James Q. Wilson – Tribute to a True American

“James Q. Wilson was able to make students enthusiastic over prudence, while other teachers gained applause only with displays of liberalism or extremism.”  Harvey C. Mansfield, The Wall Street Journal, March 5, 2012, p. A15

“Scholar James Q. Wilson, who died last week at the age of 80, hated to be praised.  He was truly modest…So what did Wilson have to teach us?  It was mostly about the importance of character—in life, in politics and in political science.  Character is taught first by example and then with words…There are other things you need to know about Jim Wilson.  This wonderful man had a wonderful wife.  In the tradition of old-fashioned husbands, everything he did was done for her—and not to settle a personal identity crisis.  And he was very American.  He never preached Americanism, but he like the things Americans like:  baseball, steak, beer, cars.  And when not keeping up with the profession, he liked a good book.”  Harvey C. Mansfield (a professor of government at Harvard University and a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution), Ibid.

Mansfield’s comments about Wilson’s love for America reminded me of Dr. Fred C. Schwarz’s confrontation with a group of Communists on Princess Street in Edinburgh, Scotland.  I pick up Schwarz’s report:  “In the midst of the argument one Communist asked me, ‘Well, what is freedom?’  I replied, ‘You might define freedom as the right to live like an American, inhabit a comfortable and centrally heated home, drive your own automobile, own a refrigerator, a washing machine, a radio, a television set, eat all the food you desire, and have an argument like this without the police cutting your throat.’  He replied, ‘If I was a policeman, I would cut your throat.’  I said, “Do you really mean that?’ He replied, ‘I certainly do.’”  Fred C. Schwarz and David A. Noebel, You Can Still Trust the Communists (to be Communists), p. 237

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