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Congressmen want Peters to renounce Kuropas remarks

DeKALB - Northern Illinois Uni-versity President John Peters on Friday declined to acquiesce to a suggestion from two congressmen that the university formally renounce the allegedly anti-Semitic remarks made by part-time instructor Myron Kuropas. Democratic Congressmen Rahm Emanuel of Illinois and Henry Waxman of California sent a letter to Peters Thursday calling on the university to renounce some of Kuropas' past comments. In particular they pointed to a 2000 written remark by Kuropas that "Big money drives the Holocaust industry. To survive, the Holocaust industry is always searching for its next mark. Ukraine's turn is just around the corner." Those comments and others that blamed Jews, in part, for the rise of Bolshevism in the Soviet Union have put the former school teacher and part-time NIU instructor at the heart of a controversy over his inclusion in an official U.S. delegation to the swearing in of Ukraine president Viktor Yushchenko on Sunday. The congressmen's letter also requested that Peters "re-evaluate the university's association with Professor Kuropas." Emanuel spokeswoman Cecelia Prewett would not say that the congressmen's call to "re-evaluate" Kuropas' position was a suggestion that the university should fire him. In fact, she said she could not more specifically clarify what was meant by "re-evaluate": "We didn't go to that level," she said. On Friday, NIU released a letter from Peters to the congressmen that said the university "does not condone anti-Semitism or discrimination in any form" but pointed out that Kuropas was not hired to teach "any courses related to Ukrainian history or that would require him to express any viewpoint related to Ukrainian history." NIU spokeswoman Melanie Magara said the purpose of the letter was "to underscore the relationship the university has with this professor. ... It would be inappropriate for us to comment in specific terms on what this man has written or what he has said in the past." The university could do a thorough review of statements and writings by Kuropas in the past, she said, but there is not enough of a connection between Kuropas' private affairs and his teaching at NIU to warrant that. She also said that the university reviews all part-time faculty on a semester or yearly basis and that it's not likely the allegedly controversial statements made by Kuropas will be weighed as part of his reviews. NIU officials on Thursday noted that Kuropas has been a valued instructor and has never been formally accused by any student of making racially or ethnically inappropriate comments. He teaches education courses for the university. According to news reports, Kuropas was chosen to participate in the delegation by White House officials, who have since tried to distance themselves from him and say they were unaware of his past controversial statements about Jews. In a voice mail message left with the Chronicle, Kuropas said he did not want to comment on the matter. Chris Rickert can be reached at crickert@pulitzer.net

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