In the late 1930s, Joseph Stalin casually commented to the director Sergei Eisenstein about his hero and role model Ivan the Terrible. Stalin said “One of Tsar Ivan the Terrible’s mistakes was that he did not finish off the five great feudal families.” The old boyars had to go because they could remember a time before Tsar Ivan. As he opined upon the mistakes of Ivan, he was busy eliminating some of the last of his important fellow revolutionaries who worked with Lenin. Stalin’s regime murdered nearly three times as many individuals as Nazi Germany.
As the “Boss” (as he liked to be called) said it himself, “the death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.”
Inset: Joseph Stalin shares a quiet moment with his daughter and secret police chief/mass murderer/child molester Lavrenti Beria
Like Hitler’s Holocaust, Stalin’s historical identity is his legacy of horror. Also like Hitler and the Holocaust, individuals on the fringe dedicate their lives to prove that history’s greatest crimes never happened. Very rarely does one find such an individual holding a respectable position on a college campus. Montclair State University’s Professor Grover Furr is one of these deniers.
In an interview with RevLeft, linked from the Daily Caller, Furr admits that Stalin probably committed some errors. He concedes that “Everybody makes mistakes. Stalin must have made some.” Furr blames the murder of hundreds of thousands on Nicolai Bukharin (who was later executed) and Nicolai Yezhov (who was also later executed.) The interview does not account for those killed by Stalin’s other secret police chiefs before and after Yezhov.
In a recent campus debate, Furr says that “I have spent many years researching this and similar questions and I have yet to find one crime… that Stalin committed.”
Furr’s specialty is medieval English literature, but he often teaches journalism classes. One current student on Ratemyprofessor.com described that “his 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.” Those who rated his class favorably usually emphasized its easiness.
The problem is not that students rate Furr poorly, which they do - often. Nor is it that he is a leftist. It is the fact that he teaches Stalinist apology that has as much basis in fact as the work of the Holocaust deniers. Furr would be better cast writing a play for Bialystock and Bloom than teaching that Stalin was not a murderer, just misunderstood.
Montclair State told the Daily Caller that this was a First Amendment issue. Wrong. He has the right to speak as he sees fit. But the First Amendment does not require the university to allow him to retain the privilege of teaching college.