The last time we met Jacques Pluss, a former history professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University who was fired after his ties to neo-Nazism surfaced in 2005, he was in the midst of a serious identity crisis. One minute, he was an avowed white supremacist proudly standing behind his statements, only to claim in the next that he was an academic sleuth infiltrating the world of racists.
That debate was apparently settled this week when the New Jersey State Police arrested Pluss, 57, on charges he threatened Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Police began looking at Pluss after the ADL gave them E-mails Foxman had received from Pluss, who was charged with intimidation, harassment, weapons possession and contempt of a judicial order on Wednesday. He was held at the Bergen County Jail before being released on a $25,000 bail.
Investigators said Pluss’ neo-Nazi ties were unquestionable, and that he had frequently visited neo-Nazi Web pages.
It’s hard to imagine the jowled and graying Pluss, long a member of the National Socialist Movement (NSM) — currently America’s largest neo-Nazi organization — ever thought he could distance himself from his long history of racist diatribes. His earlier claims include reported statements that blacks “are not human” and that “each one of them should be liquidated, that is, killed immediately or after performing forced labor without shelter or food.” The professor, a devoted equestrian, also called Jews “the most insidious sub-human enemy of Western Civilization itself. … Liquidate them where you find them. If they hide, search them out and execute them.”
Officials at Fairleigh Dickinson said Pluss was dismissed because of numerous absences from his duties — absences Pluss denied. Instead, he claimed his ouster came after the university learned of his involvement with the NSM. On “White Viewpoint,” an online radio show, he responded to his firing by calling the school a “Jewish plutocratic university.”
Following his dismissal, Pluss wrote a series of essays to set the record straight about his “associations” with the NSM, the largest neo-Nazi movement in the United States. In his 2006 screed “Now It Can Be Told: Why I Pretended to Be a Neo-Nazi,” Pluss claimed that he had joined the NSM — and became a known spokesman in the movement — only to research a book on “the wacky White Power movement.” He was drawn into the movement, he stated, as a historian guided by French deconstructionists who stressed “the need for the historian to ‘become’ her or his subject in order to develop a relationship with it.” He even claimed to have sent the letter to the student newspaper revealing his connections to the NSM as a psychotic twist to end the experiment.
In the end, it was impossible to know whether Pluss was the type of racist who waffled on his convictions, if he was a split personality, or maybe both. Pluss’ own public statements only made the nature of his racism murkier. Six months after making his mea culpa, he told George Mason University’s History News Network that his confession was a lie, and that he really was a devotee of neo-Nazism and an active member of the NSM. At the time, he also claimed to run the American branch of “Stille Hilfe” (Silent Help), a group that set up after World War II to clandestinely help Nazis escape prosecution for war crimes. There is no evidence that Silent Help really exists or is active in the United States today.
Incidentally, Pluss’ arrest comes amid worries the NSM is planning a secret rally in New Jersey, according to One People’s Project, a left wing, anti-racist group based in Philadelphia. Daryle Lamont Jenkins, a spokesman for the group, cautioned venue owners to be particularly attentive before the April 15 meeting. “It is likely that they are using a different name to dupe a venue into hosting,” Jenkins said.