Phi Beta Cons

The Death of Jeane Kirkpatrick

As everyone has heard by now, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, distinguished scholar and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, has passed away. (She was also a member of the National Association of Scholars’ Board of Advisors). Dr. Kirkpatrick was a living embodiment of two attributes rare in any sphere of life, but especially wanting in today’s academy – intellectual honesty and personal courage. She spoke plain truths to a scholarly world grown fat on illusions, and understood the difference between idealism’s veneer and true content. Although honored for these qualities by her countrymen, she suffered threat and insult from those on our campuses who hated the freedom she prized, becoming an early target for the new censorship. She also suffered from the confusions and timidity of an academic leadership that, knowing better, failed to rally to her defense. Dr. Kirkpatrick will long be remembered for great services to America, the world, and the republic of reason, but her memory may be most cherished for the nature of the enemies she was more than willing to make.

Stephen H. Balch was the founding president of the National Association of Scholars. In 2007 he received the National Humanities Medal from President George W. Bush.

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