Nat Hentoff: Resquiescat in Pace

Sunday, January 8, AD 2017



Nat Hentoff has died at the age of 91.  Hentoff was a life-long liberal who actually believed in things that liberals purport to believe in:  freedom of speech, civil liberties and tolerance.  He was a committed pro-lifer which in his social circles was akin to supporting cannibalism.  Hentoff didn’t care.  Throughout his life he did what he thought right, consequences to him be hanged.

Here is a column he wrote on my birthday in 1989:


Planned Parenthood recently assembled 13 distinguished civil rights leaders so that they might express their scorn for the notion that there is any moral connection between the Operation Rescue demonstrations “and the civil rights struggles of the 1960s.”

The leaders — including Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, Julian Bond, John Jacob, Mary King and Roger Wilkins — deplored the pro-lifers’ “protests to deny Americans their constitutional right to freedom of choice. They want the Constitution rewritten.” And in the unkindest cut of all, these leaders — once themselves demonstrators against laws they considered profoundly unjust — compared the nonviolent Operation Rescue workers to “the segregationists who fought desperately to block black Americans from access to their rights.”

Actually, however, a more accurate analogy would link these pro-lifers to the civil rights workers of the 19th century, the Abolitionists, who would not be deterred from their goal of ensuring equal rights for all human beings in this land. They believed, as these 13 civil rights leaders later did, that social change comes only after social upheaval.

What the Abolitionists were opposing was the rule of law — ultimately underlined by the Supreme Court in its Dred Scott decision — that people of African descent, whether free or slaves, had “never been regarded as a part of the people or citizens of the State.” They had no rights whatever. They were the property of their owners, no more. The Abolitionists did indeed want the Constitution rewritten.

Now, the pro-lifers, aware that the Supreme Court has declared itself in error before, are protesting the holding in Roe v. Wade that “the unborn have never been recognized in the law as persons in the whole sense.” Although that decision also spoke of a time when the fetus becomes viable and then may be protected by the state, in fact we have abortion on demand.

As Justice Harry Blackmun said in Doe v. Bolton — decided on the same day as Roe v. Wade — the mother’s health is paramount, and that includes, among other things, “physical, emotional, psychological, familial” factors. Abortions can be obtained for these reasons, and more.

So, like the slave, the fetus is property and its owner can dispose of it. Increasingly, for instance, women are undergoing prenatal testing to find out the gender of the developing human being inside them. If it’s the wrong sex, it is aborted.

Pro-lifers who maintain the fetus should have equal protection under the law are not limited to those driven by religious convictions. There is the biological fact that after conception, a being has been formed with unique human characteristics. He or she, if allowed to survive, will be unlike anyone born before. From their point of view, therefore, pro-lifers are engaged in a massive civil rights movement. In 16 years, after all, there have been some 20 million abortions.

Some pro-lifers, like some of the abolitionists, feel that nonviolence, however direct, is insufficient. They are of the order of John Brown. As noted by James McPherson in “Battle Cry of Freedom,” Brown stalked out of a meeting of the New England Antislavery Society, grumbling, “Talk! Talk! Talk! That will never free the slaves. What is needed is action — action!”

Those relatively few — and invariably isolated — pro-lifers who follow John Brown’s flag are surely not in the tradition of Martin Luther King, and the 13 civil rights leaders have reason to keep them at a far distance. But Operation Rescue, and similar demonstrations, are not violent. Entrances are blocked, and so they were in some nonviolent civil rights demonstrations. There is shouting, some of it not very civil, back and forth across the lines, but so there was in the 1960s.

The only actual violence connected with Operation Rescue has been inflicted by the police, most viciously, in Atlanta where one of the Planned Parenthood’s 13 civil rights leaders is mayor. A member of the Atlanta City Council, Josea Williams — himself a close associate of Martin Luther King — has said: “We who were the leaders of the movement in the ’50s and ’60s are now political leaders. And we are doing the same thing to demonstrators that George Wallace and Bull Connor did to us.”

Hentoff was an atheist.  However, I hope that when he came before God for his Particular Judgment hundreds of millions of little character witnesses successfully pleaded his cause.


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10 Responses to Nat Hentoff: Resquiescat in Pace

  • A very early Catholic said this in his First Apology…St. Justin Martyr:
    ” We have been taught that Christ is the first-born of God, and we have declared above that He is the Word of whom every race of men were partakers; and those who lived reasonably are Christians, even though they have been thought atheists; as, among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus, and men like them.”
    Justin saw Christ as Logos and all who acted reasonably til death as partaking of Christ. If the rest of Hentoff was rational to the end in the higher Aristotelian sense of unity to the natural law at least in obvious matters ( the saints fought each other in the non obvious like usury )….then I worry more about pro abortion Catholics then anti abortion atheists as to eternal damnation.

  • Hentoff loved.
    Love does indeed cover a multitude of sins, and his realizations and reasonable convictions to love the property of the property of the owners. They are the slaves of the property owners, and his conviction and connection is honorable.
    As you said, Mr. M…. “Hundreds of millions of little character witnesses successfully pleading his cause.”

    Let us hope all, believers and non-believers, will have the same convictions to the life of the unborn as the late Mr. Hentoff.
    God help the property.

  • I have a book by him about Cardinal O’Connor (NYC). I participated in Operation Rescue multiple times in Austin in the late 1980’s when I lived there — in fact I was at the first one. I don’t recall seeing any violence at them but there were arrests (for “trespassing”) and helicopters overhead. I don’t remember at this time if the helicopters were news or police. It did succeed in shutting down clinics for a day and saving at least some lives. I know Operation Rescue was and is controversial even among pro-lifers but I don’t know if you can argue with a non-violent tactic of civil disobedience which puts even a small dent in the baby-killing business.

  • Article by Nat. I knew him as a jazz expert. Good to know he was so pro-life. Accordingly, perhaps we could call him a crypto-Catholic in his pro-life position. Let us ask God to show him mercy. Here is a pro-life article he wrote in 1992.

    ‘Pro-choice bigots: a view from the pro-life left. by Hentoff, Nat’, ASAP, November 30, 1992

  • Michael Dowd.

    Great link.. Thanks.

    “Censorship in America” at Nazareth after He was dropped from their agenda a year earlier… Beautiful.

    Enslavement at the onset of the arrival of the fetus is truly an amazing description.
    Liberal feminist who claim to be in bondage due to the fetus are incredibly selfish and no less terrorist terrorizing themselves.
    They are enslaving themselves by their “choice” and committing themselves to hard labor, a life of self hate until they are willing to be forgiven through the generous offer by Christ himself found in reconciliation.

    So it goes.

    A mentality disturbed, corrupted and a selfishness that is fueled by fear.

    No room in the womb. Mom can’t be bothered now. You must die so Mom can be free. A sick culture, the left who, unlike Hentoff, can’t tell the difference between love and hate.

  • Perhaps Hentoff died of a broken heart. I myself am outraged at the hypocritical conjugation of Planned Infanticide and any civil right movement.! Let’s call it Stalin’s Daycare.
    Timothy R.

  • “Hentoff was a life-long liberal who actually believed in things that liberals purport to believe in: freedom of speech, civil liberties and tolerance. He was a committed pro-lifer which in his social circles was akin to supporting cannibalism. Hentoff didn’t care. Throughout his life he did what he thought right, consequences to him be hanged.”
    A real man. Atheist or not, may God have mercy on his soul, for if he cannot receive mercy then surely I am damned.

  • Rest in Peace Mr. Nat Hentoff. Your search for Peace and Justice is accomplished. May 60,000,000 aborted human souls bring you to Paradise.

  • Pro-Life in Texas: all public domain and public places belong to the citizens in joint and common tenancy You own it all and I own it all. For the police to arrest you on your sidewalk is totalitarian and a move against ownership and freedom. The laws they make up to cover their usurpation do not function as true law. If you are standing on common ground, they cannot arrest you.You are entitled to your opinion and your public places even for a Nativity scene Here in Maryland the state police arrested pro-lifers. The Pro-lifers sued and won $30,000.00. See INDWELLERS.

  • Nat Hentoff defended our constitutional POSTERITY. Read The Preamble

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4 Responses to Carrie Fisher: Resquiescat in Pace

  • Carrie Fisher was a cocaine addict and abused prescription medication. I am an alcoholic and a drug addict. There wasn’t a “med” I would not have abused given the chance. She had relations with partners, spouses and boyfriends in her youth – addicts are like that. I, having been the typical submarine sailor, had relations with prostitutes indiscriminately. Sex addiction was no different than alcoholism – it’s all “I, Self and Me.” She was afflicted with bipolar illness, one thing which God in His mercy spared me from having.
    I use the comparison lest anyone think he may sit in judgment of Carrie. She was a flawed human being. And I am very sorry at her passing. What I like most about her is her advocacy for people with mental health issues. Yes, she did say that she was an “enthusiastic agnostic who would be happy to be shown that there is a God.” I hope she now sees God and is at peace. I really do. Alcoholism and addiction are horrible diseases. Not everyone is as fortunate as me – to get a tough Catholic sponsor in AA and a tough Catholic priest to help him get sober. Carrie went through electro-convulsive therapy and the whole nine yards that goes with that. Not me. I had it easy in comparison. All I had to do was go to Meetings, go to Confession & Mass, and not drink or drug. We should pray for the repose of her soul, that God sees the hell she already went through and has mercy. You never know, folks, how easy we got it when compared to some others.

  • In her 2008 memoir; Wishful Drinking, she wrote her own obit…”Carrie Fisher dies at 60, drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra.”

    I liked her in City Slickers. Jack Palance’s character, Curly, spoke of “one thing only,” that is the secret to Life. I pray Carrie found that One thing before today.
    I’ll put her in prayer tonight.

  • Her mother is still alive and well enough to still be working now and again. I wonder if the experience of having to bury your children has grown more common as the fairly disciplined and (in comparison to their own parents) healthy Depression-era cohorts have entered the time in life when their children are shuffling into old age. My uncle and two of my aunts outlived one of their shirt-tails, and it would not be surprising if my uncle outlived at least one other. My uncle is 89. His contemporaries smoked cigarettes, but were otherwise moderate in their habits. There was almost no one in my parents’ circle of friends with a weight problem of much consequence and the alcoholics among them usually got off the bottle by their early 50s.

  • Very interesting and astute observations in the comments above. We are seldom privy to the faith journey of others. Our hope always rests ultimately in God’s mercy on His endlessly wayward children. He alone knows the intricacies of the human soul.
    RIP, Princess, you brought joy to many to many children (I was one), and no doubt will for a long time to come.

One Response to Resquiescat in Pace: Gene Wilder

  • Our family watched Willy Wonka yesterday in his honour.

    An obviously good hearted man.

    I will miss him too.

    In the age of rage I will miss his quiet, simple, clean, slightly skewed, head scratching ironic sense of humor.

Resquiescat in Pace: Brian Bergkamp

Saturday, August 6, AD 2016




A successful vocation:


Police in Kansas have announced that a body found last week in the Arkansas River near one of the city’s park is the body of Brian Bergkamp, a seminarian from the Diocese of Wichita.

The Wichita Eagle Daily newspaper reported that a fisherman had spotted a piece of life vest floating in the water with a rosary attached to it. That discovery led to finding the body of the missing seminarian. The coroner confirmed it was Bergkamp and his family was given the news first.

Bergkamp, who was studying for the Kansas diocese at a Maryland seminary, had been missing since he saved the life of a woman who fell into the Arkansas River on 9 July. Three days later, he remained missing and was presumed to be dead.

Bergkamp, 24, was among five people travelling in separate kayaks when all got caught in turbulent waters. According to The Wichita Eagle, Bergkamp jumped from his kayak to save the woman before getting pulled under himself. He was not wearing a life jacket. The other kayakers made it to shore.

His family said his funeral and burial would be private. “Our prayers continue to be lifted up for the consolation of Brian’s family as they take the next step to honour the memory of their son and brother,” the Wichita Diocese said in a statement this week.

The diocese expressed “gratitude to God for his abundant graces offered to strengthen all impacted by Brian’s death, to the members of the recovery team and personnel of the Wichita Fire and Police departments, and to those others who have helped in any way throughout this tragedy”.

“Brian’s diocesan family is also thankful that his mortal remains will be able to be laid to rest and have a place at which continued prayers may be offered for his eternal well-being,” the statement said.

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4 Responses to Resquiescat in Pace: Brian Bergkamp

  • That was a beautiful eulogy, TAC.

    Character is tested in the fire of a crisis. We don’t really know what we are made of until then. We all thnk we would jump into the river, but we don’t know.

    There was a Christendom College professor, Thomas VanderWoude, who witnessed his Downs Syndrome affected child fall into an open septic tank. He didn’t think twice. He immediately jumped in after him. He stood on the floor of the septic and raised his son above his head ….. Which was under the septic fluid. His son was rescued from that position. Mr. VanderWoude was not. His character was tested in an instant and found satisfactory by God.

    May I never value life as much as character and honour. May I always be ready to lay down my life, however it is required, for the sake of what God asks from me every moment of every day.

    Well done, Mr. Bergkamp! Godspeed! All the time spent in Seminary; all the time lost serving others as a Priest was redeemed in that one, shining moment of Truth that makes demons tremble in fear.

  • “Character is tested in the fire of a crisis. We don’t really know what we are made of until then. We all thnk we would jump into the river, but we don’t know.”

    Correct Brian. That is why courage is a precious virtue indeed, since it is often necessary if other virtues are to manifest themselves.

  • Conversation with my husband on this one was pretty short:
    Greater love has no man….

  • I hope in heaven he continues in his spirit of doing what he can to help.
    Saint Peter talked about us building and strengthening virtue
    2 Peter 1.4-11
    4 Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants in the divine nature.
    5 For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, 7and godliness with mutual* affection, and mutual* affection with love. 8 For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    11For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.

4 Responses to Resquiescat in Pace : Jerry Doyle

  • Babylon 5 was on just 20 years ago, and a number of the cast have left this world.

  • It’s a little too depressing seeing how much of JMS’s b5 universe has come to pass.

    Speaking of other cast members, the last I heard Jerry Doyle was on his radio show on a Good Friday, speaking of how good a man GWB was. Richard Biggs, who played Stephen Franklin on B5, died suddenly very young in 2004,and GWB (during his presidency) went out of his way to write the family and comfort them.

    A new Age is dawning for us, maybe, but which?

  • I avidly watched every B5 episode. One of the best space operas ever. Rest in peace, Jerry Boyle.

  • I’d never seen the show until one evening satellite had a marathon of B5 and I was hooked. Back in civiliztion I’d always looked forward to the Jerry Doyle radio show. He seemed a complex man who was often insightful on many subjects, and always entertaining. Having moved to a rural area our radio reception is almost nil. Wish I had known about his
    Rest in peace.

Ray Bradbury: Requiescat in Pace

Friday, June 8, AD 2012

You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.
Ray Bradbury

When I was a boy I devoured science fiction, and I still read quite a bit half a century later.  Ray Bradbury, who died at 91 on June 5th, was not one of my favorite writers when I was young.  A bit too complex and little if any of the space opera that I enjoyed so much.  However, even then I knew that what I was reading in “Dandelion Wine” or “The Martian Chronicles” was writing of a very high order indeed.  In my teen years I came across “Something Wicked This Way Comes“, and this passage has always stayed with me:

Sometimes the man who looks happiest in town, with the biggest smile, is the one carrying the biggest load of sin. There are smiles & smiles; learn to tell the dark variety from the light. The seal-barker, the laugh-shouter, half the time he’s covering up. He’s had his fun & he’s guilty. And all men do love sin, Will, oh how they love it, never doubt, in all shapes, sizes, colors & smells. Times come when troughs, not tables, suit appetites. Hear a man too loudly praising others & look to wonder if he didn’t just get up from the sty. On the other hand, that unhappy, pale, put-upon man walking by, who looks all guilt & sin, why, often that’s your good man with a capital G, Will. For being good is a fearful occupation; men strain at it & sometimes break in two. I’ve known a few. You work twice as hard to be a farmer as to be his hog. I suppose it’s thinking about trying to be good makes the crack run up the wall one night. A man with high standards, too, the least hair falls on him sometimes wilts his spine. He can’t let himself alone, won’t let himself off the hook if he falls just a breath from grace.

Bradbury was a native of Waukegan, Illinois, his family eventually moving to Los Angeles.  A child of the Depression, Bradbury lacked the funds to go to college and instead educated himself in libraries as he pursued a career as a writer.  For ten years he visited libraries three days a week.  He wrote every day, a trait he recommended to all writers.  (It certainly is a handy habit for a blogger!)  He endured endless rejections and kept pecking away on rented typewriters until he became not only a financially successful writer, but, much more importantly, a good one.

Although Bradbury is known as a science fiction writer, Bradbury rejected the label, holding that almost all his fiction was better described as fantasy, and I tend to agree with him.  In any case, he is the last survivor of the Golden Age of Science Fiction to pass beyond our mortal sphere, and that thought leaves me sad.

In a field dominated by liberals, Bradbury was a fairly outspoken conservative.  He gave the execrable Michael Moore hell when he named one of his idiot bait films Fahrenheit 9/11.  Go here to read some of his unvarnished opinions on some of our recent presidents.

His masterpiece is widely regarded as Fahrenheit 451, a cautionary tale of a future totalitarian regime with a friendly face that bans books.  For a book lover like Bradbury there could be no greater crime:

The books are to remind us what asses and fools we are. They’re Caesar’s praetorian guard, whispering as the parade roars down the avenue, ‘Remember, Caesar, thou art mortal.’

The book, which came out in 1953, has several prophetic passages:

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5 Responses to Ray Bradbury: Requiescat in Pace

  • “The book, which came out in 1953, has several prophetic passages: … ”
    His finger was on the pulse, in those, the good old days.

    ” We have everything we need to be happy, but we aren’t happy. Something’s missing. ”
    I connect the dots as his meaning that the things he mentioned began replacing God for temporal funsies, from what he said about “something’s missing” to what he (of a happy life) said about his career being “at play in the fields of the Lord.”

  • I devoured Bradbury, and Heinlein, as a kid. I believe there’s a rank of conservatives of a certain age and iconoclastic stripe that all have those tales on the bookshelves of their youth.

  • “May God deal gently with his ink-stained soul.” You write well of Ray Bradbury, Donald McClarey.

  • Thank you, Ray. . . Bradbury was my introduction to science fiction (together with Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game — another conservative author, btw, much to the exasperation of many ;-).

    ‘Fahrenheit 451’, ‘The Martian Chronicles’, ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’, . . . short stories like ‘The Long Rain’, ‘The Sound of Thunder’ . . . the short story ‘The Fire Balloons’, about a missionary expedition of priests to Mars anticipating the conversion of aliens, to discover they had left their material bodies behind them in a gnostic bid for salvation — sparking one of the earliest of many theological discussions with my father . . . so many good stories. I haven’t actually picked up those books in over 30 years, but I can describe vividly the plot and occurrences of every one. Books I relish passing on to my sons when they learn to read. What an imagination!

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