I have been a fan of Nat Hentoff ever since I first read him in the pages of Down Beat magazine way back in the '60s. He died at 91 on January 7th. My tribute to him is a repost from 4 June 2012:
A Prime Instance of Political Correctness: The Blackballing of Nat Hentoff
Nat Hentoff is a civil libertarian and a liberal in an older and respectable sense of the term. He thinks for himself and follows the arguments and evidence where they lead. So what do contemporary politically correct liberals do? They attack him. His coming out against abortion particularly infuriated them. Mark Judge comments:
Hentoff's liberal friends didn't appreciate his conversion: "They were saying, 'What's the big fuss about? If the parents had known she was going to come in this way, they would have had an abortion. So why don't you consider it a late abortion and go on to something else?' Here were liberals, decent people, fully convinced themselves that they were for individual rights and liberties but willing to send into eternity these infants because they were imperfect, inconvenient, costly. I saw the same attitude on the part of the same kinds of people toward abortion, and I thought it was pretty horrifying."
The reaction from America's corrupt fourth estate was instant. Hentoff, a Guggenheim fellow and author of dozens of books, was a pariah. Several of his colleagues at the Village Voice, which had run his column since the 1950s, stopped talking to him. When the National Press Foundation wanted to give him a lifetime achievement award, there was a bitter debate amongst members whether Hentoff should even be honored (he was). Then they stopped running his columns. You heard his name less and less. In December 2008, the Village Voice officially let him go.
When journalist Dan Rather was revealed to have poor news judgment, if not outright malice, for using fake documents to try and change the course of a presidential election, he was given a new TV show and a book deal -- not to mention a guest spot on The Daily Show. The media has even attempted a resuscitation of anti-Semite Helen Thomas, who was recently interviewed in Playboy.
By accepting the truth about abortion, and telling that truth, Nat Hentoff may be met with silence by his peers when he goes to his reward. The shame will be theirs, not his.
Hentoff thinks that one cannot consistently oppose abortion and support capital punishment. I believe he is quite mistaken about that.