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Paul Gottfried

Paul Gottfried

Paul Gottfried is an American political philosopher and intellectual historian, and former Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania.

Articles by Paul Gottfried

Explaining Minnesota’s Radical Political Nature

5 days ago

As recent events have caused the eyes of the nation and the world to focus on Minnesota, a question I’ve wondered about has resurfaced: Why is Minnesota so politically radical?
That Minnesota’s politics are radical is seen in a simple survey of the state’s prominent politicians. Both of Minnesota’s two U.S. Senators, Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, are decidedly left-of-center Democrats. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz can be seen on TV inciting Black Lives Matter (BLM) crowds and rioters in situations that would seem to call for restoring civil peace.
Keith Ellison, the state’s Attorney General, is an enthusiastic backer of Antifa and a convert to a black nationalist form of Islam. Ellison was an outspoken fan of Mark Bray’s The

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A Government of Thugs, by Thugs, for Thugs

April 6, 2021

In The Origins of Totalitarianism, a massive work first published in 1951, Hannah Arendt, a refugee from Nazism, noted striking similarities between Hitler’s and Stalin’s regimes. In both of those state-of-the-art tyrannies, the governing classes forged a mutually profitable alliance with society’s criminal elements. These totalitarian governments, which were concerned with ferreting out and removing opposition, took full advantage of their unsavory connections.
They enlisted inveterate criminals to spread terror, lest anyone question their ruthlessness in settling scores. The designation that the father of the late Hitler biographer Joachim Fest ascribed to the Third Reich as a “Verbrecherstaat” (criminal state) was true in two

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Michelle Obama’s Justified Complaint of Existence

March 27, 2021

Recently The Michelle Obama Podcast revealed shocking information that should concern all white people. “When I’ve been completely incognito during the eight years in the White House, walking the dogs on the canal,” Obama explained, “people will come up and pet my dogs, but will not look me in the eye. They don’t know it’s me.” She further stated: “That is so telling of how white America views people who are not like them, like we don’t exist. And when we do exist, we exist as a threat. And that’s exhausting.”
Even allowing for Michelle’s status as a privileged female victim of color, in the same category as Meghan Markle and Oprah, it may be a good idea to take her words seriously. Her complaint about not existing for most

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Fighting Woke Tyrants

March 19, 2021

Asmall but determined and vicious minority is bullying people,” observes Instapundit Glenn H. Reynolds in the New York Post. “Woke tyrants are riding high” and “62 percent of Americans self-censor their political expression.” Reynolds notes that “corporations, universities, and government rush to placate that minuscule slice of the population trashing large chunks of our culture.” This is a power grab that supposedly could “never happen with a majority vote.”
Minor corrections may be appropriate here. What Reynolds describes as a “minuscule slice of the population” has come to power with majority votes in blue states, and it enjoys exuberant support in large sectors of the government and corporate world. If “woke tyrants are

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America Is Not an ‘Idea’

March 17, 2021

A Somalian feminist and well-known critic of Islamic patriarchy, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, expressed the following critique of Black Lives Matter in an interview with the Hoover Institution last summer:
What we are seeing now is this mishmash of people who call themselves Black Lives Matter have found the hook. They found a way of going about the business of destroying what we stand for, the ideals, you know, the idea of America, by constantly harping on the things we did wrong, which we all admit: the slavery, the segregation…. Our human frailties have been well documented in the past, and if you just grab on any one of the most outrageous, of course—the slave trade—and then you say, ‘Well, here we now have a reason to destroy everything

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The Antifascist Scam

March 8, 2021

Demonstrating that irony is far from dead, eBay has just pulled six of Dr. Seuss’s books for sale, but buyers are still free to bid on Hitler’s Mein Kampf.  It seems that the woke Left has gone after the children’s classics for “racist imagery” but are cool with people reading Hitler. The latest victim of this leftist cancel culture, the late Theodore Geisel, and the author of such charming, illustrated reading for children as Scrambled Eggs Super and The Cat’s Quizzer, was on the Left politically and a passionate antiracist. Dr. Seuss denounced putative fascist-sympathizers even after World War II, readily joined far-Left organizations, and was an early, outspoken champion of the civil rights movement. His posthumous fate

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Who Dominates Whom?

March 1, 2021

Recent broadsides from the French government, and most conspicuously from French President Emmanuel Macron, against the American woke Left and U.S. cancel culture drew a mixed reaction from me. Frankly, I find no reason as a European historian to believe that French journalists and academics are any less infected than our own with political correctness.
Looking at Le Monde, one can imagine reading the New York Times en francais. An attack on Western civilization and French national institutions has been underway in France since the native Left’s outcry against colonialism and the glorification of Third World revolutionaries after World War II. That was also the time when French intellectuals were talking up the Stalinist side in

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Ashamed of What?

January 9, 2021

People ask me if I feel “ashamed” about what Miranda Devine describes as “the clueless insurrection” in the Capitol on Wednesday. My response? I am about as ashamed as Joe Biden, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Juan Williams of Fox News were about the riots and shootings that the Democratic Party subsidized and even justified last summer.
Unlike those violent riots, which the Democrats and national media attributed to white racism, and which came from Democratic voters, the turmoil in the Capitol on Wednesday did not result in burning and looting. There were no white or black policemen shot and the only shooting victim (which the media don’t seem to care about since white Republican lives don’t matter) was a female protestor,

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Sippin’ Starbucks No More

December 10, 2020

The fate of Betsy Fresse, an evangelical Christian who refused to don a gay pride shirt in accordance with instructions from her manager in a Starbucks store in New Jersey is explained with remarkable concision in a recent Reuters article:
A former Starbucks Corp barista in New Jersey sued the coffee chain on Thursday, claiming she was fired illegally because she did not want to wear a ‘PRIDE’ T-shirt, which she said conflicted with her religious beliefs.
Betsy Fresse said her August 2019 dismissal from a Glen Ridge, New Jersey store, near her Newark home, for allegedly violating Starbucks’ ‘core values’ amounted to illegal religious discrimination under federal civil rights law.
This obstinate employee was apparently given an

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The Virtues of Being Graceless

November 25, 2020

Rich Lowry at the Trump-unfriendly National Review titled a syndicated column on November 20  “Ugly Exit.” Lowry, who has made a habit of dumping on The Donald, complains that Trump’s unwillingness to graciously concede to Joe Biden reveals his “deep-seated inability to admit defeat.”  His gracelessness is also somehow harming “elected Republicans who feel the need to play along.” So far, according to Lowry, Trump has been exploiting the “suspicions about the process” that bedevil his party after a heated race. “But it’s wrong for Trump to fuel the doubts with a constant flow of bad information and conspiracy theories.” It seems that Lowry sees no evidence of significant fraud anywhere in this election but is willing to give

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The Worst Purges Come From the Right

September 28, 2020

Recently C. Bradley Thompson responded obliquely to my critical comments in Chronicles about his book and subsequent observations on the American Founding. Contrary to Thompson’s asides on Facebook and Twitter dismissing my criticism, I did read some of his tome, The Revolutionary Mind, and even commented on it—but I found its discussion of our state-builders so tendentious and unscholarly that after a few chapters I gave up. His attribution of recognizably Randian, agnostic, or atheistic views to the Founders was a bit much.
In any case, my critical analyses of Thompson’s writings are supposedly reducible to “smears” and even more ominously, to my identification with what he called the “TradCon reactionary Right.” Those on

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Why Trump Will Defeat the Deep State

September 23, 2020

Adam Townsend suggests that the deep state will be able to block Tump’s reelection, but I believe he’s wrong.
Last week the Cotto-Gottfried podcast interviewed New York financier and widely read blogger Adam Townsend. He strongly believes Biden will win the presidential race.
Townsend overlooks some of Trump’s assets, however, which could thwart his determined opponents. In some polls and in the extensive analysis done by Democracy Institute, Trump does seem to be doing well among likely voters once the oversampling of Democrats is removed. Further, as many as 62 percent of voters, according to a CATO poll,refuse to admit their electoral preferences. It would not be unreasonable to assume that most of these non-respondents are

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Playing Pretend With the Founding Fathers

August 28, 2020

In a remarkably disjointed, bombastic defense of “the liberal order,” C. Bradley Thompson writes in American Mind about the dangers posed by “Pajama-Boy Nietzscheans” and the supposedly surging “neo-reactionary movement on the Right.” According to Thompson, “radical Left and Right have now merged” in a virulent form of anti-Americanism—the essence of which consists of not agreeing with Thompson’s idealized regime.
The true America that Thompson claims to be upholding “was forged when the ideas of Thomas Jefferson passed through the Cumberland Gap and were put into practice by men like Daniel Boone and women like Annie Oakley.” It seems that our pioneers in the early 19th century read Thompson’s mind centuries in advance while

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Conservatives Foolishly Play the Diversity Game

August 21, 2020

Characteristic of Conservatism Inc. for several decades now has been the practice of having politically correct spokespersons expressing its talking points. Fox News is full of black guests who are encouraged to say what the white hosts are terrified of stating lest they be accused of racism or sexism. Candace Owens, a very attractive black conservative woman, was allowed to observe what scared, white, self-styled conservatives would never say, namely that George Floyd had a long criminal record and may have been high on drugs when a policeman pressed down on his neck with a knee.
There is also an assortment of gays and lesbians on Fox News to comment on LGBT affairs and to create a properly diverse environment. When Fox News

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The Canonization of John Lewis

August 5, 2020

The extravagant tributes conferred by the conservative establishment on the onetime civil rights leader and longtime Atlanta Democratic congressman John Lewis are as ineffectual as they are utterly tasteless.
Lewis’s moments of fame came when he accompanied Martin Luther King, Jr., on his March on Washington in 1963, demonstrating for what became the Voting Rights Act. They then fatefully crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965, leading to a clash with police in which Lewis sustained serious injuries to his head. Whether or not one approves of the Voting Rights Act, no one should question that the black protesters were treated brutally and that what happened to Lewis was inexcusable.
Lewis later made a

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Looking for Moral Foundations (in All the Wrong Places)

June 22, 2020

A debate unfolded in March last year in American Greatness between Chronicles contributor Mark Pulliam and the Claremont Institute’s Edward Erler, a devotee of Harry Jaffa. According to Erler, Robert Bork and others who adhered to strict constitutional originalism were essentially moral nihilists because they would not apply natural law standards to our governing document.
From Erler’s Jaffaite perspective, the Constitution’s authors supposedly viewed the Declaration of Independence as America’s true founding text. The Founders supposedly felt the Constitution had to be interpreted through the passage in the Declaration about all men being created equal. That “natural right” principle enabled the Founders, and later Abraham

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Tucker Versus Woke Mickey

June 16, 2020

T-Mobile and ABC, owned by Disney Company, will stop advertising on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show in view of his scandalous comments on the Black Lives Matter movement.
Or so I’ve just learned. On Saturday, the news host referred to the protests as “Black Lives Matter riot.” Carlson also asked why he was “required to be upset” about George Floyd’s death, as he isn’t from Minneapolis. The comment came on June 1 after Nikki Haley, former UN ambassador, called for collective grieving.
Although such a move should not surprise us in an age of rigorously enforced political correctness, there are two aspects of this situation that warrant attention. First, for those of us who may wonder why the TV channel that is supposed to be

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It’s the Public Health, Stupid!

May 15, 2020

Lately, my progressive acquaintances and the mainstream media seem unable to complete a thought without mentioning the importance of “public health.” These days, if Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia decides to take away people’s guns, he’s only doing so to improve the public health. If he then wishes to extend abortion rights to women who decide to kill their infants, that is obviously a “women’s health issue.” Of course, exercising this supposed right means something catastrophic for the baby, whose health, not to mention life, is adversely terminated.
Public health also has a way of coming back as a major media concern whenever it becomes politically useful to the Democratic Party. Thus, in their eyes, as soon as the

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How Buckley’s Anti-Communism Morphed Into Neoconservatism

April 21, 2020

Political magazines have long relied on donors to ensure their continued existence. This is true of Chronicles, but it’s also been true of mainstream organs of conservatism such as the National Review. William F. Buckley, Jr., would often pen letters to donors which asserted that the magazine was “dead broke.” In one such letter from 1966, Buckley noted that it became clear every February that the magazine “failed to pay our way.” This was due not to mismanagement, he said, but rising production costs. “A magazine cannot charge a price drastically in excess of the general price level set by such as ‘Look,’ ‘Life,’ ‘Time,’ ‘Newsweek,’ etc., which absorb the extra costs by levying on their munificent benefactors,” he wrote.
I

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The Politics of the Coronavirus

March 31, 2020

A friend in Germany just wrote about how political correctness has persisted in his country despite the Corona Pandemic. Although Chancellor Angel Merkel spent years responding to critics of her generous welcoming policy toward Muslim migrants by insisting that borders are fluid, she has now sealed those very borders. Apparently German borders are no longer fluid because of the coronavirus, even to fellow-Europeans. But the German administration has kept its once-fluid borders open to migrants from the Third World, although assurances have been given that these prospective “new settlers” will be “tested” to make sure they are not carrying the virus. Not surprisingly, such “testing” will not be available to Frenchmen or Austrians

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Since When Is Joe Biden a ‘Moderate’?

March 16, 2020

In an exultant commentary on Joe Biden’s victory on Super Tuesday, New York Post-syndicated columnist Salena Zito tells us: “The Dems’ silent majority, which doesn’t tweet, is finally crying out for moderation from the party.” Zito also quotes Dave Saunders, “a legendary Democratic strategist in Virginia,” who “finds it ‘ironic’ that southern voters are often criticized by the national party for being too moderate, but they’re the ones who saved the party from a left-wing candidate like Sanders.” Presumably Biden is the personification of “moderation,” as I’m reminded whenever I hear the Fox News All-stars praise him, while attacking the evil Bernie as a commie-loving radical. It’s been Joe’s accomplishment to rescue his party

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Neil McCaffrey and the Conservative Book Club

January 24, 2020

For those of us who remember the American conservative movement in its earlier manifestation, the recently published articles and correspondence of Neil McCaffrey make for stimulating reading.
For those who don’t recall McCaffrey (1925-1994), it might be mentioned that he was the founder of the Conservative Book Club, the owner of the conservative press Arlington House between 1964 and 1988, and a longtime friend and correspondent of Bill Buckley’s. A native New Yorker who worked as an editor at Doubleday, McCaffrey left behind a promising career at a leading commercial press to devote himself to his two lifetime passions, popularizing conservative ideas and fighting for traditional Catholic beliefs.
In his case, as his published

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What’s Paleo, and What’s Not

December 20, 2019

In a recent Townhall commentary, the young author Michael Malarkey marvels over “the resurgence of refined paleoconservatism.” Supposedly Donald Trump has absorbed quintessential paleoconservative positions and is now putting them into practice. This now triumphant creed is “a political stance that posits the importance of strong borders, economic protectionism, and vehement anti-interventionism.” According to Malarkey, “[Trump’s] political orientation resembles that of Patrick J. Buchanan, a wildly influential former Nixon aide…and lifelong ‘Paleocon.’”
As the person who invented or co-invented the term under consideration, it seems to me that Malarkey doesn’t know much about the “stance” or movement that he claims is now

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Is Buchanan Right about Democracy?

October 28, 2019

Although I generally agree with Pat Buchanan in his observations about the world, lately I’ve been a bit confused about his comments on “democracy.” Whether Buchanan is telling us, as in April, that democracy is in a “death spiral” or more recently, that it’s “a dying species,” I’m not sure that he’s providing a consistent concept of his key term. In April, Buchanan lamented that “in Washington our two-party system in in gridlock. Comity and collegiality are vanishing.” Meanwhile “across Europe splinter parties arise and ‘illiberal democracies’ take power.”  Buchanan is right that moral and social consensus is breaking down in Western countries; and to whatever extent it is still present, it is being increasingly imposed from

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Why Kirsten Gillibrand Was the Worst 2020 Candidate

September 6, 2019

Susan Matthews, who writes for Slate, is agonizing over why Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who just dropped out of the Democratic presidential race after consistently polling at around 1 percent support, didn’t do better.
According to Matthews, Gillibrand’s “lackluster performance” didn’t at all match up with what looked like her winning hand “centered on issues like paid family leave, reproductive rights, and fighting sexual harassment and assault.” Matthews speculates that Gillibrand went too far in her “overtly feminine self-presentation” and therefore “never caught on even among women.” She may have also identified herself too conspicuously with #MeToo issues, which have turned into “a moral, legal, procedural morass we are

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An Astounding Comeback

August 30, 2019

A recently posted commentary of mine on the deceased far Left historian Howard Zinn (1923-2010) refers to a critical study by Hamilton Institute research scholar Mary Grabar. In her exhaustively documented monograph Debunking Howard Zinn, Dr. Grabar demonstrates the gross misrepresentations of the American past, starting with Columbus’s voyages down to the Vietnam War, which abound in Zinn’s People’s History of the United States (1980). Especially in the introductory chapter, Grabar’s work dwells on the enormous celebrity that has accrued to Zinn and his work. It has been featured in movies like Good Will Hunting, been fervently endorsed by Democratic politicians, and has sold over two million copies since the book went on the

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Cutting Some Slack for Howard Zinn

August 27, 2019

In an interview with historian Wilfred McClay in the Wall Street Journal, Naomi Schaefer Riley praises McClay’s recently published American history textbook “for reclaiming American history from Howard Zinn.” Zinn is the Brooklyn-born Jewish social radical (and lifelong communist fellow-traveler) who died at the age of 87 in 2010, while swimming in a pool in Santa Monica, California. He published his radically leftist People’s History of the United States in 1980, which has sold over two million copies. The book has been adopted as an educational tool for American public schools and serialized on public TV here and in Europe.
Zinn’s strength as a moral activist against capitalism, racism, and war may have led to his demonstrable

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The Two Hansons

August 3, 2019

It has long been apparent to me that there are two Victor Davis Hanson, a very perceptive observer of current events and a historian with large axes to grind. When Hanson forgets about his second persona, he is capable of brilliant political commentary. For example, in American Greatness, he goes after the “woke identity movement” for all the right reasons. He pillories this group “whose obsessions with racial privilege and tribal exceptionalism are justified by accusing others of just such bias.” The “woke” ones, it is properly noted, combine bigotry with blatant hypocrisy. As a political commentator Hanson is always worth reading, especially when he’s discussing the immigration invasion and declining civility in California. His

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Hazony Baloney

July 19, 2019

Given my credentials as a widely published and widely translated scholar on European and American political movements, some of my readers thought that I would be invited to this month’s conference in Washington on conservative nationalism. That I was not asked to speak came as no surprise. The conference’s organizer and star attraction, an Israeli advocate of nationalism, Yoram Hazoni, is like his predecessor Yuval Levin, a neocon client; and from what I’ve seen of the program, most of the participants are the usual suspects. West Coast Straussians, lackeys of conservatism, inc. and professional Zionists like Daniel Pipes are all well represented at Hazony’s conference. Although other scheduled speakers are less easily

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Human Rights and Foreign Policy

July 15, 2019

To all appearances, the neocon church militant has occupied the Trump administration in the form of a new human rights panel under Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo. As head of the “Commission on Unalienable Human Rights,” Pompeo promises to “ground our discussion of human rights in America’s founding principles.” One might think that this panel would win the applause of the establishment Left, which is always eager to impose its feminist and LGBT agenda on some hapless Third World society or on insufficiently progressive European countries.  But neither the Washington Post nor the Los Angeles Times is giving Pompeo and his panel the time of day. The first reason is that Pompeo is associated with “an administration that has

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