[guest post by JVW]
Nat Hentoff, who gravitated from the political left towards a more eclectic mix of conservative and libertarian beliefs but who remained a staunch defender of the First Amendment throughout, died earlier this evening, as announced by his son on Twitter:
— Nick Hentoff (@Nick_Hentoff) January 8, 2017
Hentoff was an East Coaster his entire life, born and educated in Boston and later a fixture in the East Village scene of New York City where he served as a columnist for the Village Voice. Mostly associated with liberal causes such as civil rights legislation, campus free speech, and protesting the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 70s, Hentoff scandalized leftists when he later came out against abortion, supported Israel, and criticized political correctness over the last two decades of his life. The Village Voice dropped him as a columnist after a half-century of service in 2008, at which point Hentoff joined the Cato Institute and began writing for WorldNetDaily.
I’m not a devoted follower of jazz, so I haven’t had the pleasure of reading any of Hentoff’s writing on Dizzy Gillespie or Duke Ellington. I was surprised to learn that he apparently also wrote about country music, which seems an unlikely interest for an East Coast urban athiest with Jewish parents, so I’ll have to try to find some of that writing and check it out.
In celebrating the life of Nat Hentoff we honor someone who stayed true to his belief in our Constitutional liberties, but who did not let political dogma outweigh his conscience or his keen sense of right and wrong. May he rest in peace.