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Harry S. Ashmore

Harry S. Ashmore (1916-1998) was the executive editor of the Arkansas Gazette during the 1957 desegregation crisis at Little Rock’s Central High School and won the Pulitzer Prize for his editorials on the topic.


The Liberal’s “Commanding Cause”

Summer 1991 | Criticism

Since liberalism is shot through with compromise at the level of political action, it is constantly in need of moral grounding. Reclaiming Liberalism's examination of the principles set forth in the classic texts, as illuminated by the author's own experience, is a closely reasoned effort to provide just that. Leslie W. Dunbar offers an interpretation of the social contract which contends that people cannot be supposed to have willed their own injury, and asserts that the premise is violated by public acceptance of killing by political decision.

Doubling the Standard

Winter 1986 | Essays

In First Monday in October, the movie that anticipated appointment of the first woman to the United States Supreme Court, Walter Matthau plays a role that amiably caricatures the late William O. Douglas. The plot is built around a protracted judicial skirmish over censorship in which the fictional Justice Douglas, true to the spirit of the original, refuses to attend the screening of a pornographic film on the ground that it would be a waste of time, since, no matter how salacious it might be, he would not vote to ban it. "It is curious about censorship, how one reacts," Matthau observed. He found himself in wholehearted agreement when the script had the new female justice contending that pornography is inherently demeaning to womankind and, at the extreme, an incitement to violence. "Then I would hear myself putting the opposite view and believe everything I was saying," Matthau continued. "I suppose my emotional reaction is that there should be total censorship but my intelligent reaction is that there should be hardly any."


Below the Bottom Line

Summer 1983 | Essays

The first full-dress, generally sympathetic biography of the 40th president of the United States is prefaced by the author's declaration: ". . . I like and respect Ronald Reagan while remaining skeptical that his actions will achieve the results he intends." A considerable majority of Americans, if we are to believe the polls, have shared that view—and many still do, even though the election results at midterm indicated that the amiable Californian's personal popularity was no longer impervious to declining confidence in his programs and policies.


The Great Re-Awakening

Spring 1975 | Essays

Although the dimensions and consequences are still in dispute, there is general agreement that the quality of American life has undergone a profound change. There are those who profess to hear in the discordant sound of the seventies the overture to a new epoch in the history of man. If the measure is rhetorical, there is no reason to question the verdict. The effective disappearance of the restraints of libel, taste, and tradition upon public discourse has permitted an assault upon the verities that previously would have been rejected, if not suppressed, on grounds of blasphemy, scurrility, or obscenity—or, not uncommonly, all three.