Over at Pajamas Media, Scott Johnson eulogizes the late William F. Buckley, Jr.. First, probably his most significant accomplishment:
When Buckley founded National Review as the voice of the [conservative] movement, he performed two acts of statesmanship that were vital to the movementâ€™s ultimate, if unlikely, success: he reserved exclusive ownership of the magazine to himself so as to prevent the kind of sectarian brawls that had killed other such magazines, and he prohibited John Birchers and other kooky anti-Semitic organizations from the magazineâ€™s precincts.
Johnson also observes what is left undone:
Until [Buckley] gave up public speaking in 1998, his frequent campus speaking engagements were part missionary work, part performance art, and like nothing else available on the campuses he visited. In the decades following the founding of National Review, the conservative movement experienced successes that must have exceeded even Buckleyâ€™s visionary imagination. Yet the university remains almost entirely untouched by Buckleyâ€™s call to action. In fact, it understates matters considerably to say that circumstances on campus have not improved since the publication of God and Man at Yale in 1951.
Except for my quibble based on the fact that I distinctly remember attending a Buckley debate at Penn State in 2000 (after the 1998 cited here), I think this is a larger point that has been overlooked by some. While we certainly ought not diminish Buckley’s giant and consequential legacy, Johnson reminds us – in the spirit of President Abraham Lincoln – of “the great task remaining before us.”
As though a reminder were needed, El Presidente today focuses on a clash of politically incorrect student journalism and the university Free Speech police. While we mourn Buckley’s passing, the world keeps on turning.