I taught college for twenty years and can’t imagine walking down the hallway to class past a phalanx of students holding signs accusing me of such things as “racism,” “hate,” and “fascism.” I did not even want to be confronted about their grades on papers and routinely told students to wait until after class to discuss such matters.
I was therefore quite impressed by the way Paul Gottfried, Horace Raffensberger Professor of Humanities Emeritus, Elizabethtown College, handled such students lining the hallway of the Kirner-Johnson building on the Hamilton College campus last October. I accompanied Paul along with Bob Paquette, Executive Director of the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI), where I am a resident fellow. Paul at the invitation of AHI gave guest lectures in AHI resident fellow David Frisk’s “Modern Conservative Politics” course and in Hamilton College Professor Alfred Kelly’s “Nazi Germany” seminar.
Paul is an internationally recognized scholar on inter-war European history. One of his recent books is about fascism, so it’s doubly insulting that one of the signs said, “Students Against Fascism.” Paul is funny, mild-mannered, and incredibly learned. As I wrote in my article for the AHI website, he chatted with one student in German, and had there been students who spoke French, Italian, Polish, or Hungarian, he could have done the same with them. He also could have given them lessons in classical Greek, a subject he used to teach.
Paul was never thrown off his game by the accusatory questions from protesting students who were allowed into the classes. There was not a bit of hostility towards the self-righteous students in the hallway who pinned him, repeating…