About Me

In writing the "About Me" portion of this blog I thought about the purpose of the blog - namely, preventing the growth of Socialism & stopping the Death Of Democracy in the American Republic & returning her to the "liberty to abundance" stage of our history. One word descriptions of people's philosophies or purposes are quite often inadequate. I feel that I am "liberal" meaning that I am broad minded, independent, generous, hospitable, & magnanimous. Under these terms "liberal" is a perfectly good word that has been corrupted over the years to mean the person is a left-winger or as Mark Levin more accurately wrote in his book "Liberty & Tyranny" a "statist" - someone looking for government or state control of society. I am certainly not that & have dedicated the blog to fighting this. I believe that I find what I am when I consider whether or not I am a "conservative" & specifically when I ask what is it that I am trying to conserve? It is the libertarian principles that America was founded upon & originally followed. That is the Return To Excellence that this blog is named for & is all about.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

A Tribute To Gertrude Himmelfarb

On Monday December 30, 2019 Gertrude Himmelfarb died @ the age of 97.
Carol & I had the honor of meeting Professor Himmelfarb @ the October, 2007 ACTA higher education conference in Washington, DC that was highlighted by Professor Himmelfarb receiving the 2007 Phillip Merrill Award for Outstanding Contributions to Liberal Arts Education.
Professor Himmelfarb was introduced @ the awards banquet by both her son Bill Kristol & my friend Anne Neal, then-President of ACTA.  I remember Kristol pointing out that for every 850 word op-ed he had written that his mother had written a 350 page book.  In short, he was a guy with an opinion & his mother was a scholar.
Professor Himmelfarb's acceptance speech was entitled "The Sovereignty of Truth."
The speech, impeccably delivered, traced the origin of ACTA, a recollection of Philip Merrill as a public servant, publisher, entrepreneur, & philanthropist of great distinction, & the acknowledgement of the first two recipients of the award Robert George of Princeton & Harvey Mansfield of Harvard.
Professor Himmelfarb recalled how both of her predecessors, in receiving the Phillip Merrill Award, elaborated on ACTA's motto – "Promoting academic freedom & excellence."
She recalled how Robert George talked more precisely about freedom for excellence.  Not freedom for its own sake, but freedom for the sake of excellence – "the well-being & fulfillment of human beings" – one of my two passions in this world.
She then recalled how Harvey Mansfield had spoken in the same theme of excellence as Professor George, but not any kind of excellence in small things, but the specific kind of excellence that makes for greatness – not the human dignity that attaches to humanity as a whole but to the individual aspiring to greatness.  Now she had my full attention.
Professor Himmelfarb added to her predecessors remarks by adding two other ingredients into the recipe of excellence – morality, & not just morality for its own sake but for the sake of truth.  She pointed out, quoting John Henry Newman, that "truth is truth all the world over."
Now to me, who has lived Ayn Rand's philosophy my entire adult life, this sounded an awful lot like "A is A" bringing up the four tenets of objectivism: reality, reason, self-interest, & capitalism with reason being man's only absolute.  It is this call to reason that I regularly make encouraging readers of this blog not to believe anything they read on this blog unless it is consistent with what they already know to be true, or unless they have taken the time to research the matter to prove its accuracy to their own satisfaction – paraphrase from Neal Boortz to listeners of his radio program regarding Neal's program.
Professor Himmelfarb defended Victorian virtues in her work over the decades in a forceful defense of morality, not as a moral prude in a politically correct way, but rather as the basis of a realistic standard for living that creates goodness, wealth, & an understanding of what is right & wrong that perpetuates itself.  It is when mankind rejects moral absolutes & replaces them with how we think, how we feel, how we believe, or that we never want to say something that is politically incorrect that our culture is not in tune with a fixed standard of right & wrong.  Just look @ any of the problems or destructive movements our society is bogged down in today & see for yourself how throwing out standards of right & wrong is the root cause of just about all of these problems.
In summary, Gertrude Himmelfarb's life was all about freedom, excellence, morality, work, thrift, prudence, temperance, self-reliance, personal responsibility, & most of all the Sovereignty of Truth.  She thought that the moral excellence of doing what is right & avoiding what is wrong was the overriding factor in rejecting the countless number of destructive government dependent programs available to people.
A charter member of this blog, who Carol & I met all those years ago @ the Phillip Merrill Award banquet, wrote to me after learning of Professor Himmelfarb's passing that she "had an immense impact on me" & that the word "'brilliant' doesn't begin to capture it."
Brilliant yes.  But to me that night, October 5, 2007, I realized something more than that – I knew I had been in the presence of greatness.


  1. Absolutely beautiful - not just moving but inspiring - like Prof. H.

  2. Not only with greatness Doug but a person graced by goodness and integrity. I’m sorry I never knew her.

  3. Doug - Just finished reading the current posting. Your tribute was well done. Sadly, we don"t have people like that anymore. This Nation has lost the moral concept. Our Congress is corrupt. We have people who have padded their pockets for decades and assume they are entitled to it. Unless term limits are set, nothing will change.

    Thank you for sharing that tribute with me.