Five Rounds With Harry Jaffa

Charles Kesler, The Federalist, January 16, 2015.


In his youth in New York City, Harry V. Jaffa was a Golden Gloves boxer. His pugnacious ways didn’t stop there. When he died last Saturday, aged 96, his decades in the intellectual ring with fellow conservatives had reshaped modern American conservatism—although not enough, he always insisted. Even as his health failed, he was looking forward to the next round.

One of the political philosopher Leo Strauss’s first American students, Jaffa liked to quote his mentor’s favorite medieval aphorism, Solet Aristoteles quaerere pugnam, “Aristotle is accustomed to seeking a fight.” So was Harry, and the debates he launched, or joined, served not only to keep conservatives in fighting form but also to teach them what was worth fighting for and why.

The Federalist