Nash – Introduction of M. Stanton Evans
Introduction of M.
Society National Meeting,
April 28, 2000
When the board of trustees of the Philadelphia Society
decided last year on a theme for this year’s annual meeting, our choice was not
a difficult one. With a new millennium approaching, the time seemed ripe for the
society to reexamine its intellectual foundations in a spirit partly celebratory
and partly introspective.
In the year that has elapsed since the board’s decision,
our topic has acquired a timeliness bordering on urgency. We gather this
weekend, it is safe to say, with a mixture of sentiments ranging from cautious
millennial triumphalism to decidedly premillennial pessimism and (in some
quarters) near-despair. Where, at the dawn of a new millennium, is the
conservative intellectual movement going? To borrow the words of our society’s
president, are we entering a "period of seasoned maturity" or are we
"getting a little lame"? Some among us point optimistically to
conservatism’s robust infrastructure and hopeful prospects for the coming
elections. Others cite less promising cultural indicators, while a few on the
Right assert that the conservative movement as we have known it is dead.
Surely it is an appropriate time for the Philadelphia
Society to undertake an appraisal of its own. In the next two days we propose to
do just that. How firm are conservatism’s intellectual foundations in the
post-Cold War, post-Reagan era? How are we faring in the struggle to limit the
Leviathan state? What has the conservative community’s growing immersion in
politics and governance since1980 taught us? And how can custodians of the
ìpermanent thingsî translate our convictions into meaningful cultural
reclamation and renewal? These are
some of the questions we shall address this weekend.
To initiate our deliberations, and to provide a historical
perspective forged in personal experience, we are honored this evening to have
as our keynote speaker, M. Stanton Evans. As many of you know, Stan Evans is a
veteran conservative advocate whose career has been nearly coterminous with the
conservative intellectual movement itself. He graduated from Yale University,
Phi Beta Kappa, in 1955. Since then he has worked effectively and unremittingly
for the conservative cause that has defined his life.
Stan Evans’s first big break in conservative showbiz came
in 1960, when the conservative newspaper magnate Eugene Pulliam selected him to
be editor-in-chief of the Indianapolis News at the age of only 26. By that
stroke Stan became the youngest editor of a metropolitan daily paper in the
United States. Mr. Pulliam’s
decision was no act of impetuosity. When Stan took the helm at the Indianapolis
News, it had not had an editor for twelve years!
Said Mr. Pulliam of young Evans, ìIíve been looking for years to find
a man like him. I’ve combed the whole…country. There are lots of good
journalists around, but they’re all cock-eyed left-wingers."
Stan Evans was no cock-eyed left-winger. When questioned by
Time magazine about his political views, the newly appointed editor of the
Indianapolis News replied: ìI
think my philosophy is pretty close to the farmer in Seymour, Indiana. He
believes in God. He believes in the U.S. He believes in himself. This intuitive
position is much closer to wisdom than the tortured theorems of some of our
If Stan Evans was precocious, he has also proved tenacious.
In the four decades since he thus summarized his philosophy for Time
magazine, he has expounded it in a multitude of forums. He has been a newspaper
editor, a syndicated columnist, and a professor of journalism. He has been a
television and radio commentator and even managed to infiltrate National Public
Radio as a commentator in the early 1980s. He is the author of seven books,
including, most recently, The Theme Is Freedom. He is the founder and
director of the National Journalism Center in Washington D.C.
as well as a contributing editor of Human Events. He is a charter
member of the Philadelphia Society and served with distinction as its president
in 1996, 1997, and 1998. If
there is anyone among us tonight who claim to have been a representative voice
of intellectual conservatism since the 1950s, it is he.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is with pleasure that I present to you our
stalwart friend, Stan Evans.