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Video: MSU professor's classes 're-assigned' after anti-Republican tirade
EAST LANSING — An award-winning novelist who told students that Republicans have "raped this country" lost his fall teaching assignments at Michigan State University after acknowledging the remarks were offensive, the school said Thursday.
William Penn, whose writings often focus on his American Indian heritage, welcomed his students last week with an attack on Republicans as cheap, greedy and old.
His remarks were captured on video by a student and posted online by Campus Reform, which is affiliated with the Leadership Institute, a conservative group based in Arlington, Va.
According to the video, Penn told students, "If you go to the Republican convention in Florida, you see all of the old Republicans with the dead skin cells washing off them. 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."
Penn said the United States "still is full of closet racists" who try to keep blacks from voting.
"If you're a Republican, forgive me," he told students. "If your parents are Republicans, forgive me. They won't, and I don't care."
Penn didn't return messages seeking comment Thursday. He told WDIV-TV that he's taught at Michigan State for 26 years.
"I love this university, and I always have liked my students — period," said Penn, who declined to explain why he attacked Republicans.
Penn met with his bosses and "acknowledged that some of his comments were inappropriate, disrespectful and offensive and may have negatively affected the learning environment," Michigan State spokesman Kent Cassella said.
"Penn's teaching duties have been re-assigned to others. Students' education will continue as scheduled with alternate instructors," Cassella said.
Penn was expected to teach at least two classes at the East Lansing campus.
He's a full professor with tenure and will still collect an annual salary of approximately $150,000. It's not known whether he will teach during the winter term.
Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak said Penn should resign.
"This is exactly why we are engaging students on college campuses across the state. Young conservatives should not feel isolated or outcast simply because they are Republicans," Schostak said. "This is a public institution, funded by taxpayers, and this type of bullying is inexcusable."