Published in Issue 3.1
The Review has survived these numerous controversies through the strong support of alumni and national conservatives such as Pat Buchanan, William F. Buckley and Dinesh D’Souza. When Review founder Greg Fossedal accepted a post in the Reagan administration, he received a letter with this praise from the President: “I must say, it’s an impressive paper. You should be proud to have started this important movement; let’s hope that your fine efforts will be imitated elsewhere.”
You will hear many explanations and versions of events from people about what happened at the Review, and many of the excuses offered by past and present Review staffers and defenders only serve to obscure the issues further. Unfortunately, most first-year students are misinformed or uninformed about the role the Review has played on this campus in the past twenty years. Understanding this history will be key in helping to instigate meaningful change.
The Dartmouth Review was founded in 1980 to harken back to a past that its founders saw as threatened by a Dartmouth administration working to change the College. The spark for the paper’s creation came when Greg Fossedal, then editor of The Dartmouth, wrote an editorial in support of John Steele, a tradition-minded candidate for the Dartmouth Board of Trustees. Feeling that the Dartmouth administration was composed of a Stalinist politboro and wanting to start an anti-Establishment conservative paper, Fossedal left The Dartmouth and took several members of the staff with him.
The Dartmouth Review demanded a return of the Indian symbol, an end to year round schooling (now known as the D-Plan), advocated a curriculum based on western civilization, opposed affirmative action, claimed that the “administration has given in to every minority demand,” complained that professors were punishing students with pro-American and pro-Christian beliefs, and proclaimed the need to protect “traditional values.” The Review eventually blossomed as it found funding from wealthy conservative alumni whose agenda it hoped to promote (one early fund raising letter said that the Review is “designed to publish Alumni opinions, which coincide with the opinions of many undergraduates.”)
The Dartmouth Review probably could not have survived without the national publicity it received by claiming Dartmouth was trying to silence its conservative voice. The first big controversy erupted when the College threatened to sue over the use of the name ‘Dartmouth’ in the paper. The Dartmouth administration and faculty were incensed by the Review’s frequent name-calling and inneundo such as calling one visiting pro-choice speaker “allegedly syphilitic.” The College blocked the incorporation of The Dartmouth Review Inc., but when Fossedal said he would change the name of the company to the Hanover Review, Inc., the College immediately phoned the New Hampshire secretary of state to drop its objections. But, as Greg Fossedel told me: “I never promised them the Hanover Review, Inc. wouldn’t publish [a paper ] called the Dartmouth Review!” And the relationship between the Review and the College only went downhill from there.
Homophobia and the Review
In 1981, The Dartmouth Review printed the names of the officers of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) along with material that had been taken from the GSA’s confidential files. The grandfather of one of these closeted students found out his grandson was gay when he read his copy of the Review. Another of these outed students contemplated suicide. When I asked him about this, founding editor Greg Fossedal says: “I felt terrible about it.” When students held a protest over the printing of the names, however, Review staffers played croquet on the other side of the Green.
Editor Dinesh D’Souza said they had not known the GSA had an exemption from making its officers’ name public. The Review was attacking the secrecy of the funding of the GSA, which was supposed to be funding “intellectual activities,” D’Souza told me, while its members were writing about how great it was to get money for “gay parties, gay orgies or whatever.”
In 1984, the Review printed a splashy tabloid cover screaming “Exclusive Report on the G.S.A.” Printed inside was a portion of a transcript of a Gay Straight Alliance meeting, secretly taped by Review staffer Teresa Polenz, with an accompanying picture of a man peering over a bathroom stall. The state of New Hampshire opened an investigation into whether the Review reporter has violated wire tapping laws. A former attorney general of the United States came to defend the Review, but the state dropped the investigation after a New Hampshire Supreme Court handed down a ruling in an unrelated taping case. As a result, Dartmouth decided not to bring disciplinary charges against any students, but Dean Shanahan sent a letter encouraging members of the Dartmouth community calling on them to “censure” the Review for its “insensitivity.”
Whatever the ethics of its actions, the Review has often been able to claim victory through not losing lawquits. However, in 1985, Associate Chaplain Richard Hyde filed a libel and invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against the Review, claiming that the publication’s articles over the past two years incorrectly said that Hyde defended the views of the North American Man Boy Love Association. One April 1984 article is a terrific example of the Review’s reporting: “Unequivocally the most out-landish comments on the topics discussed came from none other than the young Mr. Hyde... Still operating under the guise of associate chaplain of Dartmouth, he plainly states that his goal here is ‘to decriminalize homosexuality and premarital sex’... Some members of the faculty and administration say Hyde was married sometime last year in a civil ceremony. Others aren’t quite sure. Hyde, himself, says he still looks forward to the day when he can enjoy the happiness which marriage can offer. Figure it out for yourselves.” The Review eventually settled the case and ran an apology, but neither side would say if Hyde had received any money.
In the mid-1980s, the Review constantly referred to gays as “sodomites” and joked about how great it would be if we established an identification system so they would not be able to spread their diseases. If the Review’s cause was political, its language was virulently hateful. Review covers, from as recently as the mid-1990s, featured tiny fruits like an apple, a pear, a banana, each with faces, holding various signs as “HOMO POWER.”
While insisting the Review was not racist or anti-Semitic, former editor Dinesh D’Souza told me that “this antigay thing is a little bit tricky.” While there were times when the Review said things about gays he wish it hadn’t, D’Souza says, “[i]t’s not clear the Review’s target was homosexuals per se.” Of course not.
Talkin’ Jive? Racism and the Review
According to Nutshell magazine, one Review editor wrote an article calling for the return of the Indian symbol and called modern day Indians “drunken, ignorant, and culturally lost.” The Review printed an interview with a former Ku Klux Klan leader, illustrated with a dummy of black person in a noose tied to a tree. The paper also claimed in an open letter on parents’ weekend that affirmative action at Dartmouth “explains your son’s stupid friends.”
The Review’s attacks on affirmative action and on those they felt did not belong at Dartmouth were often extremely crude. On March 15, 1982, the Review ran a piece called ‘Dis Sho’ Ain’t No Jive, Bro.’ bylined by former Review Chairman Keeney Jones. It was the third of a series of pieces, the first in which Keeney said he wished he could have a medical operation to change his skin color so he could more easily get into graduate school. In the second piece Keeney said he was taking speech lessons to learn black manners of speech. The third piece contained the following “satire,” in which Keeney seems to have perfected what he thinks is black dialect:
“Dese boys be sayin’ dat we be comin’ to Dartmut’ and not takin’ the classics. You know, Homa, Shakesphere; but I hes’ dey all be co’d in da gound, six feet unda, and whatcha be askin’ us to learn from dem? We culturally ‘lightened, too. We be takin’ hard courses in many subjects, like Afro-Am Studies, Women’s Studies and Policy Studies. And who be mouthin’ ‘bout us not bein’ good road? I be practicly knowin’ ‘Roots’ cova to cova, ‘til my mine be boogying to da words! And I be watchin’ the Jeffersons on TV ‘til I be blue in da face.”
After receiving a copy of the ‘Jive’ article, Congressman Jack Kemp resigned from the Review’s advisory board saying Keeney’s article was not in good taste. “Instead, it relied on racial stereotypes. I am sure that many of your readers were offended by it. I am even more concerned that others found in it some support for racist viewpoints,” Kemp said. “I do not want my name to appear in your paper. I am concerned that the association of my name with The Dartmouth Review is interpreted as an endorsement and I emphatically do not endorse the kind of antics displayed in your article.”
The Review took Kemp’s resignation in stride, saying they were looking to add Jerry Falwell to their board. Editor Dinesh D’Souza sought to shift responsibility away from the paper, then telling the Manchester Union Leader: “It is not The Dartmouth Review but the Afro-American Society which is the primary cause of racial tension on campus.”
Soon after the “Jive” article was published, an associate director at Dartmouth’s alumni fund, Sam Smith attacked and bit a Review founder, Ben Hart, as he was distributing issues of the Review at Blunt Alumni Center. Smith was suspended by the College and received a minor fine. The undergraduate council and the faculty voted to condemn the Review for creating a racially divisive atmosphere. Dartmouth’s President McLaughlin wrote a letter in which he said that the Review performed “offensive practices” but that the issue could not be solved by “violence or intolerance.”
Mein Kampf and The Review
In 1982, after druken vandals destroyed a a sukkah, a temporary construction erected on the Green to celebrate a Jewish holiday, the College Rabbi blamed the Review for serving as inspiration. The Review had pictured the sukkah in an article titled “Grin and Beirut” and compared it to an Israeli settlement “on the West Bank of College Hall.” Even the Manchester Union Leader, an ultraconservative paper usually very supportive of the Review, ran an editorial scolding the paper. One of the article’s coauthors, both of whom were Jewish, said he had regrets about writing it. The Review reluctantly ran an apology, insisting it is “committed to fighting not only vandalism but also the psychological bigotry that can precipitate it.” For a rare moment, the Review seemed especially sensative to the consequences of its actions and words, something not in evidence in later acts, such as its staffers actually destroying the anti-apartheid shanties in 1986 and the paper’s many offensive printed comments.
In 1988, 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 July 1990, the Review said that the deaths of 1400 Muslim pilgrims and 7000 Australian penguins were “equally tragic.” Three months later, the Review offered “a heartfelt apology... to all the penguins of the world.”
In 1990, 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 Friedman’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.”
Slipping Into Obscurity
After such scathing attention from the Hitler quote, the Review finally lost steam. The Review would still print offensive images, obsessively printing and re-printing images of the Dartmouth Indian “mascot”. But in the 1990s, the Review produced few antics the national press felt worthy of attention.
Yet the Review still continues its silly sexist and racially insensitive campaigns: last year during first-year orientation, the Review passed out Indian stickers and music sheets with the lyrics to “Men of Dartmouth,” the gender-specific version of the Alma Mater that the College changed in the 1980s, when it finally realized that women also attended Dartmouth.
The Review still shows a vehement hatred for campus protesters. In 2001, one student anonymously complained that when a bunch of brothers on the rooftop porch of Psi Upsilon fraternity saw her walking by, they added a sexist element to an old “Indian” cheer by shouting, “Wah-hoo-wah, scalp those bitches.”
Months later, the Review published a short piece revealing who she was. When asked why, Review editor Andrew Grossman (who, I should disclose, was once my roommate) would only say at the time, “It’s news.” The event had long passed and revealing her name at that point seemed to serve no purpose, other than leaving the previously anonymous woman vulnerable to harassment.
By then, the Psi U incident had long been eclipsed by the Zeta Psi incident, in which the fraternity printed a newsletter bragging about the brothers’ various (real and imagined) sexual exploits with named Dartmouth women. When an activist had been angry and kicked in a small panel on the door of Zete (an action she apologized for), the Review ran a piece on her entitled “scalp her,” echoing the Psi U shout from the rooftops.
Review defenders will claim the publication is not racist; however, they certainly treat claims to accommodate difference in a grossly offensive manner, suggesting outright hostility to reasonable arguments from minority groups and others they clearly do not like.
Last month, an entry of the Review’s webblog, authored by last year’s editor-in-chief Andrew Grossman ’02, echoed a long tradition of mindless racist rhetoric at the Review. Without making a single argument, he dismissed as ridiculous recent efforts by the Student Assembly to bring to Hanover hairstylists who can cut African American students’ hair:
Grossman wrote: “Future programs in a similar vein include bringing to campus a small troupe of number-runners and, in the fall, several New York based crack dealers. The Student Assembly is now in the process of creating a committee of New Black Panthers to replace the ‘Committee on Student Life.’ Expect an authentic ‘Ghetto Party’ no later then by the end of the fall term.”
Don’t expect the Review to always be this edgy; more often than not it simply repeats its same old diatribes and arguments, which sometimes express themselves in virulent ways. The Review may have been a powerful force on this campus during the reactionary Reagan years, but today their uninformed and dull rhetoric is both unappealing to most Dartmouth students and largely irrelevant. Know what the Review stands for, and realize that their time has passed.w