I noticed yesterday that friends in London were celebrating along with Sir Roger Scruton as he received the Order of Merit at the Hungarian embassy for his work as an anti-Communist and conservative intellectual. Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban took a moment out of the NATO summit in London to present Scruton with the award himself. Scruton was sitting in a wheelchair and bald. For those who don’t know, Scruton was diagnosed with cancer this year and is fighting.
But I’m happy to say that Sir Roger’s fight for his life is conducted in a season in which he is being honored as a fighter all around. Hungary is only the latest European nation to recognize Roger Scruton’s contributions to Europe’s resistance to Communism and its determination to preserve itself against ideological utopianism then and now. In June, Poland bestowed on him their Order of Merit. Back in 1998, Scruton received the Czech Republic’s Medal of Merit from President Václav Havel. A few weeks ago, he returned to Prague to receive the Medal of the Czech Senate, and there he recalled his time conducting seminars in that city, against the wishes of the Communist authorities.
The influence of his work is incalculable. It was from him more than anyone that I took my view of what conservatism ought to be: a defense of our home. So you will forgive me this splurge of emotion, even from a man whose heart is in two different republics: There is something wonderful about seeing such a gentle and brave figure loaded with high honors. In this process he is slowly recognized for being what his Queen declared him to be: a true knight.