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Professor under fire for rant at Republicans

7:31 AM, Sep 5, 2013   |    comments
Michigan State University professor William Penn is under fire from conservatives after Campus Reform released a video of him railing against Republicans on the first day of a creative writing class. (Photo: Screen grab via YouTube)
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DETROIT -- A noted writing professor at Michigan State University is under fire from conservatives after he was recorded by a student railing against Republicans and "closet racists" in class last week.

Campus Reform, a conservative group that monitors what it sees as liberal bias at universities, released the video Tuesday that it says shows professor William Penn on the first day of a creative writing class Aug. 29 attacking Republicans for having "raped" the country.

"If you go to the Republican convention in Florida, you see all of the old Republicans with the dead skin cells washing off them," the professor is heard saying in the video. "They are cheap. They don't want to pay taxes because they have already raped this country and gotten everything out of it they possibly could."

The anonymous student who made the recording appears to be sitting in the class at Michigan State.

"This country still is full of closet racists," Penn tells his class in the video. "What do you think is going on in South Carolina and North Carolina? - voter suppression. It's about getting black people not to vote. Why? Because black people tend to vote Democratic."

Penn is a noted Native American writer and scholar who authored several books that often deal with issues of identity and stereotypes. He has won several grants and awards over the years, including an American Book Award in 2001 and Native American Writer of the Year in nonfiction from the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers in 1997.

Kent Cassella, an MSU spokesman, said Wednesday that the university "is aware of the situation ... and the Office of the Provost is reviewing it. At MSU, it is important the classroom environment is conducive to a free exchange of ideas and is respectful of the opinions of others."

Penn, who at one point in the video is heard admonishing a student who apparently was frowning in disagreement, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

In his remarks in the class, he said: "If you're a Republican, forgive me. If your parents are Republican, forgive me. They won't and I don't care."

The class then chuckles.

"I absolutely don't mean to offend you," the professor added. "Even if you're a Republican, I don't mean to offend you in this class."

Campus Reform is a project of The Leadership Institute, a Virginia-based nonprofit that promotes conservative causes.



Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press

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