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Naturally Harvard should support President Conant in his stand against everything Nazi, especially when and if such a scheme of government threatens this country. But the whole business, it seems, could have been handled more tactfully and less clumsily on both sides.
Hanfstaengl blundered first. Instead of doing the usual and unostentatious thing and contributing to the general class twenty-fifth reunion gift, he chose to give his thousand dollars separately and individually, with great fanfare. The rest of his class contributed as a class.
President Conant chose to make an issue of this gift, refusing it as ostentatiously as it had been proffered, and seizing the opportunity to take a crack at the government of a great nation. Probably, except to the student who missed out on the year in Germany, the opportunity to prove Harvard's militant liberalism was worth a thousand dollars.
The second letter and offer from Hanfstaengl put Harvard in an unfortunate light. Certainly it would have been only common courtesy to have answered Hanfstaengl when, after such rough treatment, he wrote the President in defence of himself and his government. Certainly now it would have been only common tact and consistency, after refusing to accept his original offer in such uncompromising terms, to have deleted his name from the list of graduates to whom the letter was to be sent. Though presumably caused by a mere clerical oversight, the incident was a perfect example of how not to treat a publicity-seeking politician, especially when he happens to be "so closely associated with the leadership" of a great and proud nation.
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