This morning my friend Paul Weyrich, the great conservative leader, one of the founders of the Heritage Foundation and CEO and Chairman of the Free Congress Foundation, died at age 66, after for many years heroically battling an array of serious illnesses.
Paul Weyrich’s impact on the national stage is well known. In 2007 when I was doing research on the so-called “Christianists” for my book Religion of Peace?, I found paranoid Leftist writers referring to him as the “most powerful man in America.” He wasn’t, but his influence in advancing the wisdom of protecting individual freedom and limited government in an age of encroaching statism and collectivism cannot be calculated.
Paul Weyrich was also one of the first and foremost American public figures to see through the “Islam is a Religion of Peace” deception that spread through the nation from President Bush and others after 9/11. In 2002 he named me an Adjunct Fellow of the Free Congress Foundation and asked me to write a series of monographs on Islam: An Introduction to the Qur’an; Women and Islam; An Islamic Primer; Islam and the West; The Islamic Disinformation Lobby; Islam vs. Christianity; and Jihad in Context. The perspective I expounded in them was just as unpopular with the conservative (and of course liberal) mainstream then as it is now, but Paul was undeterred by that; he was determined to defend the West and present the truth. He even arranged for me to address the Council for National Policy in New York, where fantasies and deceptions arising from political correctness and realpolitik usually rule the day.
Paul Weyrich taught me a great deal, by word and by example — about how to deal both personally and professionally with the slanders and smears that are a daily aspect of this work (although I’ve not always lived up to his example in this); about how to avoid discouragement and keep on fighting no matter what the odds are, and about much more. He was an extraordinarily kind and genial man, a stark contrast in person to the vicious caricatures of him purveyed by those who feared and hated him.
A few months ago I made a trip to Washington to participate in a tribute lunch for Paul, arranged by one of his close friends. He was not in good health then, and I was grateful for the opportunity to, as the superlative jazz saxophonist and trumpeter Joe McPhee once put it, “give them their flowers while they’re here.” Still, he was such an indomitable warrior that I did not think it would be the last time I’d see him. I’m so very sorry that it was.
May his memory be eternal.