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3/23/2006 11:48:00 PM | Timothy

Freedman, The Dartmouth Review, and the question of who inserted the Hitler quote

Dartlog links to Reviewers upset about a New York Times obituary of James Freedman. I'm not here to defend the flawed NYT obit. It neglects to mention the event I think really affected the Review's reputation. This event was the denunciation of the Review following the publication of a quote from Hitler's Mein Kampf in the place in the masthead where the credo of the Review usually appeared. Whether the Review should have been so hurt is a separate question from the factual question of whether this attack was effective in a way previous attacks had not been. Freedman said in 1990: “The Dartmouth Review has consistently attacked blacks because they are black, women because they are women, homosexuals because they are homosexuals, and Jews because they are Jews.” Yet the New York Times obit seems to think that Freedman's famous denunciation occurred earlier: "In one widely publicized episode, in 1988, he condemned The Dartmouth Review, a conservative student newspaper, for ridiculing blacks, gay men and lesbians, women and Jews. In a column and a front-page cartoon, the paper had portrayed Mr. Freedman, who was Jewish, with a Hitler mustache and wearing a Nazi uniform and had likened the effects of his campus policies to the Holocaust." Notice how the NYT seems to paraphrase what Freedman says in 1990, but attach it to the 1988 event. Maybe he said it twice, but at the very least the article implies that the 1988 was more important than the 1990 Mein Kampf incident. This is odd, because it was Freedman's speech condemning the Review after the Mein Kampf quote that prompted The New York Times to publish an article reporting on the Review and its history. This article is itself hardly a model of journalistic fastidiousness. It gets some things wrong and is unfair. Which is silly, because there is plenty to attack in the history of the Dartmouth Review. Also, errors and misreporting about the Mein Kampf incident have allowed the Review to say that the Review has been unfairly slurred. What really happened in the Mein Kampf incident is what interests me.

I have asked many Reviewers who inserted the Hitler quote, and they assert with certainty that the quote was inserted through the sabatoge of a rogue staffer. Let us suppose that we should fault Freedman for not considering the possibility of sabatoge. How do Reviewers know that the possibility of sabatoge is anything more than a mere possibility? Why isn't this a hypothesis? Reviewers do not say: 'it might have been sabatoge, so it is unfair to say definitely it was inserted.' They do not even say: 'sabatoge was a liklihood.' Reviewers say: 'we know it was sabatoge. The Review has been slurred.'

I have never been quite sure how Reviewers know the staffer was a 'rogue' one. In his In Search of Anti-Semitism, William F. Buckley wrote that people familiar with the case know who the sabateur was. I have queried many Reviewers on who it was, including Jeffrey Hart, Dinesh D'Souza, and more recent Review editors and staffers. No one is able to give me a name. Buckley does not mention the name, nor have I been able to find any Reviewer naming the person specifically in print. Hart himself wrote on NRO, in an article just reprinted: "In fact, it was soon established who had inserted the words on the masthead. It was indeed sabotage." And who is it? Hart leaves it there. We are never told. Which is odd, isn't it?

So Reviewers, if you know the name, please tell me. Otherwise, I'd ask you how you can claim to be so knowledgeable about that event? How can you can claim with such certainty that it was sabateur, if you do not know the name of the person. Even absent the name, how can you be certain that it was established that it was sabatoge, if you cannot say how it was in fact established? [Update: Andrew Grossman, who does not care a whit about this topic, wants me to add that a Reviewer could alternatively tell me why the person has not been named.]

Back when I was at Dartmouth, I researched the history of the Dartmouth Review through the special collections at Rauner library. From this research, I later wrote an article for the Dartmouth Free Press about the history of the Dartmouth Review. Here's what I wrote about the Hitler quote incident:
In ’88, the newspaper published a front cover which depicted President James Freedman, who is Jewish, as Hitler, and also ran an article saying Freedman was looking for the “final solution” to the conservative problem at Dartmouth. The Review later apologized not to Freedman personally but to those who might have been offended. The Review continued attacking professors, warning that one had classes full of “sodomites and liberal scum who probably carry something communicable.”

In ’90, the shit really hit the fan when, printed in the credo on the Review’s masthead, was a quote from Hitler’s Mein Kampf: “I therefore believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator: By warding off the Jews, I am fighting for the Lord’s work.” The Hitler quote in the Review’s masthead caused Dartmouth President James Freedman to strongly condemn the paper: “The Dartmouth Review has consistently attacked blacks because they are black, women because they are women, homosexuals because they are homosexuals, and Jews because they are Jews.”

The editor-in-chief, Kevin Pritchett, had all the issues collected and he and three other senior staffers sent out an open letter disassociating the paper from the quote, saying they were investigating whether the quote had been inserted by an insider on staff. Supporters of the Review in D.C. and New York repeatedly insisted that someone from outside the paper had inserted the Hitler quote and called for an investigation by the Anti-Defamation League to find the ‘sabateur.’

Review advisor Jeffrey Hart atttacked Freedman’s language: “That statement has no truth in it whatsoever. The Review indeed has opposed racial quotas. But not attacked skin color. It has a black editor-in-chief. It has had three women editors, and two from India. It has not attacked homosexuals as such, but opposed Dartmouth’s funding of gay groups.” President Freedman said the quote was “consistent with the level of hatred that has filled the Review. It’s hard to believe it was an accident.”

Unlike previous Review controversies, the center did not hold. “I cannot allow the Review to ruin my life any further,” C. Tyler White declared soon after he resigned as President of the Review, “The official Review response, which I co-signed and helped distribute, avoids the main thrust of the issue. It does not emphasize our sorrow in this dreadful act of malice, nor does it claim responsibility for letting it reach newsprint…. The editor-in-chief has failed in his job, and now we must wear the albatross of anti-Semitism because he won’t take responsibility for the issue’s contents.” Review contributors David Budd and Pang-Chun Chen also resigned saying, “We are conservatives, but we are not Nazis...” Budd noted that the paper’s apology implied “let’s put the blame on someone else.”

While alumni on the Review’s board had said there was evidence that an outsider was at fault, the Anti-Defamation League’s investigation found that the Hitler quote matched one from a frequently used quote book in the Review’s office and concluded that someone on the Review staff had definitely inserted the quote. The Review is staunchly pro-Israel, but the ADL commission concluded that the insertion of the quotation was “obviously an anti-Semitic act.” The head of the ADL commission said: “Prior acts of the Review and the past conduct of its members have contributed, the commission believes, to the creation of an environment which condoned and even encouraged a member of the Review to include the offensive Hitler quote.”

Defenders of the Review still insist a senior editor would not have inserted the Hitler quote, but the Review has a history of printing inflammatory quotes such as “the only good Indian is a dead Indian” and “genocide means never having to say you’re sorry.”
There's more to say than I say here. The ADL investigation narrowed down the suspects, but did not name one. I have not heard a good explanation of how the Review knows the prepetrator was not a senior editor.

Reviewer Alston Ramsey follows the NYT's lead and does not talk about the Hitler quote in this post on NRO:
The great irony of Freedman’s repeated (and almost always baseless) attacks on The Dartmouth Review, whose august pages I edited from 2003 to 2004, was that they helped generate the national stature that has sustained the Review over the years, making it perhaps the best known — and most infamous — college journal out there.
Ramsey is right that the Dartmouth Administration's attacks on the Review helped give it national spotlight, but Freedman's attack during Mein Kampf did not really help the Review, I think. Ramsey's statement applies better to events earlier in the 1980s. (Read ">the entirety of my article in the Free Press.) Freedman only became president in the late 1980s, after the Review's prominence had been established, with much help through publicity about how the Review was being persecuted. Controversies 'helping' the Review occurred on Freedman's watch, such as the (second) Bill Cole incident. But I do not think that the Hitler quote incident was one of these events. (I wonder, what are the attacks by Friedman which Ramsey thinks were not baseless? An interesting concession left unspecified....) I hope Ramsey would agree with this factual historical matter upon reflection. At the very least, I should think any Reviewer would agree that the Review had a lot more fun responding to the earlier attacks. D'Souza did not look as happy defending the Review then.

Obviously, my factual claim here is a broader claim and I'm interested if Reviewers think it is mistaken. One indication is that in the 1990s, there really was not much national news about the Review after the Mein Kampf incident. All the really famous incidents took place in the 1980s. If I'm not mistaken (and this I say from memory), the Dartmouth Beacon started up soon after this incident to provide for a moderate conservative voice at Dartmouth. (It's interesting that the paper that now calls itself the Dartmouth Beacon has been called more strident than the Review. Of course, it was called more strident in the sense of being more neoconservative. Fun trivia question: who has been editor of both the Dartmouth Review and the Beacon?)

I'll write more and update this post, and perhaps edit it, as I look at some of the other posts by Reviewers, especially those that mention the Mein Kampf incident.


Update:
Dartlog links to a Timeswatch post quoting that 1998 Hart article: "As Hart explains, after someone planted a Hitler quote in the Review in 1990, the administration hurriedly organized an anti-hate rally targeting the paper." Who is the "someone"? Hart does not explain. Hart asserts.

See next this article culled from Bill Buckley's writings on the Review website. A Review editor added: "Editor’s Note: The identity of the individual responsible for placing the Hitler quote in The Review was established after the publication of In Search of Anti-Semitism. He was known to the Hanover police in connection with other incidents. In addition to the Anti-Defamation League, the American Civil Liberties Union and Midstream, a Jewish magazine, led those who affirmed the Review’s innocence." First, the "individual responsible" is again not named, nor is this sourced. To reiterate: the ADL did not come to the conclusion that no senior staffer inserted the quote. It left it open who of several people could likely have inserted it. The ADL didn't think The Review was anti-semitic in the way that many of its critics had, but it did not find that senior editors at the Review were "innocent" of inserting the quote. That is what the editor's note in that Review article quoted above implies, in a misleading fashion. And the Review often operates like this. I think I know what police reports the editor might be talking about, but I've only able to bring up very sketchy stuff, so I'd appreciate more information from Reviewers. And nothing I've seen showed definitely how it was that guy rather than a senior editor (not necessarily the editor-in-chief: this is why Buckley's contention, that it defies logic that the editor-in-chief would print it, falls short of exculpating the Review).

Dartlog links to this Review article by Timothy Leung and Steve Menashi:"A former staffer of the Review played the role of saboteur by inserting a quotation from Hitler’s Mein Kampf to replace the usual Review credo by Teddy Roosevelt." Note that the "former staffer" is not named. (And is Menashi implying that the staffer was a "former" staffer at the time the quote was inserted? When did the person resign from or otherwise leave the Review?) Let's also keep in mind that some Review alums in 1990 initially blamed outside non-Reviewers, which the ADL investigation showed was not the case. Midstream published an article by Malcolm Sherman in Feb/March 1992 defending the Review, while attacking the ADL for its report. The ADL report may be unfair, but it should not be cited selectively by Reviewers if they mean to claim that it showed them to be innocent. It did not.

On October 4, 1990, the Valley News published an article headlined: "Review' Leaders Suggest Sabotage from the Outside." This came from alums of the Review like Dinesh D'Souza. The editor of the paper at the time seems:
HANOVER - Dinesh D'Souza, one of the trustees, said that an apostrophe contained in the Hitler quote differs from the apostrophes in the rest of the paper. That, he said, points to the possibility that the quote, which appeared in the place of the usual Review credo, was the work of an outsider.
D'Souza did admit the possibility that it was an insider who did it, but it's interesting how he seized on this possibility to promote this story. (Nowadays, everyone agrees it was the work of an insider.) The Review editor at the time, Kevin Pritchett, told the Valley News that he thought it was done by a "sick" member of the staff. In a letter to alums (see Rauner Library special collections), Pritchett wrote "In its October 3rd, 1990, issue, The Dartmouth Review fell victim to criminal sabatoge. Gaining access access to our production process, someone inserted a vicious anti-Semitic slur into our credo or statement of belief." Pritchett does not mention that he thought the "someone" was a staff member. That might not have fit in with his outrage that Friedman was jumping to conclusions. As I said in the Free Press article quoted above, the Review has published ridiculous and offensive quotes before, that it presumably thinks are 'funny'.

There is also a Valley News article from 10-20-90 which says: "Hart also said that Pritchett is '90 percent' sure who inserted the offending passage, but can't yet take action." A Oct 9, 1990 piece by Buckley in the Tampa Tribune says "Pritchett thinks he knows who the malefactor is." Again, who it is is not mentioned. When did the Review's line change from 'we think we know' to 'we know' and what justified this?



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