Thanks for bringing Adler's statement to this discussion. I looked at the article in which it appeared
titled "A Curmudgeon Stands His Ground." I think that the quote from Gates is particularly relevant:
Henry Louis (Skip) Gates, Duke University professor and perhaps the country's most influential and fashionable black scholar, lambastes the "Great Books" committee for a "profound disrespect for the intellectual capacities of people of color--red, brown or yellow.
"Here was a chance for Mortimer Adler and company to redefine what our notion of the great tradition really is. But rather than to confront the challenge of the 21st Century . . . they turned backward toward the 19th Century. That will be seen historically as a great mistake."
I agree that it seems the committee, and Adler in particular, were stuck in a mindset from an earlier time, and failed to understand that including other viewpoints would bring immense value to the collection. (There were four women authors whose writings made it into the "Great Books," but that does not excuse the overwhelming preponderance of white male authors, to the exclusion of just about any other voices.)
In the article, Adler sounds like an old man whose patience has worn thin defending the committee's choices, and who made a harsh and unjustified blanket statement. In light of his celebration of the advances made in the 20th century toward achieving the ideals of equality in the society of the US, I think that your professor was speaking from emotion rather than from an examination of Adler's actual views. He sounds to me as if he was not a man to mince words. If he truly held bigoted views, I don't think that his statements would leave any doubt. Toward the end of the article, he's asked about a specific case mentioned by Gates:
[Gates' objection is presented:] "There is no way (you) could say with a straight face that (the black American sociologist, W.E.B.) Du Bois' 'The Souls of Black Folk,' the greatest work ever written by a person of color in his country, did not satisfy the three criteria of greatness."
[Adler responds:] "There's no question that Du Bois was a scholar. . . . But we left out all these white scholars of equal eminence."
In my opinion, his defense of the choices of the committee was wrong, but nothing that I've read by or about him so far suggests to me that Adler was a bigot.
I brought the piece in the OP here in case anybody found it useful. I might be wrong about Adler. If anybody can point to a sentence or phrase in "Rules for Conducting a Discussion" which has the remotest hint of bigotry, I'll swiftly delete it. (I'm positive that no such taint can be found, but the challenge might give people a reason to read it carefully.
Finally; I really appreciate that you've given me the incentive to learn more about Dr. Adler, humblesmurf