On April 20, some may celebrate the 131st birthday of a man who helped define the 20th century. An artist, philosopher and successful author and motivational speaker before his election to national office, he valued expertise. Once in office, the leader chose a cabinet of PhDs, lawyers and military officers. A vegetarian in his later years, his government broke new ground in animal rights and wildlife conservation.
For all his (dubious) achievements, in 2018 the long dead Adolf Hitler gained an honor that eluded him in life: publishing in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal. Such publications earned me tenure at two universities. Given the intellectual climate in parts of academia, nowadays Hitler also might earn tenure. Segments of the Fuehrer’s “Mein Kampf” (My Struggle) — rebranded as “Our Struggle is My Struggle,” with postmodern jargon and citations arguing for solidarity among women, rather than Germans as in the original — earned publication in a feminist journal.
Hitler was a posthumous beneficiary of the “Grievance Studies affair.”
On this anniversary of Hitler’s birthday, both inside and outside academia, across ideologies, people need to ask whether their actions might resemble those of the Führer, whether we celebrate intellectual solidarity or diversity. We can all do better, and professors should lead the way.