A Montclair State University English professor has become a topic of great political controversy as a local journalist accused him of using his classroom as a breeding ground for his own political agenda.
An article published in FrontPage Magazine, an online forum for political columnists, said professor Grover Furr was one who "employs a simple ploy in ramming Marxism, glowing accounts of communism and anti-U.S. propaganda down his students' throats."
Rocco DiPippo, author of the article "Grover Furr: Worse than Ward Churchill," said he stumbled across Furr's path while researching a separate political issue and was astounded at the information he found.
Having investigated Furr for more than 60 hours, DiPippo said he decided to write the expository piece because he believes the professor constructs his courses to spread his political beliefs, something DiPippo said crosses the line.
Furr, who has been teaching at Montclair State for more than 20 years, didn't know the article had been published until he began receiving complaints from non-MSU related parties.
"I wasn't displeased or embarrassed about the article at all," Furr said. "His criticism doesn't claim that I made false statements, just that I said things he didn't like."
The one issue that Furr said he did have with the article was that DiPippo didn't make an effort to contact him to check his facts before writing the piece.
While DiPippo said that Furr has no credentials as a history teacher that would enable him to proctor a course on the Vietnam War, Furr said that having a Ph.D in Medeval Studies does make him a historian.
"How can anyone understand anything without understanding history?" Furr asked.
DiPippo, who began writing for FrontPage Magazine last June, also said that Furr's courses, such as "Great Books and Ideas," offer radical-left fare disguised as an introduction to great works of Western literature.
Through his research, DiPippo said that he discovered that the materials Furr uses in his courses are written by communists, present Marxist views and, in some cases, are no longer in print.
"There is no trace of intellectual diversity in Furr's so-called 'Great Books' course, nor are there any truly great books or ideas in it, just unadulterated Marxist pap that casts the West in a bad light," DiPippo said.
Required reading materials, as with any other professor, are the only way Furr said his own bias becomes evident, and that even then it would be impossible to thoroughly teach without discussing the politics behind the literature.
"I don't lecture my classes," Furr said. "I don't waste my students' time by making political statements. I wouldn't be able to earn the respect of my students if I did those things."
As for DiPippo's reference to the negative student comments about Furr on Rate My Professors, a website that allows students to rate their teachers and courses, Furr said he doesn't place stock in them.
According to Furr, there are no guarantees that comments such as, "He uses his classroom as a platform to teach his radical political views," and "Pretend to be a communist and [Furr will] think you're the greatest thing ever," are made by his actual students.
"That site is a place for students to gripe," Furr said. "It is useless because it doesn't provide information on how to better the course."
Rather than look to his rating on the site, Furr said he distributes his own course analysis for students to anonymously critique his class while giving suggestions on improvement.
DiPippo said he has received many responses to the article that applaud him for exposing what they believe are Furr's unethical teaching methods and attempts to indoctrinate students.
"I presented Furr's beliefs by using his own words, as they were, for what they were, to represent who he is," DiPippo said. "He is a problem in academia."
Furr said the reason DiPippo doesn't think he belongs in academia is because DiPippo, and other like-minded individuals, have the mindset that professors should teach what they're told, the way they're told to teach it.
"This article is simply DiPippo's way of riding over my dead body to fame," Furr said.