Sloan what he has publicly suggested:
Fuck her up.
Or, just maybe, Virginia Tech wants to do it themselves.