The man called the “Jewish godfather of the ‘alt-right’” has a new book out this year — and white nationalist websites are applauding the work.
Author and academic Paul Gottfried, mentor to Richard Spencer and self-described “paleoconservative,” released his thirteenth book this spring, a collection of essays titled “Revisions and Dissents.”
In the book’s introduction, Gottfried writes blasts historians who he says have become lazy in their historical analysis. He casts himself as a contrary rebel, one who is willing to challenge the establishment’s “acceptable” ideas and liberal pieties.
“Contemporary historians,” Gottfried writes, “display a bias against certain groups … that do not enjoy ‘liberal’ respectability.”
Some of those “unpopular” groups that Gottfried believes are being unfairly dismissed? Germans, southern whites and medieval Christians, among others.
On the white nationalist website VDare, John Derbyshire remarked on Gottfried’s “impressive virtuosity.” A glowing June 11 review found almost no faults with the new release and remarked on Gottfried’s “great skill and erudition.”
Another April article on the same website proclaimed: “Three Cheers Three Cheers For Paul Gottfried’s Revisions and Dissents.”
“The fingerprints of his intellectual prowess can be found all over the writings of the alt right’s better known names,” VDare’s Hubert Collins wrote.
Who is this Jewish intellectual being lauded on a white nationalist website?
Gottfried’s earned his undergraduate degree at Yeshiva University, Modern Orthodoxy’s flagship institution, and received his doctorate from Yale. He spent much of his later career at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, where he is an emeritus professor.
Gottfried calls himself a “paleoconservative”—another term he coined—which is usually taken to mean a conservative who value limited government, tradition and Western identity. This is in contrast to “neoconservatives” who emphasize an interventionist United States over other policies. Paleoconservatives favor an isolationist foreign policy, restrictions on immigration and controls on free trade.
But like many neoconservatives, Gottfried is Jewish, Northeast-born and was educated in an Ivy League institution. Still, he casts himself as a sworn enemy to neoconservatives, castigating them for being insufficiently conservative.
In 2008, Gottfried founded and still runs the H.L. Mencken Club, to create conferences that would provide a regular gathering place for conservatives like himself. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, these conferences have from their first meeting served to bring together “racists and white nationalists.”
Few people have known just how to make sense of Gottfried’s position in the “alt-right” universe.
Even he is a bit uncomfortable.
When his portrait was included a recent New York Magazine expose about right wing movements, he took issue.
“The editors of New York may disagree with my priorities and analyses, but I don’t see how this disagreement proves that I’m a white nationalist,” he wrote in the American Conservative. “They seem intent on lumping together all their villains and linking them, however circuitously, to The Donald.”
And months earlier, a National Review editor disparaged Gottfried’s newfound place in the “alt-right” dubbing him a “house Jew.”
Paul Gottfried, ‘Jewish Alt-Right Moses’ Has A New Book
Sam Kestenbaum is a contributing editor and former staff writer for the Forward. Before this, he worked for The New York Times and newsrooms in Sana, Ramallah and Beijing. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum and on Instagram at @skestenbaum .