In the wake of an article posted on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s blog, Hatewatch, a Perimeter College math instructor accused of anti-Semitic online postings “is not teaching the two online courses that were assigned to him this semester.”
An official statement by the University System of Georgia (USG) added that “the extreme views attributed to this instructor do not align with the university’s core values. The instructor’s courses have been reassigned to lessen disruption for students.” A USG spokeswoman further pointed out that the teacher, Larry Coty, is “a part-time instructor and that contracts are renewed each semester.”
Coty, who has been teaching at Perimeter College for more than 20 years and previously taught at Decatur High School, was also an academic manager for USATestprep, an Atlanta company that develops curricula for teachers to prepare students for exams.
The Montgomery, Ala.-based Southern Poverty Law Center was founded in 1971 to “ensure that the promise of the civil rights movement became a reality.” Its Hatewatch blog monitors and exposes the activities of the American radical right. According to its article late last month, it launched its investigation into Coty after a tip from a former student. The SPLC found that Coty had posted “neo-Nazi propaganda on the Russian social media site VK, on Facebook and in comment sections of reactionary far-right websites.”
Contacted by the AJT about Coty, the Anti-Defamation League’s Southern Division reported that “we’re in communication with the school,” referring to Perimeter College. “They are investigating the matter,” said Max Flugrath, director of communications strategy at the ADL in Atlanta. Although he didn’t comment further, other than to say that the ADL would talk to the school again, others at the ADL reported a long history with Coty.
Coty is “not new to us,” acknowledged Mark Pitcavage, senior research fellow at the ADL’s Center on Extremism. “We identified him as problematic back in 2005.”
It was Coty’s connections to Holocaust denial that brought him to the ADL’s attention when Pitcavage was head of the organization’s investigation research department. Independently, Pitcavage – who has a PhD in military history – bought a book on World War II that Coty was selling online and was subsequently added to Coty’s email list. “I discovered other things he was selling. In 2006, a friend who was also a World War II enthusiast had the same experience with a book. He alerted me about Coty.”
Pitcavage said he only has two old emails from Coty — one from late October 2005, in which Coty refers to well-known Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel as a pacifist and accuses Germany of attacking him. Coty’s email stated that Zundel had been charged with a criminal offense in Germany for doubting the Holocaust and noted that Zundel was attempting to “clear his native country and its people of the false charge of industrial genocide in German concentration camps.” The email requested contributions to help with Zundel’s defense.
Zundel, who died in 2017, was the author of the book “The Hitler We Loved and Why.” His publishing company started distributing Holocaust denial propaganda in the 1980s, including a pamphlet, “Did 6 Million Really Die?”
At some point, Coty “fell off my radar screen for years. The ADL didn’t know I had a personal relationship” with him. “He stopped sending me stuff. I only bought the one book,” said Pitcavage, who owns “thousands of books on World War II.” When the Atlanta office of the ADL contacted him about Coty in response to the Hatewatch article, Pitcavage said he was surprised. “I hadn’t thought of him in years.” After Coty’s name resurfaced, Pitcavage said he did a search and found an email address with Coty’s initials and “1889.” He said he could only guess that it was a reference to the year Hitler was born.
Pitcavage’s research also disclosed that Coty had organized an event for noted Holocaust denier David Irving in October 1999. “In the early 2000s, he signed an online petition to support Zundel,” Pitcavage said, adding that Coty’s website was linked to several Holocaust denial websites.
In the past, Pitcavage said, the ADL had dealt with academics who espoused far-right or anti-Semitic opinions, “but they were tenured professors so we couldn’t do anything without evidence.” In Coty’s case, there is no indication that the math teacher shared his extremist positions inside the classroom.
Still, according to the Hatewatch article, Coty’s online activity “appears to violate the faculty handbook of the University System of Georgia,” which includes Perimeter College. The article said faculty are expected to avoid publishing controversial content without a clear disclaimer that “the views expressed by the author are the author’s alone.” Hatewatch said that Coty’s Facebook posting, in which “his former student found him liking debunked racist propaganda and extremist content, does not include such a disclaimer.”
The article alleged that Coty posted extremist content to his social media accounts from 2013 to the fall of 2021. When Hatewatch first contacted him, Coty denied the postings, deleted them, then admitted to posting them and reactivated the postings two days later.
A spokeswoman for USATestprep confirmed that Coty no longer works for her company. “He resigned after he was contacted by SPLC and we accepted his resignation. His personal views as expressed on social media go against our company’s values. We do not support content or ideologies that align with hate, discrimination or anti-Semitism.”
Attempts by the AJT to reach Coty for comment were unsuccessful.
- Jan Jaben-Eilon
- Anti-Defamation League Southeast
- Perimeter College
- Larry Coty
- Holocaust Denial
- Southern Poverty LAw Center
- University System of Georgia (USG)
- Decatur High School
- World War II
- Ernst Zundel
- Hatewatch groups
- social media
- Civil Rights Movement
- neo-Nazi propaganda
- Max Flugrath
- Mark Pitcavage
- racist propaganda
- German concentration camps
- David Irving