Walter Berns — A Tough Start to 2015

Tevi Troy, Ricochet, January 12, 2015.


2015 may be less than a few weeks old, but already we have lost three of the most important intellectual figures in the modern conservative intellectual movement: Martin Anderson, Walter Berns, and Harry Jaffa. Many people, including Yuval Levin, Bill Kristol, Steve Hayward, and Ed Feulner have weighed in on their important ideas, but the three men also recognized the importance of bringing conservative ideas into the arena of government. . . .

Walter Berns was one of those intellectuals, serving as a consultant to the State Department and a member of the National Council of the Humanities during the Reagan years. He also understood the importance of ideas on a practical level from his time at Cornell, where he was one of the professors threatened by name during the infamous radical takeover of Willard Straight Hall. Along with Allan Bloom — another one of the threatened professors — Berns left Cornell in the aftermath of the incident, as did many other important figures in the conservative movement. Berns also famously feuded with Harry Jaffa, his former friend, and playfully referred to Jaffa’s work in a syllabus as “inciteful” rather than insightful.