Friday, December 08, 2006

Jeane Kirkpatrick: A Model Academic

By Richard Vedder

A colleague of mine at the American Enterprise Institute, Jeane Kirkpatrick, died last night. She was a great woman, a person of enormous personal integrity and strength of character, who also had a nice sense of humor. She will be missed.

Prof. Kirkpatrick was best known for serving as Ronald Reagan's strong-willed but effective Ambassador to the United Nations, or for her marvelous talk to the Republican Convention in, I believe, 1984, where she lamented the "San Francisco Democrats" that had made her disillusioned with her own political party (the Democratic Party). She was a quinessential Reagan Era Cold Warrior, one of a small but hardy band of visionary and principled political leaders who contributed mightily to America winning the Cold War.

But I like Ambassador Kirkpatrick for two other reasons. One, she was intellectually honest, and said what she thinks. That is an increasingly rare commodity these days, and many in the academy engage in self-censorship, afraid to say what they think is right, for fear of offending someone. The tyranny of political correctness has robbed the academy of some of its greatest strength, its intellectual diversity. Jean Kirkpatrick never suffered from self doubt or peer intimidation. Second, even as she grew more frail, in her mid 70s she considered it important to meet with students and teach classes, which she did, sharing her wisdom with the rest of the world. She thought teaching was an important responsibility, and passing on the wisdom of one generation to the next to be a noble calling. I am privileged to have had a few good conversations myself with her. She was a wonderful colleague, and will be greatly missed.

7 comments:

Bob Yates said...

It certainly is interesting the kind of "integrity" and "honesty" our gracious host admires.

Here is a passage from her obituary that ran in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Mrs. Kirkpatrick was at the June 1984 National Security Planning Group meeting that began the secret initiative called the Iran-Contra affair. Congress had cut off funds for the Contras. At the CIA, Director William Casey wanted to obtain money from foreign countries in defiance of the ban.

Mrs. Kirkpatrick was in favor: "We should make the maximum effort to find the money," she said. Secretary of State George Shultz was opposed. "It is an impeachable offense," he said. Reagan warned that if the story leaked, "we'll all be hanging by our thumbs in front of the White House."

***

Anonymous said...

How deep did you have to dig, and how far back did you have to go to find that useless, self-serving tid-bit of information? Leave it to "The San Francrisco Chronicle" to include political shrill in an OBITUARY.

Did it ever occur to you that "our gracious host" may not have known Kirkpatrick at the time a meeting she alledly attended and made an alleged statement according to the liberal chronicle?

Go ahead and pass judgement on the author. Your type of post serves only to divide people and is about as useless as a hemorrhoid - which is probably better known to you as a "speed bump".

Anonymous said...

How deep did you have to dig, and how far back did you have to go to find that useless, self-serving tid-bit of information? Leave it to "The San Francrisco Chronicle" to include political shrill in an OBITUARY.

Did it ever occur to you that "our gracious host" may not have known Kirkpatrick at the time a meeting she alledly attended and made an alleged statement according to the liberal chronicle?

Go ahead and pass judgement on the author. Your type of post serves only to divide people and is about as useless as a hemorrhoid - which is probably better known to you as a "speed bump".

Anonymous said...

How deep did you have to dig, and how far back did you have to go to find that useless, self-serving tid-bit of information? Leave it to "The San Francrisco Chronicle" to include political shrill in an OBITUARY.

Did it ever occur to you that "our gracious host" may not have known Kirkpatrick at the time a meeting she allegedly attended and made an alleged statement according to the liberal chronicle?

Go ahead and pass judgement on the author. Your type of post serves only to divide people and is about as useless as a hemorrhoid - which is probably better known to you as a "speed bump".

Anonymous said...

All comments posted in triplicate.

Anonymous said...

All comments posted in triplicate.

eileen said...

Jeane Kirkpatrick was an academic-- a brilliant woman--kind and empathetic, generous in giving if allowed to do so privately to causes that might surprise many-- and a moral, ethical human who was so far above those would might choose to defame her after her life ended that they deserve no response. I did know her, and will revere my memories of her forever. She would have made an outstanding first woman President of the U.S., something she admitted to having considered, but said the time had never been right. She adored her husband and sons more than life, and deeply felt the death of her husband, having lost her, "life's editor", as she said. She was the definition of integrity, as I had fortune of knowing and hearing more than once. She should be remembered for all she contributed, to her superior intelligence and clarity of vision, and for her deep concern for all mankind. She was one of a kind. She cared more about what she said, taught and did than what others thought, and despite tempting offers to "advance" herself, held true to her dignity, morals and beliefs to the end. She was an American hero.