Diary

Arnold Beichman, 96, RIP (or, NY Times runs a conservative obituary two weeks late)

Arnold Beichman, 96, RIP.

If you’re a famous conservative who dies, the New York Times will hem and haw whether to acknowledge your existence at all. After a long while, maybe the Times will get to it:

Arnold Beichman, Political Analyst, Dies at 96
By DENNIS HEVESI
Published: March 3, 2010
Arnold Beichman, a prominent political analyst, author and newspaper columnist known for being ardently anti-Communist, died Feb. 17 in Pasadena, Calif. He was 96 and lived in Naramata, British Columbia.

His son Charles confirmed the death.

Mr. Beichman (pronounced BYSH-man) wrote five books, the best known of which was “Nine Lies About America” (Library Press, 1972), a repudiation of New Left assertions in the 1960s that the United States was a racist, materialistic, imperialist nation. He was also a research fellow at the conservative-leaning Hoover Institution at Stanford and, since 1986, a columnist for the similarly inclined Washington Times.

So he died on February 17, and the Times waited the 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 1, 2, 3, until the obituary was published March 4th. When someone is 96, the obituary is already mostly written. (When Bob Hope died, his NYT obituary was written by Vincent Canby–who was dead at the time of publication!) Beichman was born in Manhattan, graduated from Columbia, worked on the 1940s NY newspaper PM, and had written also for NY Times (in its more sensible days). Do you think the Times would wait that long on a liberal?

From Commentary (February 17th–the same day):

Arnold Beichman, 1913-2010
John Podhoretz
Word has just arrived of the death of Arnold Beichman at the age of 96. Arnold was, I think, the most extraordinary man I’ve ever known, and though I first knew him as a boy, I found to my wonderment that I became his friend as a man, even though he was nearly a half-century older.
(…)
Arnold’s great issue was anti-Communism; it was the animating intellectual and political force in his life, and he was wise and tough and immensely knowledgeable and completely without illusions and totally without fear of the views of those who claimed his passion was vulgar and overheated. He knew evil when he saw it and he called it by its name, and he was as astonished as anyone when the evil against which he had fought for so long crumbled to dust in 1989. He was also a man with an abiding love for the United States as his rock and salvation as a Jew who did things no one could ever have imagined a poor Jewish boy doing in the year of his birth, and he wrote a wonderful book in 1972 taking on the critics of the United States called Nine Lies about America that I commend to you.

From The Corner at National Review Online (the next day):

Thursday, February 18, 2010
A Tribute to Arnold Beichman [Michael New]
As a political science doctoral student at Stanford between 1997 and 2002, I had the privilege of working closely with Dr. Arnold Beichman.

Also from The Corner at National Review Online (the next day):

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Arnold Beichman, R.I.P. [Rick Brookhiser]

How far back did Arnold go? He told me once about working for PM, a left-wing New York newspaper (in those days, the New York Post was quite liberal, but PM made it look blue dog). Reporters were putting on a Gridiron-like show in Albany, and in one sketch Arnold was playing Stalin. As he made himself up, Governor Dewey came through the green room, took a look at Arnold, and muttered, “Type casting.”

Now, the irony of this was that Arnold was a devoted anti-Communist, both in his left-wing days and his later winger days.

Again from The Corner at National Review Online (also the next day):

Thursday, February 18, 2010
Arnold Beichman [Mark Steyn]
I can’t claim to have known Arnold Beichman well, but he was terrific company, and had the best stories.
(…)
A great man. I was honored to be included in a Cold War anthology he put together for Hoover a few years back, in the wake of the wretched Jeremy Isaacs/CNN moral-equivalence wallow.

From FrumForum:

Remembering Arnold Beichman
February 20th, 2010 at 9:37 am by David Frum
(…)
We reminisced about many subjects, and at one point Arnold talked about his childhood on the Lower East Side. On hot days, he said, he and his friends would jump off the piers of the East River to swim.

Wasn’t that dangerous, I asked, having some vague memory of treacherous eddies in the river.

No, he said, not dangerous – but disgusting, since in those days the streetsweepers dumped the horse manure directly into the river off those same piers. Lumps of it would bobble around the swimming children.

Coming in a touch late (February 22nd) was the Washington (DC) Times:

Veteran Times columnist Beichman, 96, dies
Was a foe of communism
(…)
During his newspaper career, he wrote for the New York Times as a free-lance reporter, and was on the staff of Newsday and during the 1940s, the leftist daily newspaper PM, where he eventually became city editor.
(…)
“Arnold was a nonpareil in the history of communist subversion around the world,” said Arnaud de Borchgrave, editor at large of The Times. “Indefatigable, he roamed the world as a journalist exposing the clandestine activities of the Comintern as it sought to undermine democracy, and co-opt decolonization.”

The Weekly Standard was a bit late, perhaps, but it is a weekly:

Arnold Beichman, 1913-2010
BY Christopher Caldwell
March 1, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 23
My friend Arnold Beichman, who died last week at the age of 96, was friendly with the British upper-crust novelist Anthony Powell and knew the New York organized-labor radical “Red Mike” Quill. He rode motorbikes, piloted planes, and could quote stanza after stanza of Heine and Musset in the original. At the left-wing newspaper PM in the 1940s, he mostly covered labor and race relations, but he also may have been Wendell Willkie’s closest confidant in the press. He met Babe Ruth.
(…)
What Arnold was proudest of was his dogged opposition to Communism every place that it raised its head. Arnold was a mainstay of the Congress for Cultural Freedom in the early 1950s, a labor activist and an indefatigable writer and organizer. There is a funny paradox about anti-Communism. The misdeeds of Communism are today so obvious and well-documented that it requires a certain amount of patience and historical context to understand why, for instance, mobilizing international opinion against the show trials in Czechoslovakia in the late 1940s required any effort at all. So, although Arnold may have been the most fascinating storyteller I have met, he nonetheless gave the impression of being grateful to any listener willing to follow him through the historical twists and turns.

More from the New York Times obituary:

Communism, Mr. Beichman wrote in a 1982 Op-Ed article for The New York Times, is “a system that prohibits personal freedom and punishes citizens who insist on such freedom — a system run by a single party, the sole repository of truth, which brooks no dissent from that truth.”

It rules, he said, “by terror, secret police and the midnight knock on the door.”
(…)
Socialism is dictatorship, he told Columbia College Today, the alumni magazine, in 2005. “The control of wealth is the control over human life,” he said. “So if a centrally planned economy decides how wealth is to be created and how it is to be distributed, then they really have a control over human life.”

Coming in even behind the New York Times in remembering Arnold Beichman is Red State.

But we have not forgotten.

Beichman’s words on communism and socialism still ring fresh.