The Corner

National Review

A Few Thoughts on Kevin Williamson

I’ve watched in horrified amazement as the controversy over my friend Kevin Williamson has unfolded. It is a disgrace. Kevin is as gifted a writer as there is in this country. His description of a grocery list could provoke you to think.

Kevin has very strong feelings about abortion, as many of us do, though his are uniquely personal owing to his unique life. Nevertheless, he also has very strong feelings about capital punishment – he’s against it. Consequently, anyone who actually went to school on his voluminous, scintillating body of work would know that his tweets and podcast commentary about hanging women who abort their babies were bracing observations about the barbarity of killing the defenseless, not a summons to the gallows.

Since that point is perfectly obvious, it is equally obvious that Kevin’s defenestration was not about abortion. It was about keeping an eloquent, persuasive conservative of awesome range and depth out of what progressive elites think of as their “mainstream.”

I miss Kevin. We have no better writer around here, and that’s saying something because National Review has great writers. He was also, for the couple of years he was good enough to do it, the best editor I’ve ever had. I am a lawyer who has always liked to write; I wanted to be a professional writer but I didn’t start out as one. I learned more from Kevin about how to do this than from anyone or anywhere else. And just knowing he was going to pick over what I wrote made me write it better and made me a lot more comfortable about other people reading it.

He is such a singular talent, and a rigorous thinker, it astonishes me that any worthy publication lucky enough to have him would not revel in its good fortune. For a magazine to say having Kevin Williamson on staff would not make us better would be like a basketball team passing up Lebron James because it already has a couple of good forwards.

Most Popular

Liberalism as Faith

The British philosopher John Gray is not someone to shy away from ‘difficult’ topics. If you are looking for a provocative long read this weekend, his new article in the Times Literary Supplement ought to be a contender. I didn’t agree with all of it (for example, I would argue that the supposedly ... Read More
Culture

Our Cultural Crisis: A Kirkian Response

Editors’ note: The following article is adapted from a speech the author delivered at the Heritage Foundation on March 14, 2018. Few would dispute that we are in the middle of a grave cultural crisis. A despairing conservative critic wrote: “We are on the road to cultural disaster.” He placed the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

An Enduring Error

Editor’s Note: The following piece originally appeared in City Journal. It is reprinted here with permission. Fifty-one years ago, in July 1967, in response to an explosion of rioting in poor black urban neighborhoods around the United States, President Lyndon B. Johnson created the National Advisory ... Read More
Culture

The Mournful, Magnificent Sally Mann

‘Does the earth remember?" The infinitely gifted photographer Sally Mann asks this question in the catalogue of her great retrospective at the National Gallery in Washington. On view there is her series of Civil War battlefield landscapes, among the most ravishing works of art from the early 2000s. Once sites ... Read More