HANOVER, N.H. -- Every week, for the turbulent decade since it first appeared in this serene New England college town, the aggressive, intemperate and conservative Dartmouth Review has printed a credo from Theodore Roosevelt just beneath its masthead.
But the usual call to vigor and independence didn't make the paper this week. Instead, a quotation from Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf," asserting that "by warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord's work," was inserted just above the boldly lettered names of the Review's editors.
The action, which Kevin Pritchett, the 21-year-old editor in chief of the right-wing weekly, described as "sabotage," would undoubtedly have caused outrage any time it appeared. But the Oct. 3 issue of the Dartmouth Review was published Friday afternoon, on the eve of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. Outraged at perhaps the most offensive act in a long history of confrontation, students, faculty and administrators have reacted with horror.
"For 10 years the Dartmouth Review has consistently attacked blacks because they are black, women because they are women and homosexuals because they are homosexual," said Dartmouth President James O. Freedman, a Jew who was once portrayed in the Review as Hitler and accused of engineering a "final solution" for Dartmouth College.
"Now in an act of moral cowardice it extends that reprehensible pattern it relies upon to Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' on the day of Yom Kippur," Freedman continued. "Appalling bigotry of this kind has no place at the college or in this country."
Since its inception, the publication has run a quote by Theodore Roosevelt under the heading "The Review Credo" on its third page: "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win great triumphs, even though checkered by failure," it states in part, "than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much ..."
Controversy, even hatred, are nothing new to the editors of the Dartmouth Review, an independent weekly staffed by Dartmouth students but that has no official connection to the college. Dedicated to rousing the slumbering conservative Ivy League community, the newspaper will do nearly anything to challenge liberal orthodoxy.
The Review has probably been accused of racism, sexism and homophobia more often than any other student publication in the United States. The first thing that Hugo Restall, the executive editor of the paper, said to a visitor in the Review's office last week was, "Did you know that our valedictory speaker last year was a homosexual?"
The Hitler quote was "not the work of the Review," said Editor Pritchett, a black senior from suburban Virginia. "We have always had Jewish staffers, editors, and currently have an editor in chief who is a great admirer of Judaism.
"What happened here was a mistake," he said. "We are almost certain it was one sick individual, and we will expose him as soon as we can." Pritchett and other senior editors of the Review sent a letter of apology to the Dartmouth community.
But it has left many people in this serene town unmoved.
The Review's staff members, many of whom have gone on to serve as speech writers for Ronald Reagan during his administration, and in influential posts at conservative think tanks, have provoked dozens of confrontations with the town's residents. In 1986, 12 students associated with the Review gained wide notoriety for taking sledgehammers to shanties that had been built on the college green to protest investments in South Africa. In 1982, it ran a column in "black English" called "DisSho' Ain't No Jive, Bro," a broad attack on the relative literacy of black students. It referred to courses on women, Hispanic and African American studies as "victims studies programs."
The publication waged a fierce war against the college when it decided to abandon the nickname "Indians" for its athletic teams out of consideration for Native Americans. Even now, any student who enters the Review's offices here is entitled to one free Dartmouth T-shirt with a menacing-looking Indian on the front.
"They are scum," said Carla Freccero, referring to the Review's editors, who have frequently criticized her teaching. "It's as simple as that."
Just last month, after seven years of a brutal, highly personal and public assault on his competence and character, William Shadrack Cole resigned from his job as a tenured professor of music. Cole, who is a black musician, has been in litigation with Review staff members for years. He decided to quit the college this summer, he said, because it was "the only reasonable response left to me after years of hate."
Faculty members were outraged about his departure, administrators officially glum. But the Review rejoiced.
"Say Goodbye to the Clown," an obituary-style editorial suggested in one recent issue. In another short signed essay, Pritchett suggested that Cole "fits perfectly into the three-ring circus that is Dartmouth: Step Right up folks, come see the Amazing Stupendous Black Professor Spewing Racial Epithets and Profanity -- But He's Diverse Though."
"We at the Review give Cole no flowery valedictions, and we do not mourn because of his departure," the piece continued. "All we have to say is Au revoir, Adios, Aloha and Get the Heck Outta Town."
Both the Cole and Hitler incidents have underscored the ability of a small, often sophomoric, off-campus newspaper to hijack the university's political, social and emotional agenda. The publication of the Hitler quote has plunged the campus into a renewed debate over the newspaper's remarkable prominence. But it is a debate that to many on the campus seems as hopeless as it is endless.
Backed by an editorial board that includes such notable conservatives as Patrick Buchanan, George Gilder and R. Emmet Tyrrell, the publication seems to get more support off campus than it does in Hanover. With a circulation of about 15,000, the Review is funded largely by advertisements and donations from alumni. It's handed out free on campus and claims sales of 8,500 $25 annual subscriptions.
"Complaining about the Review is about as futile as wringing one's hands in the Low Countries in 1940 about you-know-what and you-know-who," said Charles Stinson, professor of religion at Dartmouth. "The difference is, however, that the Dutch had their problem removed in five years. Our prospects are less hopeful."
More than 1,000 students have signed a petition condemning publication of the quote, but petitions against the Review have become almost an annual rite.
At first, Pritchett seems an unlikely object for all the anger. He dresses like most of his peers, in khakis and a polo shirt, and the only thing surprising is that he is black. Largely as a result of publicity about the Review, Dartmouth has had to fight hard to recruit capable black faculty members and students in the past few years. The number of black students who apply -- and eventually attend -- has decreased slowly but steadily.
Pritchett proudly suggests that if Dartmouth stood strong for what its founders believed in, then it would have far fewer problems.
Like the image the college so clearly projects, he is thoughtful, conservative, and pridefully hidebound. Two great guardians of the Tory world order, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II, gaze softly from the office wall above his youthful head.
"We have never wanted to hurt Dartmouth," said Pritchett, sitting in his office last week, before publication of the Hitler quote. "We want to save it from this sad decline. If anything we love this place too damn much to sit here and watch it slide into the mud. But we are not a public relations organ. When we see something egregiously wrong we speak up.
"The students on this paper are intellectually rigorous and curious," he adds, almost as an afterthought. "They are the ideal Dartmouth students. All these hard feelings are just mind-boggling."
Hard feelings indeed.
Al Quirk, the dean of admissions and financial aid, says he never speaks to prospective students or their parents about the college without mentioning the Review.
"If you don't mention it they think you have something to hide," said Quirk. "Its the same way with the cold winter weather. But believe me, the weather is easier to deal with."
Students range widely in their views of the Review. Many say the publication has pumped new life into a weary college. Others are clearly embarrassed. Some wish the whole issue would disappear.
"People look at me like I am out of my mind when I tell them I go to Dartmouth," said Marsha Davis, a black sophomore from the Bronx. "But it's really a wonderful place in many ways."
Most people who have been at Dartmouth for any length of time agree with her. But praise for consistent academic excellence and vision rarely make headlines.
"Its such a waste," said Sally Sedgwick, an assistant professor of philosophy and a particular foe of the Review. "We have a president deeply committed to welcoming ideas. We have a wonderful, imaginative student body, we have this magnificent campus and we have the Review."