Human Exceptionalism

Nat Hentoff Rightly Lauded

This wonderful column by Alicia Colon of the New York Sun is a wonderful tribute to my friend Nat Hentoff. He was honored in October by the Human Life Foundation, and I was humbled to be asked to introduce him. A few of my remarks are mentioned in this piece, but the focus should be on Nat.

Here is an excerpt from my introduction:

“Nat Hentoff is a superb writer and first class public intellectual. He is a man of consistent, steadfast principle, a moral purist in an age of hand-wringing accommodationists. This unyielding consistency has made him an iconoclast’s iconoclast. Indeed, Hentoff has described himself as “a Jewish, atheist, civil libertarian, left-wing pro-lifer.” Talk about cutting against almost every societal grain: No wonder he both thrills–and upsets–so many people!

Hentoff’s style is as individualistic as are his principles. In an age of shouters, he is quiet. In an era of facile talking heads, he remains profound. Where others agitate and self-aggrandize, he relies on steadfast cogent argument to persuade. Where contemporary pundits often tailor their views to cater to the powerful or popular, Hentoff courageously remains a challenger of orthodoxies.

Hentoff’s advocacy cuts a wide swath across what are often called ‘the life issues.’ Indeed, his unyielding stand over many years against abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, unethical human medical experimentation, and the ongoing bioethical construction of a “duty to die” has made him a moral beacon for those who believe that universal human liberty depends on society’s embrace of the intrinsic equality of all human life. And for decades he has connected the dots for his vast audience, expertly charting the consequences of our steady, but not always slow, slide down the slippery slope toward a veritable culture of death.”

So much more can and should be said about Nat. But I will put it succinctly: Nat Hentoff is a national treasure.

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