Remembering Harry Jaffa, A Thinking Man’s Conservative

David Allen, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, January 16, 2015.


With a few words, Harry Jaffa altered the course of American conservatism: “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”

Jaffa, a Claremont professor and thinker, died Jan. 10 at age 96.

Jaffa was little known outside of academic circles, but he was a local with a national reputation, one whose obituary ran in the New York Times and the L.A. Times. He certainly deserves some space in the Bulletin.

I thought I’d do it since I once got to sit down with him for an interview. But let me tell you first about his claim to fame, or notoriety.

Jaffa was part of Barry Goldwater’s brain trust when the senator from Arizona was nominated for president at the Republican National Convention in 1964. Jaffa heard establishment rival Nelson Rockefeller’s speech warning about the dangers of extremism and, as Jaffa told New York magazine in 2012, “I wrote a two-paragraph memorandum with the line about extremism in defense of liberty. Somehow that filtered up to Goldwater.”

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin