Charles Murray

 

Like most people, I’ve spent my life traveling in modest circles. As far as I know, I’ve met only two significantly famous people.

In 1979, shortly before he became President, I met Ronald Reagan. I intended to vote for him but knew little about him at the time, and the briefest real-world encounter with him following a campaign speech in Albuquerque made no particular impression on me, though the speech itself was positive and uplifting — typically Reaganesque. I was impressed, of course, but more by his stature and importance than by any quality I discerned in the few seconds I spent in his company. Only later did I grow to appreciate the depth and quality of the man.

In the late 1990s, at a libertarian event in Atlanta, I had the pleasure of meeting — and having dinner with — Charles Murray. I was familiar with some of his work, having recently read The Bell Curve, and had considerable respect for the man. But an evening listening to him speak made a powerful impression on me.

I have few heroes, and I sometimes wonder if my reluctance to grant people that status hints at an unhealthy pride or cynicism within me, or, alternatively, is a sign of prudence and an unwillingness to elevate fallible men above the ideas they espouse. Men all too often have feet of clay; their ideas, if worthy, should not share their guilt by association. I have tended to focus on the ideas.

Charles Murray is one of the most decent men, and certainly the most intellectually accomplished man, I’ve ever met. That was my impression 20 years ago, and nothing I’ve heard or read of him since has changed it in the slightest. I have one hero, my father, embodying the idea of decency. If I had a second, Mr. Murray would be the strongest contender.

He has just turned 75, and partially retired from the American Enterprise Institute, where he will remain active as an emeritus scholar. Two recent podcasts available on Ricochet feature Charles Murray, and I think both are well worth listening to.

The first is Charles Murray on the right questions and the wrong answers, his retirement speech at AEI.

The second is Genes, Gin, and Government, Murray’s interview with Jonah Goldberg on the latter’s Remnant podcast.

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There are 8 comments.

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  1. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    Henry Racette, Thank you for making me aware of Genes, Gin and Government. I was captivated by “Charles Murray on the right questions and the wrong answers”.

    • #1
  2. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Listening to his AEI speech. Thanks for sharing this.

    • #2
  3. Flapjack Lincoln
    Flapjack
    @Flapjack

    Jules PA (View Comment):
    Listening to his AEI speech. Thanks for sharing this.

    Same.  Thanks for posting it here.  I might have missed it otherwise, and I’m glad that I didn’t.

    • #3
  4. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    It is amazing how Murray and the Bell Curve get routinely mischaracterized and slandered.   Progs get smoke coming out of their ears.

    • #4
  5. Trink Coolidge
    Trink
    @Trink

    Henry Racette: a sign of prudence and an unwillingness to elevate fallible men above the ideas they espouse. Men all too often have feet of clay; their ideas, if worthy, should not share their guilt by association. I have tended to focus on the ideas.

    Wise man^

    Henry Racette: Charles Murray is one of the most decent men, and certainly the most intellectually accomplished man, I’ve ever met.

    I’ll never forget my mortification as I sat in an auditorium at the University of Toledo to hear him speak about his book “The Bell Curve”.   The venue included some woman who was going to “debate” him on the book’s statistics and findings.

    It was a freaking nightmare.   She essentially delivered a screed about white male racism.  I swear:  . . one of her finger-waving statements was that all white men wanted to do was put their white balls into black holes.

    Murray simply sat there quietly and made a few remarks that addressed the relevant issues on which she refused to engage him.

    I knew that behind his impassive countenance that he was feeling incredulous that he’d been lured into this charade of a debate and that it would never happen again.

    • #5
  6. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    The AEI speech is brilliant but profoundly depressing.  I’ve been an admirer and student of Dr. Murray for over 30 years.  He has concluded that what he calls the “American Project” — meaning essentially everything that makes (made?) America special — is over.

    His one hope is for a Protestant Christian revival.  He does not use these words.  He refers to prior “Great Awakenings,” but those were all Protestant revivals.

    Adding to the tragedy is the fact that Dr. Murray is not a believer in God.  He cares passionately and deeply about the American Project.  He is a true patriot and hero of the cause, but he believes that the cause is lost.

    All that he can do is cry out for rescue, to a God in whom he does not believe.  It breaks my heart.

    I do not despair myself, because I do believe.

     

    • #6
  7. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):
    The AEI speech is brilliant but profoundly depressing. I’ve been an admirer and student of Dr. Murray for over 30 years. He has concluded that what he calls the “American Project” — meaning essentially everything that makes (made?) America special — is over.

    His one hope is for a Protestant Christian revival. He does not use these words. He refers to prior “Great Awakenings,” but those were all Protestant revivals.

    Adding to the tragedy is the fact that Dr. Murray is not a believer in God. He cares passionately and deeply about the American Project. He is a true patriot and hero of the cause, but he believes that the cause is lost.

    All that he can do is cry out for rescue, to a God in whom he does not believe. It breaks my heart.

    I do not despair myself, because I do believe.

    To be slightly less grim, he does suggest that he believes in — or is hopeful of — the long-term advance and prosperity of humanity. He speaks of “the next 200 years.” I don’t know what, if any, place he sees for America in that optimism; I suspect he’s humble enough not to presume to guess.

    • #7
  8. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):
    The AEI speech is brilliant but profoundly depressing. I’ve been an admirer and student of Dr. Murray for over 30 years. He has concluded that what he calls the “American Project” — meaning essentially everything that makes (made?) America special — is over.

    His one hope is for a Protestant Christian revival. He does not use these words. He refers to prior “Great Awakenings,” but those were all Protestant revivals.

    Adding to the tragedy is the fact that Dr. Murray is not a believer in God. He cares passionately and deeply about the American Project. He is a true patriot and hero of the cause, but he believes that the cause is lost.

    All that he can do is cry out for rescue, to a God in whom he does not believe. It breaks my heart.

    I do not despair myself, because I do believe.

    He did say, that through contacts with his wife and others, he sees that they get something he does not get. I heard that as a softening of his heart.

    So there is hope he will see the face of G-d.

    • #8
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