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The Village Voice is dead, long live Nat Hentoff

The Village Voice is dead, long live Nat Hentoff

Hentoff 2009: “I think Obama is possibly the most dangerous and destructive president we have ever had”

BuzzFeed Politics has word that The Village Voice is on life support, if not already dead:

Alt-weeklies are always dying. But the news Friday that four editorial staffers were laid off or had their hours cut to part-time at The Village Voice — two features writers, a news blogger and a listings editor — makes the sad fact of that paper’s eventual demise, evident for years, seems more immediate. The paper now has one news blogger, two features writers, a music editor, a few people working on listings and one critic, aided by a couple contributors, writing about food.

The layoffs at the Voice weren’t the only ones: papers across the Village Voice Media company, which owns more or less every notable alternative weekly nowadays, experienced layoffs, I’ve learned, including those in Minneapolis, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, and Broward-Palm Beach. The Voice itself is planning to move out of its iconic East Village office space in the near future, as I and other staff members found out last year. There have been many ends of an era for a paper that always prided itself at being on the vanguard, but this one seems permanent and final ….

The Village Voice isn’t dying.  It’s been dead since it fired Nat Hentoff at the end of 2008 (although later he wrote occasionally for it), leading to a very favorable (to Hentoff) major article in The New York Times:

Across his 83 years, his three dozen books and his countless newspaper columns and magazine articles, Mr. Hentoff has championed free speech and opposed censorship of any kind, whether by liberals or conservatives. Few have more assiduously and consistently defended the right of people to express their views, no matter how objectionable. In that vein, he opposes hate-crime laws as wrongly — no, make that dangerously — punishing thought.

He is unalterably opposed to abortion, but he cares about life beyond the womb, so he is against capital punishment.

He supported going to war in Iraq, but denounces the Bush administration’s resorting to interrogation methods regarded by much of the world as torture. He also has his doubts about President-elect Barack Obama, who, for all the adulation that we hear, “needs watching — like everybody.”

That last line is the perfect segue.

As The Village Voice has been a walking zombie, Hentoff has hit a stride worthy of great civil libertarians and libertarians.

Hentoff is now a Senior Fellow at the CATO institute, and has become one of the most prophetic voices against Obama, as I noted in December 2009.

In the hot summer of 2009, when Obamacare protesters where packing town halls and being called terrorists by Democrats, Hentoff wrote (emphasis mine):

I was not intimidated during J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI hunt for reporters like me who criticized him. I railed against the Bush-Cheney war on the Bill of Rights without blinking. But now I am finally scared of a White House administration. President Obama’s desired health care reform intends that a federal board (similar to the British model) — as in the Center for Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation in a current Democratic bill — decides whether your quality of life, regardless of your political party, merits government-controlled funds to keep you alive.

As passage of Obamacare approached in December 2009, Hentoff spoke out forcefully (noting the same dangerous self-aggrandizing phoniness your humble correspondent saw back in October 2008)(emphasis mine):

I try to avoid hyperbole, but I think Obama is possibly the most dangerous and destructive president we have ever had. An example is ObamaCare, which is now embattled in the Senate. If that goes through the way Obama wants, we will have something very much like the British system. If the American people have their health care paid for by the government, depending on their age and their condition, they will be subject to a health commission just like in England which will decide if their lives are worth living much longer…

So in answer to your question, I am beginning to think that this guy is a phony. Obama seems to have no firm principles that I can discern that he will adhere to. His only principle is his own aggrandizement. This is a very dangerous mindset for a president to have.

Hentoff continues also to speak out against the encroachment of political correctness and politics on our civil liberties through the proliferation of “hate” crimes laws, a solemn reminder in a week in which the SPLC’s “hate group” list is in the news:

The Village Voice is dead.  Long live Nat Hentoff.


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Cassandra Lite | August 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm

The last principled liberal.

    98ZJUSMC in reply to Cassandra Lite. | August 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Beat me to it!

    Absolutely. A intellectually honest and principled Liberal will always find a ear with me.

    What exists can probably be counted easily on one hand.

    The problem with liberals — even like Hentoff — is that they unwittingly ‘throw out the baby with the bathwater.’

    Principles matter. When you start ‘adjusting’ them, it’s only a matter of time until the principle you purport to follow has no relation to the original guiding principle.

    While a small minority of people will struggle more than others under a rigid, but working principle, the maintainence of the original guiding principle will better serve the vast, vast majority of people in the nation.

    There are conservatives in every minority class, you know — a lot of them. They know the score.

      Universal principles are not that difficult to define. The problem is with generational ideologues who follow a moving target. There are plenty of precedents and guidance, which should make our task all too easy. Unfortunately, there are individuals who dream of instant gratification. There are other individuals who are willing to exploit those dreams to advance their own political, economic, and social standing. This is the basis for corruption of individuals and society. Individuals who denigrate individual dignity and devalue human life. This potentially happens at all levels, from the poorest to richest, etc.

      We need to begin with objective standards. There is only one objective standard: the natural order. There is an axiomatic standard: the enlightened order. The first includes evolutionary principles, while the second assigns a universal dignity to each human begin, from conception to grave. It is the ambition of civilized society to identify and establish a mutually equitable relationship capable of preserving the second, while marginalizing the first (at least the baser elements) through the promotion and enforcement of self-moderating behavior.

      The problem with generational ideologues is that they are rebels, often without a clue, who reject traditional wisdom simply for its own sake. They do not recognize that the human condition has not fundamentally changed. The wisdom of our parents, grandparents, and ancestors remains equally relevant today. For example, the proper way to judge an individual’s faith or philosophy is by the principles it engenders and not by what may or may not happen in their post-mortem.

      Some principles are more obviously positive than others. Most people reject involuntary exploitation, but recognize reasonably compromises, say “to promote the general Welfare.” However, we reject progressive involuntary exploitation, which is often open-ended, and is a principal contributor to corruption of individuals and society. Most people recognize the intrinsic value of human life, which is why we avoid normalizing elective abortion of developing human life. Even people who marginalize human life for their own purposes describe it as a “choice”, as if they were deferring responsibility for the outcome.

      The balance we must draw is between liberty and submission with benefits, between distributed and centralized systems. The former is robust and dynamic, while the latter, by its nature, engenders a monopoly or monopolistic control. The latter is more vulnerable to corruption and more difficult to hold accountable. We should be wary when benefits are offered without a full explanation of the necessary compromise entailed. People need to acknowledge the inherent nature of our world ensures finitely accessible resources, both natural and human.

      Anyway, the generational ideologues have a predisposition to fanaticism. This is not a suitable characteristic to ensuring stability and productivity of a society. It engenders uncertainty and confusion. It increases risk while living in that society.

    There are plenty of pro life people who follow Nat on the issue of abortion and the death penalty. They are consistent in not taking life.

    I like Nat. I disagree with him on a lot of political issues, but I respected him. He is honest.

    MaggotAtBroadAndWall in reply to Cassandra Lite. | August 18, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Actually, Glenn Greenwald has always been extremely consistent about defending civil liberties. If he’d only write about civil liberties, I’d probably agree with him about 90% of the time.

    Greenwald’s problem is that he frequently wanders into subjects that are not related to civil liberties – such as economic issues and foregn policy. And on those issues I virtually NEVER agree with him.

As a lefty teenager, I actually bought a subscription to the Village Voice.

About the only part of it worth renewing was, and is, Nat Hentoff.

Hentoff seems like a true liberal in the classical sense, rather than the progressives/leftists/socialists that have appropriated the word “liberal” for themselves–dishonestly so, in my opinion.

Maybe we’ll get lucky, as a society in general, and this will also kill too. That would be a great blow for good.

The way things are going, the Family Research Council shooter will be charged with a hate crime … for not going far enough.

You want to REALLY see how dangerous and destructive a president Obama is, follow this story of the destruction of the Dept of Homeland Security by Janet Napolitano:

‘DHS Sex Scandal Widens; ICE Chief Goes on Leave’

And if you want to see a brutally accurate parody of it:

The bottom line is that Hentoff probably kept himself educated about current events by looking outside the leftist media bubble so many ‘liberals’ so willingly allow themselves to become entrapped in.

Additionally, Hentoff did not allow himself to submit to a cult. The hard truth is — and quite literally — ‘liberals’ today (especially the Hollywood clique), are part of a cult. The vast majority of them will feel too foolish to ever admit their great folly, and they will continue to be an Obama zombie, selling out their country for their vanity.

possibly he defines the difference between liberal and progressive.

I’ll have to read up on Hentoff. The only Village Voice article I’ve remember reading was David Mamet’s:

These elitist folks writing and opining for these elitist publications never seem to be able to figure out their most fundamental purpose was to bring eyeballs to the advertisers. It is similar to a ship with a leaking hull. If that hull fails, then all the glitzy braid on the captains hat does no one any good.

These people demeaned and insulted 50% or so of the potential eyes that their advertisers demanded and, as a result, they are no more.

Thanks for reminding us that there are still principled people out there.

“regarded by much of the world as torture”……….
The only people that “regarded” it as torture were anyone that opposed fighting the war against people that openly vow to destroy free societies.

The “Voice,” WaPo, NYT, CNN, MSNBC, Time, Newsweek, General Motors, Citi-Group, Goldman Sachs, and on, and on, and on…they just don’t seem to be able to get over themselves. It’s sad to see the Voice go but reassuring in the sense that if it fails it will disappear and not be institutionalized. A white knight would be fine so long as it’s a private party willing to pour money into a collector’s item, or be willing to force it to change. (Carlos Slim, are you out there? It’d be more fun than the NYT. Relax Steny Hoyer, it’s not the WaPo…yet.)

Paying attention to Nat Hentoff has always been worthwhile, though he missed Obama, which is interesting because unlike so many others with a vested interest in the man – unions, politicians, big finance, fellow-traveler phonies, swooning fools, loser socialist rabble, hangers-on, groupies, and unicorn worshipers – he had nothing apparent to gain by Obama’s election. Obama was NEVER secretive about his intentions; he always stated openly beliefs and principles that were antithetical to the well being of the United States, its ill gotten prosperity, system of government, way of life, and place in the world. Individuals he associated with, his wife’s statements, institutions and organizations he belonged to, his striking lack of any accomplishment, secrecy about his past, there was nothing to misunderstand. (Say what you will, the alternative was the exact opposite in every respect.) The only hindsight modification to Hentoff’s 2009 statement would be removal of the word “possible.” Obama is “the most dangerous and destructive president we have ever had.” Make no mistake, he has been very successful; the burdens, ill-will, and mistrust that he will leave-now or in four years-to America and the world are wide and deep; they will not easily be undone in either place.

1. IMO the nation is best off when both major parties, despite their disagreements, can be trusted not to wreck the country.

2. Afaic neither party was qualified to govern during 2000-2010. Heaven willing, that has begun to change with the advent of the Tea Party.

3. IMO the governance crisis is not due to the difference between the two parties’ (traditional) principles. It is due to how much each party deviates from those principles because of its amoral and/or crazed pursuit of power. The deviations from principles are bigger, and more threatening to the Constitution and nation, than the differences between sets of principles.

4. I try to respect intellectual honesty wherever I perceive it. Viva Hentoff! Presumably, being human, I don’t completely avoid a double standard wrt intellectual dishonesty which respectively agrees or disagrees with me. During this important election campaign, I make no bones about having a double standard.

5. Back when Obama, Pelosi & Reid were flying high, there were trial balloons to bail out the leftist media. If Obama is reelected, I don’t put it past him to try again while bypassing Congress.

Around the same time it fired Nat Hentoff, that once-interesting weekly took on board a raft of 20-something functionally illiterate hipster-poseur writers, who nobody cared about or read. So it is has been a most deserved slide toward irrelevancy & death for the now-crappy Village Voice.

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | August 18, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Two students at the University of Missouri got drunk a couple of years ago and engaged in some mostly innocent pranks. For exmaple, they ran a pirate flag up the flag pole outside the main ROTC building. They climbed a statue and tied a blindfold over the eyes of the person honored (I forget now who the statue honors).

But what got them in serious trouble was scattering a few cotton balls on the lawn of the Black Cultural Center. The reaction was almost as if they’d actually lynched somebody.

The two students were immediately suspended from school before they were tried in court. The president of the univeristy offered counseling to any student that was traumatized by seeing a few cotton balls on the grass. There were all kinds of op-eds in the major papers in Kansas City, St. Louis and Columbia (the main campus is located in Colmbia and that’s where the act of brazen lawlessness occurred). The prosecutor said publicly he was seriously considering charging them with a FELONY hate crime. In the end, he decided he could not make the felony hate crime charge stick because one of the elements of the law was not present, so he was disappointed that the most serious law he could charge them with violating was misdemeanor littering.

I’m not defending what the students did. It was stupid and insensitive. But being convicted of a felony could have ruined the boys lives. It would have been insane especially considering nobody’s personal liberty was violated by the prank and no university property was damaged.

Yet they were very close to being charged with a felony for engaging in what was essetially a thought crime that offended a bunch of liberals politically correct worldview.

[…] thoughts from Prof. Jacobson on Hentoff and from Rick Moran on what else was […]

TeaPartyPatriot4ever | August 19, 2012 at 1:57 am


“Mr. Hentoff has championed free speech and opposed censorship of any kind, whether by liberals or conservatives. Few have more assiduously and consistently defended the right of people to express their views, no matter how objectionable. In that vein, he opposes hate-crime laws as wrongly — no, make that dangerously — punishing thought.

He is unalterably opposed to abortion, but he cares about life beyond the womb, so he is against capital punishment.

He supported going to war in Iraq, but denounces the Bush administration’s resorting to interrogation methods regarded by much of the world as torture. He also has his doubts about President-elect Barrack Obama, who, for all the adulation that we hear, “needs watching — like everybody.”

I, we conservatives mostly agree with Mr Hentoff, who is a fine man with fine well-intentioned fine principles, which as are so because they are true and good by the very nature of it’s virtue.

But the term civil libertarian has different meanings to different people, especially among liberals. Conservatives do not care so much for labels, only what your ideology and thus position is on certain issues, ie; Individual Freedom and Liberty, Freedom of Speech, Religion, Right to bear arms, Right to petition the govt for grievances, etc. If the civil libertarian is on the same page as constitutional conservatives, great. But if they conflict with these Rights, Freedoms, and Liberties- ie; US Constitutional Principles, then we oppose them. Being anti-establishment is ok, for which we Reagan Tea Party Constitutional Conservatives are as well, just against the current progressive GOP RINO Party establishment of Big govt as why we opposed GHW Bush in many area’s as well.. His massive govt unfunded spending for whatever reasons, and especially his unconstitutional violations of Civil Liberties and Rights of American citizens, via his National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Of course it goes without saying we oppose this radical anti-American liberal socialist-marxist Democratic Party establishment Regime of Obama and company as well. Thus as long as it is for the right reasons and causes, not just to be anti-this or that.

Does not civil libertarian equate in some sense to the 60’s anti-establishment counterculture ideology, and that those inherent philosophical ideologies of civil libertarianism has thus evolved and produced into what we now see in the radical liberal political establishment of today under Obama.

I, we conservatives agree much of what Mr Hentoff has stated concerning his position and views on political and social policies, that which govt imposes on us, against the will of the majority of the American people.

Thus, I contend that the principles which Mr Hentoff has stated should always be the constant unaltering guide that leads one’s idea’s and words into action. But when those people and or political leaders fail to adhere to those guiding principles, they thus lose their initially intended purpose and goal, ie; they lose their virtue, thus their integrity and credibility to the People and Nation they serve.

Just as what has happened with the Village Voice, is now happening to the liberal Democratic Party and their loyal legions of drones who blindly follow them into immorality abyss, ie; impoverishing people into their utopian state of equal misery and poverty for all as dictated by govt, while trying to drag the rest of us down with them.

The only real true way to ensure that govt does nor impose it’s iron fisted, or soft fisted will on the people discriminately, or indiscriminately, is to enforce the US Constitution in every branch of govt, and side on the Conservative view that eminates and embodies from the very core and essence of the document- the American Declaration of Independence-
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”

There is a reason why the US Constitution and the very core and essence of the Declaration of Independence means so much, and has endured so much for so long, because of it’s virtue in being true, ie; the truth- Freedom and Liberty can only be attained and maintained by We the People.

Substituting the execrable Roy Edroso for the principled Nat Hentoff perfectly captures the ridiculous decisions the Voice made when plotting it’s own destruction.

I’ve been a fan of his since I read his book, “Free Speech for Me But Not for Thee”. Like other posters here, I disagree with some of his stated beliefs, but his book help persuade me to consider becoming a “free speech absolutist,” and lately even to becoming a “Bill of Rights” absolutist. There are very few people on the Left I can respect, but he’s definitely one of them.

More like dead since the late seventies. The Voice became unreadable due to being filled with nasty Liberalism ‘contests’ where any writer was ostracized for not being more Liberal than the next. Sort of like eating dinner with vegans where the entire conversation always becomes who is the more vegan.