Menu JTA Search

Ouster of Hatchett Urged by Jewish Groups in New Controversy

The ouster of John F. Hatchett, a Negro educator, as director of the New York University’s new Afro-American Student Center was urged today by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and the Jewish Labor Committee. A Reform rabbinical leader meanwhile called Mr. Hatchett “a contemptuous, irresponsible and base rabble-rouser” who was “obviously unfit” for the university post.

Mr. Hatchett has been under fire from Jewish and Christian groups since publication of an article by him in a Negro teachers publication in which he charged that Negro pupils in New York City public schools were being “mentally poisoned” by “anti-black” Jewish teachers and “black Anglo-Saxons.” The issue was revived when Dr. James Hester, NYU president, announced Mr. Hatchett’s appointment to the new center. Dr. Hester decided last August to keep the teacher in that post after former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg so recommended.

The controversy was reopened on Tuesday when Mr. Hatchett told a student meeting at the NYU Bronx campus that Richard M. Nixon, Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Albert Shanker, president of the United Federation of Teachers were “racist bastards.” Dore Schary, ADL chairman, and David I. Asche, chairman of the New York Jewish Labor Committee, sent messages to Dr. Hester, urging that he rescind the Hatchett appointment.

Mr. Schary said that the Hatchett statement “once again demonstrates the kind of irresponsible, intemperate, indeed inflammatory remarks Mr. Hatchett showed earlier in anti-Semitic statements and writings. We fail to understand how a university of NYU’s stature can continue to tolerate — or apologize for — the unbridled bigoted mouthings of a staff member who holds an ostensibly responsible position in a sensitive area.” He urged Dr. Hester to “reconsider” the appointment. Mr. A she said that the teacher’s remarks Tuesday “once again demonstrates his gross unfitness” for the university post and “confirms our earlier condemnation of NYU” for the appointment. He said the problems for the university stemming from a man of “ungovernable fanaticism” would inevitably increase if Mr. Hatchett remained in his NYU post. He said the JLC was once again urging that “a dreadful error be rectified” and the appointment be rescinded.

Rabbi Maurice M. Eisendrath, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, also warned, in a speech here, that it was essential that the teacher’s remarks “not be equated with the total black community and thereby provide a pretext for white withdrawal from the civil rights struggle and the urban crisis.” A NYU spokesman said Dr. Hester was studying a transcript of Mr. Hatchett’s latest remarks and that after completing the study, he would confer with other university officials. The spokesman said that otherwise, there was “no comment” on the Jewish criticisms.

NEXT STORY