At an on-campus debate hosted by the libertarian Young Americans for Liberty, professor Grover Furr of Montclair State University (MSU) declared that he has not found a single crime committed by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.
One member of the audience questioned the legitimacy of Furr’s position in light of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s 1956 apology for the mass murders that took place under Stalin’s leadership.
“It’s bullshit,” said Furr, who authored Khrushchev Lied, in which he writes that none of Khrushchev’s charges against Stalin were true. “I have spent many years researching this and similar questions and I have yet to find one crime… that Stalin committed.”
Furr’s emphatic statement was received with gasps from the crowd, which was gathered to witness a debate between Furr, Dr. David Tubbs and Dr. Yuri Maltsev — a liberal, conservative and libertarian, respectively.
Todd Seavey, host of New York’s Dionysium variety and philosophy events, moderated the debate. Seavey previewed the event with a link from his Twitter feed, in which he disclosed that Furr had denounced one of Seavey’s own college acquaintances, Tim Snyder, because the two have written on opposing sides of the Stalin issue.
Furr specializes in medieval English literature at MSU, the second-largest university in New Jersey, and has written extensively on Stalin’s regime and what he says is the distorted view most of the world has about Stalin’s true ambitions for his country.
Furr gave an interview on the subject in which he alleged that a right-wing conspiracy against Stalin, organized by Nikolai Yezhov, the leader of the Soviet Union’s secret police, led to the mass genocide that was carried out during Stalin’s regime as a means to remove him from his position. He also says that many Soviets have a favorable view of Stalin.
Furr, a graduate of McGill University in Montreal, told the audience that while both American and Canadian history is falsified, Soviet history is falsified the most.
“This is the big lie: that the Communists – that Stalin — killed millions of people, and that socialism is no good,” Furr said.
Furr went on to say that the U.S. has the lowest standard of living of any of the industrialized countries, and that it should have socialist healthcare — a statement that was received with a medley of applause, laughter and booing.
Seavey asked Dr. Maltsev, an ex-Soviet, to weigh in on subject.
Maltsev quoted Stalin, who he sarcastically called a “great humanist.”
“Stalin used to say, ‘Death of one person is a tragedy; death of a million, just statistic.’”
Young Americans for Liberty Executive Director Jeff Frazee issued a statement on Furr’s remarks, saying, “The suggestion that Joseph Stalin, one of the most brutal mass murderers in history, didn’t commit any crimes is outrageous. This is what is being taught at a public university with taxpayer money.”
Furr has yet to respond to requests for a statement about his comments or the reaction to them.
A statement obtained by The Daily Caller from MSU defended the First Amendment rights of the individual:
Montclair State University is an open university in what is fortunately a free society. As a consequence, we would never seek to censor or interfere with such an event, no matter how absurd anyone might find some of the views expressed. Free speech is the cornerstone of our democracy, and it is a principle that is easy to defend when we are in agreement with, or at least not offended by, the views being expressed. We are only really tested in our adherence to the principle when the views being expressed are abhorrent to us.