The Corner

NR and WFB, Matchmaker

In Impromptus today, I start a two-part series, a mini-series: about Communism and anti-Communism. This is a spillover from a piece I had in the magazine: “Living Not by Lies: A gathering of the anti-Communist tribes.”

At this gathering, I met an illustrious couple, Roger and Juliana Pilon. They have long worked in freedom-loving circles, to put it succinctly. Juliana told me that NR and WFB had to do with their meeting — with bringing them together. How so? I asked her to write it up for us:

Picture a young woman recently arrived from Communist Romania, landing at the University of Chicago in the mid-Sixties, just as her generation was rejecting en masse the America her parents for 17 years had patiently waited to come to. Seeing the cultural carnage about her, she buried herself in Plato and his progeny. But it was National Review, which her father swore by, that gave her insight on this strange new world. Little did she know that this esoteric publication would in time change her life.

It happened in the coffee shop above the Philosophy Department — aptly named The Antinomies. Fresh from Columbia University — where he drove a cab to support himself — he was handsome, smart, and clearly sure of himself — intimidatingly so to one who’d spent much of her young life in libraries. That he’d been “around the block” raised only more concerns, until another suitor, seeing her guarded interest in this rogue, moved in with what he thought would be the coup de grâce: “You don’t want anything to do with that guy. He likes Bill Buckley and National Review!”

That did it. How bad could he be? Four decades and two kids later, the rogue and I still read National Review.

Marvelous.

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