Farewell To A Great Journalist And Voice For Liberty

New York Sun

The death of the journalist Nat Hentoff, who slipped away Saturday at 91, takes one of America’s greatest tribunes of the Constitution at one of its hours of maximum peril. Hentoff rose to fame as a jazz critic of for the Village Voice. We tend to think it was no coincidence that his love of jazz, which toppled musical conventions, throbbed in the same heart that led him to challenge so many political conventions, particularly, though not exclusively, the political correctness of the Left. How we will need newspapermen like Hentoff in the years ahead.

It would be vainglorious to suggest that we knew Hentoff well. We first met him in the 1980s, when he sent an appreciative note in respect of an editorial issued in the Wall Street Journal. It was about a case in which the police superintendent in Bridgeport, Connecticut, was offered a bribe of $5,000. The superintendent rejected the bribe and arrested the hapless fellow who proffered it, only to discover that “briber” was attempting a sting for the FBI. Bridgeport sought to have the FBI agents arrested, which tickled the Journal’s fancy and delighted Hentoff.

As Hentoff’s career waxed, he more and more frequently “infuriated leftist friends,” as the New York Times obituary put it this morning, “with his opposition to abortion, his attacks on political correctness and his criticisms of gay groups, feminists, blacks and others he accused of trying to censor opponents.” Given the fact that Donald Trump just rose to the presidency on what at least in part was a campaign against political correctness, it would not be too much to say that Hentoff played the part of a prophet.

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