Joseph Sobran, R.I.P.

During a week that was marked by the passing of several notables (Tony Curtis, Arthur Penn, and Greg Giraldo among them), the death of Joseph Sobran was relatively overlooked-even at the magazine where he made his reputation, National Review. The remembrance linked here and quoted below is the best I have read.

Calling Sobran a forerunner of Ann Coulter isn’t far off the mark, though Sobran’s skewerings were generally more refined. In the 1970s as I read and slowly found my way from the muck of liberalism to the firmer ground of conservative thought, Sobran along with his mentor Bill Buckley, the writers at The American Spectator, and George Will were bright lights pointing towards right thought (in all senses of the words). Sobran’s later years were marred by a famous disagreement with Buckley (with whom he eventually reconciled), and with some questionable associations. Those later controversies fail to negate his earlier, brilliant writing. He is too soon gone, and is missed.

“…as Sobran frequently lamented, “the U.S. Constitution poses no serious threat to our form of government.” A president who tried to govern according to the Constitution would probably be impeached. We’ll see how much better the Republicans not named Ron Paul running for Congress this year will fare. “Most Americans aren’t the sort of citizens the Founding Fathers expected; they are contented serfs,” Sobran wrote. “Far from being active critics of government, they assume that its might makes it right.”

Though Sobran died something of a Catholic anarchist, he was no libertine. He understood, for example, the reality behind the euphemism of “choice” in the context of the unborn: “After tens of millions of ‘procedures,’ has America lost anything? Another Edison, perhaps? A Gershwin? A Babe Ruth? A Duke Ellington?” he asked, concluding, “As it is, we will never know what abortion has cost us all.” “

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