Means and ends are central. If your means are corroded, your ends will be corroded. And if you're fighting to preserve liberty and you use means that eviscerate our liberties, the end will be corroded, too.— Nat Hentoff
The most charming Nat Hentoff quotes to get the best of your day
Americans have only the dimmest notion of what their constitutional freedoms are - and what it took to get them...[and] the willingness to surrender what we're supposed to be fighting for is a recurring part of our history.
I always wanted to be a lawyer,but I certainly never wanted to be a trapeze performer.
There is a seamless web to life.. all life is sacred.
A lot of people in the adult population have a very limited idea as to why they are Americans, why we have a First Amendment or a Bill of Rights.
My parents were Orthodox Jews but not very regular Orthodox Jews.
I was bar mitzvahed and all that. But God was hardly ever mentioned in my family. Franklin D. Roosevelt was.
Why has slamming a ball with a racquet become so obsessive a pleasure for so many of us? It seems clear to me that a primary attraction of the sport is the opportunity it gives to release aggression physically without being arrested for felonious assault.
My contact with [Cato] was strange. They're ideologues, like Trotskyites. All questions must be seen and solved within the true faith of libertarianism, the idea of minimal government. And like Trotskyites, the guys from Cato can talk you to death.
We live in the village. We have a summer place in Westport, Connecticut. We don't spend a lot on all kinds of things. But I have no complaints.
A particular moment - and I'm not, to this day, quite sure how I feel about it - I had always wanted to be in the law books - you know, Hentoff vs. something or other.
We are going to have a long period where people are accustomed or conditioned to what's going on now with the raping of the Fourth Amendment.
Fortune ought to be a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master.
In England, you have what I would call government-imposed euthanasia
I was lecturing at the Columbia Journalism School of Education.
I asked them about what was happening to the Fourth Amendment. I said, "By the way, do you know what is in the Fourth Amendment?" One student responded, "Is that the right to bear arms?" It's hard to believe these are bright students.
Every life is different; being pro-life is not only about saving the fetus, being pro-life is about all the stages of life.
This is a dishonest administration, because it is becoming clear that the unemployment statistics of the [Barack] Obama administration are not believable.
One of the worst elements of Obama's career, which no one talks about, is that he voted twice for a bill that said, if there is a botched abortion, if the child emerges from the womb alive, it should be okay to kill the baby. We have elected a president - twice! - who agrees with infanticide.
However, I never thought that [George W.] Bush himself was, in any sense, "evil."
My father had always been a traveling salesman - New England, the South, whatever.
[Margot Hentoff] stopped [writing]. She decided that she had nothing more to say. And yet, every day, she has a whole lot to say, and I wish she'd write it down.
We have no idea how much the government knows and how much the CIA even knows about average citizens. The government is not supposed to be doing this in this country. They listen in on our phone calls. I am not exaggerating because I have studied this a long time.
This sounds corny, but I once told a kid when I was in a the library conference, the best - not the best, what I really hope for is that someday 20, 30 years from now, some kid, 12-year-old, 15-year-old, in Des Moines will be going through the stacks, if they have stacks anymore - they probably won't - and find a book of mine and get something from it.
He has absolutely no judicial supervision of all of this [ invasions of privacy ]. So all in all, [Barack] Obama is a disaster.
We disagree heavily on abortion [with Margot Hentoff].
When I approached one of his secretaries for an interview, I was told that Bob [Dylan] didn't want to see me anymore because of what my wife Margot [Hentoff] had written.
In terms of the Patriot Act, and all the other things he has pledged he would do, such as transparency in government,[Barack] Obama has reneged on his promises.
Now that is dangerous, when the people don't know what's happening to their Constitution.
[William Shawn] took over The Voice and tried to turn it into New York Magazine - very glitzy covers that promised practically nothing in terms of what was inside, very rushed paper anymore. You - not very contemplative, thoughtful or whatever.
It was a competitive examination [in Boston Latin School].
Poor kids, Brahmans, middle-class kids. The masters, as the teachers were called, didn't give a damn about - how we felt, what was - things like at home. I mean, this goes against the current grain. All they thought about was: `You're here. You made the exam. You can do the work. And if you can't, we'll throw you out.'
The Fourth Amendment is on life support and the chief agent of that is the National Security Agency.
I know [Arthur Koestler] fought in the Spanish Civil War.
He was in prison, I think, in Spain and in Russia. He came to the United States; that's when I saw him in the mid-1940s.
I knew A.J. Muste very well. I tried for a while to be like he was, and that is a total pacifist. But then Margot [my wife] hit me hard in the stomach one day to prove to me that I wasn't as perfect a pacifist as I thought I was.
I've - that I regret. That was stupid and ignorant on my part. I went to a party as a guest of a friend of mine, a lawyer. And he had a client who I didn't know, except - maybe I'm pretending I didn't know, but he was a big investor in The New Yorker. And as I found out later in a book about The New Yorker, this guy was very unhappy about [Bill] Shawn.He thought Shawn was spending out - spending too much money on writers.
Max Askeli was a very courageous, principled man up to a point.
He had left Italy before he was thrown in jail by [Francesco] Mussolini.
I went to school at a place that also shaped my life, Boston Latin School.
My mother, when she was younger, worked at Filene's in Boston.
And she was chief cashier. And I always wondered why she never went back to some kind of work 'cause that was a very responsible position.
Under the British healthcare system, there is a commission that decides whether or not, based on your age and physical condition, the government should continue to pay for your health.
A.J. [Muste] was a - as he likes to say, a radical pacifist.
[Madness] happened so frequently. I think what I was most maddest about - and it's in the book [Speaking Freely: A Memoir] - when the House and the Senate, back in 1984, were debating a bill that would - at least delay and maybe stop some of the ex - summary execution of disabled children - infants. And the Down syndrome kids and other kids had been, in some cases, routinely let die, to use the euphemism.
[Barack] Obama has little, if any, principles except to aggrandize and make himself more and more important.
I say this because the Left has taken what passes for their principles as an absolute religion. They don't think anymore. They just react. When they have somebody like [Barack] Obama whom they put into office, they believed in the religious sense and, of course, that is a large part of the reason for their silence on these issues.
They [FBI] had a lot of clippings, a lot of articles I'd written.
And to me the - the funniest one was - I had done a piece for Playboy about J. Edgar Hoover.
In that respect, Martin Luther King, whom A.
J.[Muste] advised in the civil rights movement, was also a radical pacifist.
[Barack Obama to be] much worse [than George W. Bush].
I'm working on "Living the Bill of Rights," and it's about people - well, it starts with Brennan and Douglas as people who not only live the Bill of Rights, but try to shape the reason for that.
[Bill Clinton] was the man, as a matter of fact, who, in terms of the Communications Decency Act, which would have made the Internet, the whole concept of cyberspace, vulnerable to rampant censorship - he pushed that bill, and I know the man in the Justice Department whom he persuaded - the guy didn't want to lose his job - to write the bill.
I write a column for The Village Voice, which I've done since time immemorial, and occasionally - and books. And I occasionally write minor notes for record albums and occasional articles.
The need for education for the individual student should be recognized.
.. home, neighborhood. But instead of that, we have the future being determined by standardized testing.
I met [my wife Margot] on Fire Island when I had a house there many years ago.
I had written a book called "Boston Boy" some years ago, and that took me from the time I could speak, I guess, in Boston through the time when I finally left to come to New York. One was understanding and coping with anti-Semitism. Boston, at the time, was the most anti-Semitic city in the country. And I found out when I was an adolescent that you have to be crazy to go out after dark all by yourself; you'd get your head bashed in.