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Great men stand out in a crowd without even trying.
The following remarks were delivered at a celebration of Mr. Evans’ distinguished career held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on July 12:
I have known Stan Evans for a long time, approximately ten years longer than he has known me.
When I arrived on campus as a college freshman, Stan’s aura was very much present, even though he had graduated some years earlier. Just as it was assumed by us impressionable youth that a lanky prepster named George H.W. Bush might one day play a prominent role in public life, it was assumed, as well, that M. Stanton Evans would leave his mark on American journalism. And so it came to pass.
Stan will have forgotten this historic occasion, but I met him at an all-day meeting convened in Newark, New Jersey to contemplate the future of the Girl Scouts of America. In those hand-to-mouth days for us token conservatives, we would go almost anywhere for two hundred bucks. I was late in arriving and took my seat at the long table of conferees, with the audience rising around us in serried ranks to the top of a modernistic amphitheatre. The ritual introductions were already in progress. They went something like this:
“Hello, I’m William Bigelow from the Committee for Racial Equality. If we do nothing else today, we must confront the racial oppression under which millions of Girl Scouts of color are suffering each and every day.”
Murmurs of warm approval rippled through the audience.
Then: “Hello, I’m J. Somersworth Farnsby, co-founder of the Coalition for a Nuke-free America. I hope that we can all agree that the failure of the Girl Scouts to confront the overriding moral issue of our time — our government’s stockpiling of nuclear weapons — is a national disgrace. That disgrace should end right here, right now.”
There followed a sitting ovation for J. Somersworth.
And then: “Aloha. I’m Rev. Cindy Cistern from the Church for a Better Tomorrow! I’d certainly agree with Somersworth that we ought to rid the Girl Scouts of the badges, the uniforms and all the terrifying emblems of US militarism. And, as William says, racial injustice is clearly omnipresent in contemporary America. But the larger challenge for us is to throw open the doors for all young women to the full range of sexual possibility.”
Thunderous applause for Sister Cistern.
Along about this point in the program, the calculation was hardening that I should have held out for three hundred bucks.
And then … rolling out of the American heartland, came a rich, reassuring baritone voice saying, “Good morning. I’m M. Stanton Evans, a nonpartisan observer of the public policy process.”
Tentative applause, much confusion, as a couple of hundred nervous Girl Scout officials strained to get a glimpse of the nonpartisan observer in their midst.
You will remember those Gahan Wilson cartoons in The New Yorker. Scenes of a movie audience watching a horror flick. People writhing in their seats, screaming, covering their eyes with their fingers. In the middle of the audience sits one weird, pudgy little kid, grinning wildly from ear to ear. That was me. With M. Stanton Evans in the house, I knew that we had them outnumbered. And so it came to pass. That conference proved to be a long day for the forces of peace and sexual possibility.
I learned that day about one of Stan’s signal contributions to the public conversation: by the rigor of his thought, the clarity of his expression and the sheer weight of his argument, he has leveled every playing field on which he has chosen to compete.