The Corner

Education

Having No Grounds for Complaint, Leftists Smear Speaker as Racist Anyway

Leftist virtue-signaling requires that practitioners not only refuse to listen to anyone who is perceived as an enemy, but also to make up nasty accusations if they can’t find any other mud to throw. A recent trip by Professor Paul Gottfried to Hamilton College to talk about two of his areas of expertise (American conservatism and European fascism) provided some good examples of the academic Left at work. He writes about his experience in a new Martin Center article.

Gottfried isn’t famous or provocative. He’s a retired professor who has written a lot of scholarly books and articles. Neither he nor the Hamilton faculty members who invited him expected any trouble — but they underestimated the capacity for “progressives” to get nasty. A gauntlet of students accosted him before he had said a single word, tossing around epithets and accusations. Nevertheless, both of Gottfried’s talks proceeded without incident, as did his presentation at the Alexander Hamilton Institute. But after he left the campus, trouble began.

Gottfried writes,

Within a few days of my departure, I learned that my visit to Hamilton had stirred up quite a disruption. The Government Department saw fit to send around a statement to the Hamilton community. It said that the faculty members were concerned over “multiple complaints from students about racist remarks allegedly made by Gottfried” in his talks. Nothing I had said could be regarded as “racist” except in that “racist” has become a universal smear for any disagreement with leftist thinking. The statement went on to “unequivocally condemn any and all such racist remarks, written or spoken.”

So a few social-justice-warrior–type students make up allegations of racism and their ideological buddies on the faculty feel compelled to make a big fuss. In a sensible world, that would have been the end of the matter, but we don’t live in a sensible world. Hamilton’s president, David Wippman, felt that he had to say something about the Gottfried Horror, so he penned a letter to the community. Gottfried continues:

Wippman wrote to “address issues of serious concern” over my appearance on campus. “First,” he wrote, “we are a community that values all its members. We want and need to foster a diverse, welcoming, and inclusive environment. . . . Racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, and all other forms of bigotry are anathema to our core values. Claims of racial hierarchy based on spurious notions of genetics are scientifically bankrupt, morally repugnant. I understand, intellectually, morally, and viscerally, the anger and pain members of our community experience when faced with such claims, particularly in the current political climate and historical context.”

Never mind that Gottfried had not in fact said anything that a reasonable person would construe as racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, or bigotry. Wippman couldn’t be bothered to find out if the charges had any validity. Academic leftists can’t be bothered with truth when the feelings of students are involved.

Wippman didn’t even succeed in placating all of the students. Some accused him of being “too tolerant.”

One more bit of damage — the instructor in the first class where Gottfried spoke will apparently lose his position on the faculty. Someone must pay for subjecting Hamilton to the terrors of Paul Gottfried!

He concludes the article with this observation, “One should expect anger and collateral damage whenever you deviate from PC sentiments on college campuses these days.”

Editor’s Note: The headline of this post has been updated.

George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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