Missing My Friend George Neumayr - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Missing My Friend George Neumayr
George Neumayr interviewed on June 1, 2022 (The Simple Truth/YouTube)

I spoke with George Neumayr on the last day of last year. The call was cut short by an operator speaking French. I believe she was asking one of us to deposit more funds. Before that disruption, we did some catching up.

George said he was living in Africa, in Côte d’Ivoire, and writing about his lifelong passion. He was going to produce a book about the present and future of the Catholic Church on the African continent.

He was in good spirits, finally out from under the cloud of a nuisance lawsuit, and there was also a new woman in his life.

George sounded well. He said he just might settle down there, in Africa. With the same sense of hope and looking at the prospect of a new year, I told him that I just might come visit him and bring the whole family.

George connected with many readers who looked at him to “tell it like it is” on subjects political and religious.

Those hypothetical travel plans were canceled on a Friday in January. Our old boss, friend, and mentor Wlady Pleszczynski called. “Have you heard about poor George?” he asked.

I hadn’t. When Wlady related it to me — malaria, coma, death — I hardly knew what to say.

And I still don’t. Not really.

We both came to work at The American Spectator at the same time, though for George it was his second stint. We were not friends at the outset. I viewed us as rivals, though not vicious ones. I, the assistant managing editor, focused on editing columns and scouting new talent. He, the managing editor, focused most of his time on writing columns.

George was a good columnist. No, scratch that, George was a great columnist. When laying out your opinion, he told me, you should “strike with the sharp of the blade, not the flat.”

He did that. You always knew where George stood on issues, and quickly. But his philosophical bent would often take things to interesting places.

For instance, in a column attacking “the creepy Sam Bankman-Fried,” the FTX co-founder, George also stepped back and looked at the culture that marinated Bankman-Fried.

“Before bilking his clients at FTX, Bankman-Fried spent time in Berkeley, California, working at an outfit called the ‘Centre for Effective Altruism,’” George wrote. “He was its development director. There and at MIT he apparently learned that the key to success in liberal America is not ethics but projecting views and attitudes pleasing to the elite.”

George noted that Bankman-Fried “identified as ‘vegan’ and lived in a swinging multimillionaire penthouse in the Bahamas with a host of louche roommates. When not playing demented video games and wallowing in degeneracy, they fretted over racism and sexism. Bankman-Fried has admitted that this posturing was a charade. He called it ‘this dumb game we woke Westerners play where we say all the right shibboleths and everyone likes us.’”

George warned that America’s public “irreligious culture of virtue signaling without virtue teaches millions of young people to play that dumb game while losing their souls.”

In his columns, George connected with many readers who looked at him to “tell it like it is” on subjects political and religious. One of those readers was Rush Limbaugh. He would often read George’s columns in their entirety on air, and so George became a little bit of a household name to talk-radio listeners.

Perhaps not coincidentally, George was also a New York Times bestseller, though he was embarrassed whenever I pointed this out at gatherings. You wouldn’t know it from his writing voice, but George was not a loud man.

In large groups, he was a little bit reserved. One on one or among friends, he was a lot of fun. He was smart, funny, a good conversationalist, and oh he had stories.

Previously, he had been the op-ed editor of Investor’s Business Daily. The paper was slated to publish a column by Christopher Hitchens. George called the famous atheist over some detail, and Hitchens took the conversation in an unexpected and truly bizarre direction.

Hitchens asked George if he thought Pope John Paul II, well, pleasured himself. “He must!” Hitchens insisted to a dumbfounded George. “He’s a mammal!”

The reason George shared that story with me several years after we worked together at The American Spectator, and why I laughed so hard I almost shot liquid through my nose, was that we had become friends.

That was almost entirely George’s doing. I wanted to join the Catholic Church when I moved to D.C. For that, you need a sponsor. My efforts to secure one for the initiation Mass all came up short. So George, churchman in good standing, stepped up and said he’d be happy to do it.

That was the end of our minor rivalry and the beginning of a lifelong friendship. Thinking of George now, I only wish that life had been a whole lot longer.

Jeremy Lott is the author of several books and comics and one haiku.


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