Jerry W. Gerde, a board member of this magazine, passed away in January in Panama City, Florida, where he had practiced law for over four decades. I remember Jer for many things—often very hilarious things—but we should all remember him for at least one thing. Without him I doubt there would have been an American Spectator.
It was he who suggested that I join the conservative movement. At Indiana University in the early 1960s, the administration in its innocence made Jer my roommate. We had never met, yet suddenly Jer, a farm boy from an admittedly non-traditional farm family in Crown Point, Indiana, and I, a native of the Chicago suburbs, were thrust together in an all-male dormitory under the relatively harsh disciplinary system of the university. That is relative to today’s standards. There were hours for the co-eds, dress codes for both sexes, all sorts of rules and thus all sorts of opportunities for getting into trouble…and we did, both of us.
At one point I was expressing my near anarchic sense of freedom and Jer explained: “If you think that way, you should do as I have done. Join the Young Americans for Freedom.” That I did, and then we joined the ISI—not the Pakistani intelligence service, but rather the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. We were on our way. In three or four years, I had founded this magazine and put Jer on the board, where he served with intelligence and his customary ardor for the principles of a free society with limited government.
He stuck with us through thick and thin. Through the early Nixon years, when Aram Bakshian, John Coyne, and Ben Stein came aboard. Through the Reagan years. Through the Clinton years, when Bill and his friends tried to bring the federal government down on us. And through the long period of rebuilding.
Now of course we are strong and getting stronger, but we shall not have our quirky friend with us, to guide us and find new opportunities to get us into trouble. He will be missed.
I was immediately impressed with your new look and dug into the February edition as soon as I pulled it from the mailbox. Please know that your publication is eagerly anticipated at our house every month. The article by Peter Hitchens, “The Right’s Reefer Madness,” drew my attention. Being a child of the ’60s and having been delivered from drug addictions in 1973 and liberalism in 1974, I have a keen interest in legalization arguments as a conservative with experience.
Mr. Hitchens’ argument included a statement that “we do not own ourselves.” I agree, yet he was rather vague as to who does own us. I am convinced that to whom we belong makes all the difference in our personal and political lives.
Our present leaders in the United States seem to believe we all belong to the government, therefore that we get our rights and responsibilities from the laws of the land and that our children are a “clean slate” and must be educated by the state to be “good” citizens as defined by the state. This is in stark contrast to our founding fathers’ Christian view of man who belongs to God, is sinful, and is in need of redemption. These competing worldviews are diametrically opposed to one another and lead to very different outcomes both personally and politically.
Personally, a Christian will exercise self-control with the help of the Holy Spirit. A Christian will teach his children and all who will listen the dangers of self-indulgence and how to resist those temptations. Politically, a Christian will recognize that an unredeemed man has no self-control; he is bent to sin and will resist absolute prohibitions to pleasurable self-indulgence. Therefore, the Christian will attempt to protect the most vulnerable from choices they are not equipped to make and offer incentives to good behavior. In other words, remove the incentive of huge profits for the drug dealer by legalizing, taxing, and regulating recreational drugs for adults, and thus make it easier for parents and educators to keep them from children until they have a chance to develop the intellectual tools to make an informed decision.
The Christian view is that government is to protect the people’s rights from outside forces and from each other. Government is not instituted to protect us from ourselves! The Church and individual Christians should indeed discourage self-indulgence of every stripe; adultery, fornication, recreational drug use, alcoholism, and gluttony. But government is not equipped for persuasion.
The greatest threat to the evil drug dealer is not an overtaxed criminal justice system. It is legalization of drugs. His incentive to enslave children with lifelong addiction is removed with the loss of the opportunity for huge, tax-free profits made possible by the prohibition of recreational drugs.
Thank you for your thoughtful publication.
What a glorious way to start the new year, with your review of the new book by Edmund Morris, This Living Hand: And Other Essays. (“On Knowing When to Shut Up,” Dec. 2012/Jan. 2013.) But I have no intention of buying it. You have vindicated my opinion of Mr. Morris from way back when he published his famous “fictionalized” biography of our honorable President Reagan, Dutch: A Memoir. At that time in my academic career, I had given the book a negative review, and had exchanged some words with the author—which showed me a side of him that wasn’t professional. I have had strong feelings about this type of biography and also noted even the Library Journal cautioned against cataloguing it as “non-fiction.”
You are right on target with your review as is the rest of American Spectator under R. Emmett Tyrrell. We count on our reading it with one of our favorites, Ben Stein. Also Weekly Standard and Human Events and Washington Times Weekly and Imprimis along with the honorable opinions of Brit Hume and Charles Krauthammer, to keep us in balance in our later years.
I don’t know what the future holds for our beloved Republic, but we know it will never be the same as it has been for us in the 20th century. But we will continue on fighting, with the Armor of God firmly in place, to the end—Ephesians 6:10-18. We hope you will stand up and keep on telling us the truth!
(I have removed our letterhead from our stationery. I have no desire to hook horns with Mr. Morris at this stage of life.)
Just want to register two points of disappointment with your American Spectator magazine. As a subscriber, I believe I’m allowed to voice my preferences…and displeasures. First, maybe you and the board were on “reefers,” too, when the decision was made to go to the oversized magazine format, the one that more mimics the Europeans.
The old, traditional-sized magazine was compact enough to fit into most business bags/suitcases. The pages were also a handy size for thumbing through. Not anymore. I try to judge the quality of a publication based on its contents, not on its outward appearance, but I’ve already experienced something better in the latter regard.
Second, and more disturbing, I recommend you quit the Ben Stein articles. Why? I believe he made it clear he’s a RINO at best, as exemplified by his stance on taxing the upper-income classes. This started late in 2012, and I distinctly recall him saying on another news organization that the monies that could be collected from the upper ranks could well serve the cost of government—for mere weeks! If you can tell me that’s not succumbing to the Progressive line, I challenge you to confront me with it! At least try to collect proven conservatives for your articles.
Yes, you’re perfectly willing to ignore my feedback, maybe deride me among your cohorts. I’m also free to stop giving you part of my hard-earned money, making you that much less successful via usual indices. I’ll judge you again at the end of my subscription period.
I love the new design of your magazine. Usually I hate it when magazines get remodeled, but you folks really outdid yourself. The American Spectator used to be one of the ugliest magazines on the right. Now I think it is one of the classiest. You have done your namesake across the pond proud.
Dear sir, madam, or whatever:
I am totally dismayed by the larger size of your magazine. WHY, WHY, WHY? It has to rank as the dumbest idea since the marketing of green tinted sugar for left-handed, red-haired, buck-toothed, morphrodite cereal eaters! It won’t fit in my reading rack I use when I eat (alone), sticks way too far out of my pocket when I roll it up, and will extend way out of the stack when I tie things up for recycling. I can only conclude that a woman must have made this decision because to many of them bigger is automatically better!
I always eagerly await my delightful copy of The American Spectator.
This month, I was instantly flummoxed. “My God,” I gasped! TAS has morphed into an engorged and unwieldy periodical that challenges my normal human grasp. Has my beloved TAS succumbed to a Clintonian “penis envy?” Thankfully, the poignant and anticipated acerbic content were still there. But why so BIG? I have reading glasses. Has the Imperial Obama Regime forced this change? Conservatives have periodicals that are normal size with BIG ideas without needing a periodical with a BIG-GULP size. Please return to the original format that has served us for so long. I miss it.
Via the Internet