Paul Gottfried, the Jewish mentor of White Identitarian Richard Spencer, reminiscences about Elizabethtown College, where he is a retired professor. His former campus is where the anti-white puzzle pin campaign is happening. Read more about the puzzle pins at this Saboteur365 post.
The British paper correctly underlined the hypocrisy of whites pretending to be advocating for oppressed blacks while choosing to reside in a lily-white environment. This is the dirty little secret at Elizabethtown that I indiscreetly revealed in newspaper articles while I held an endowed chair at the college.
For decades, some of our departments, such as social work, education, and communications, have been full of young radicals who opt for a college that is at a safe distance from the minorities whom they claim to be championing. More than one such student has complained to me: “We don’t recruit enough students from inner cities to give us diversity.” To that, I usually responded: “If you want diversity, then why don’t you go to a college in a black neighborhood, say Temple in Philadelphia?” This invariably caused the complainer to walk away.
The adolescents sporting the puzzle pins exemplify the prevailing spirit at the institution, but such grandstanding hasn’t always been the custom at the college. When I arrived there in the 1980s, Elizabethtown College seemed to be on the right path, educationally, fiscally, and in most other ways.
The president who hired me, Gerhard Spiegler, was a German scholar who hoped to make the institution into a first-rate center of learning. Spiegler hoped to elevate academic standards for students and faculty alike, and he practiced Teutonic thrift by keeping the size and salaries of the administration exceedingly low. He was hated by most of the old guard on campus, particularly by the faculty with terminal master’s degrees in education who taught their courses, as he would say, on “automatic pilot.”
Spiegler also hired assistants who were able to increase the school’s meager endowment and to raise funds for new buildings. Among the buildings that he arranged to erect were a state-of-the-art library and an Anabaptist Center, created for the study of the German Pietist sect that had established Elizabethtown College in 1899. He worked energetically to retain the loyalty of traditional Brethren alumni and donors and continued to look upon their coreligionists as a recruiting base.
Unlike much of the faculty, Spiegler leaned politically toward the Right and had no patience for academic agitators, especially for troublemakers who combined radical political views with a lack of professional accomplishments. Unfortunately, the troublemakers outlasted Spiegler, who laid down his duties in 1996.
During the next two administrations, the troublemakers got the “hope of change” they thought they wanted. It came in the form of lavishly salaried administrators (certainly by comparison to those who preceded them), rapidly escalating tuition, and a shifting emphasis at the college from a strict Pietist environment to the PC fad du jour, lately “white privilege.”
I’ve never seen an institution change so fundamentally within just a few years. The changes came on a number of fronts.
The cultural transformation moved from such Anabaptist-sounding activities as peace studies, to diversity deans and diversity studies through consciousness-raising events for blacks, women, and gays, “safe spaces” for LGBT, and special living arrangements for the transgendered. Black History and Women’s Months went on interminably and brought to the college a steady stream of outraged victim speakers.
Such commotions served a practical as well as ideological function. They gave special prominence to non-ideational disciplines (that is, majors that are more open to expressing grievances than teaching written bodies of knowledge), and the social justice exhibitionists are usually drawn from the students and faculty in these areas. Not insignificantly, those departments are now the cash cows at the college: they don’t require much in the way of equipment and have delivered loads of tuition-bearing students.
Needless to say, there’s no way the college could return to its historic Anabaptist roots. When I retired six years ago, less than one percent of the students belonged to one of the German “peace churches” once heavily represented at the college. The largest religious denomination among the student body is now Catholic, and our students, faculty, and administrators all lean strongly toward the left wing of the Democratic Party.