James J. Kilpatrick
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James Jackson Kilpatrick (November 1, 1920 – August 15, 2010) was an American editorial columnist and grammarian. He was a legal abstractionist, a social conservative, and an economic libertarian according to Harvard (1983).
Kilpatrick was born and reared in Oklahoma City, and received his degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in 1941. He spent many years as an editor of The Richmond News Leader in Richmond, Virginia.
Chappell (1998) shows that there were two factions of Southern segregationists that opposed federal enforcement of civil rights legislation between 1957 and 1962. The first used states' rights and constitutional arguments to justify segregation on an intellectual level; Kilpatrick was an important leader of this faction. The second group used highly emotional language to justify segregation for reasons of racial purity, often inclining toward the anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic. Roy V. Harris, Georgia's political "kingmaker," was one of the leaders of this second group.
During the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, Kilpatrick was noted as a fervent segregationist. MacLean states that, "The National Review made Kilpatrick its voice on the civil rights movement and the Constitution, as Buckley and Kilpatrick united North and South in a shared vision for the nation that included upholding white supremacy.". The National Review was the conservative magazine edited by William F. Buckley, Jr..
Kilpatrick's arguments against desegregation were not solely based on federalism, however. In 1963, he submitted an article for the The Saturday Evening Post entitled "The Hell He Is Equal" in which he wrote that the "Negro race, as a race, is in fact an inferior race." (The article was rejected by the magazine's editors after four black girls were killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.) He eventually changed his position on segregation, though he remained a staunch opponent of actual or perceived federal encroachments upon the individual states.
According to his Washington Post obituary Mr. Kilpatrick told a Roanoke newspaper in 1993 that he had intended merely to delay court-mandated integration because "violence was right under the city waiting to break loose. Probably, looking back, I should have had better consciousness of the immorality, the absolute evil of segregation."
As editor of the Richmond News Leader, Kilpatrick started the Beadle Bumble fund to pay fines for victims of what he termed "despots on the bench". He built the fund using contributions from readers and later used the Beadle Bumble Fund to defend books as well as people. After a school board in suburban Richmond ordered school libraries to dispose of all copies of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, because the board found the book immoral, Kilpatrick wrote, "A more moral novel scarcely could be imagined." In the name of the Beadle, he then offered free copies to children who wrote in and by the end of the first week, he had given away 81 copies.
Kilpatrick began writing his syndicated political column, "A Conservative View," in 1964 and left the News Leader in 1966. Kilpatrick is perhaps best known for his nine years as a debater on the TV news magazine 60 Minutes. He appeared in a closing segment on each show in the 1970s called "Point-Counterpoint," opposite Nicholas von Hoffman and, later, Shana Alexander.
In 1979 Kilpatrick joined the Universal Press Syndicate as a columnist, eventually distributed to more than 180 newspapers around the country.
Kilpatrick went into semi-retirement in 1993, shifting from a three-times-a-week political column to a weekly column on judicial issues, "Covering the Courts," which ended in 2008. For many years he also wrote a syndicated column dealing with English usage, especially in writing, called "The Writer's Art" (also the title of his 1985 book on writing). In January 2009, the Universal Syndicate announced that Kilpatrick would end this column because of health reasons.
His other books include The Foxes Union, a recollection of his life in Rappahannock County, Virginia, in the Blue Ridge Mountains; Fine Print: Reflections on the Writing Art; and, A Political Bestiary, which he co-wrote with former U.S. Senator Eugene McCarthy and Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Jeff MacNelly.
His obituary in the Washington Post (August 17, 2010) noted: "His stature as a writer, lecturer and commentator on public-affairs shows led to his appearances on the "60 Minutes" segment "Point-Counterpoint" in the 1970s. On the program, Mr. Kilpatrick debated such policy issues as family planning and the Vietnam War against liberal authors Nicholas von Hoffman and later Shana Alexander.
"If ever I heard an oversimplified fairy tale of the last years in Vietnam, I just heard one from you," Mr. Kilpatrick said in one exchange. They peppered their remarks with "Oh, come on, Jack" and "Now see here, Shana" and helped make possible even-more combative talk shows, including "Crossfire.""
60 Minutes, produced by CBS News, exerted considerable political influence in those days before drifting off towards softer cultural pieces in the late 1990's.
Kilpatrick's personal papers, including his editorial files and correspondence, are housed in Special Collections of the University of Virginia Library. Guides and descriptions of Kilpatrick's papers are available through the Virginia Heritage database.
- The Sovereign States: Notes of a Citizen of Virginia. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1957.
- The Smut Peddlers: The Pornography Racket and the Law Dealing with Obscenity Censorship. Doubleday, 1960.
- The Southern Case for School Segregation. Crowell-Collier Press, 1962.
- The Foxes' Union, EPM Publications, Inc., 1977.
- A Political Bestiary, Viable Alternatives, Impressive Mandates & Other Fables (with Eugene McCarthy and Jeff MacNelly), 1978.
- The American South: Four Seasons of the Land (with William A. Bake). Oxmoor House, 1983.
- The Writer's Art. Andrews McMeel Publishing, 1985. ISBN 0-8362-7925-5
- The Ear Is Human: A Handbook of Homophones and Other Confusions. Andrews McMeel Publishing, 1985. ISBN 0-8362-1259-2
- Fine Print: Reflections on the Writing Art. Andrews McMeel Publishing, 1993.
- Civil Rights Greensboro: James J. Kilpatrick
- Nancy MacLean, Freedom Is Not Enough: The Opening of the American Workplace (2008) p 46
- Richard Goldstein, "James. J. Kilpatrick, Conservative Voice in Print and on TV, Dies at 89", New York Times, August 16, 2010.
- http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,835072,00.html "Newspapers: Spoofing the Despots". Time Magazine, Time.com. Jan. 21, 1966.
- Nafeesa Syeed, "Conservative commentator James J. Kilpatrick remembered", AP in Tulsa World, August 17, 2010.
- Elaine Woo, "James J. Kilpatrick dies at 89; newspaper columnist and arbiter of language", Los Angeles Times, August 17, 2010.
- "Remembering James J. Kilpatrick, conservative columnist who died last night", Houston Chronicle, August 16, 2010.
- Chappell, David L. "The Divided Mind of Southern Segregationists," Georgia Historical Quarterly, Spring 1998, Vol. 82 Issue 1, p45-72
- Friedman, Murray. "One Episode in Southern Jewry's Response to Desegregation: An Historical Memoir," American Jewish Archives, July 1981, Vol. 33 Issue 2, p170-183, focused on his debates with Kilpatrick
- Havard, William C. "The Journalist as Interpreter of the South," Virginia Quarterly Review, Winter 1983, Vol. 59 Issue 1, pp 1–21