Nat Hentoff Quotes For Success In Life

Nathan Irving Hentoff was an American historian, novelist, jazz and country music critic, and syndicated columnist for United Media. Hentoff was a columnist for The Village Voice from 1958 to 2009. These Nat Hentoff quotes will motivate you.

Best Nat Hentoff Quotes

  1. “Those who created this country chose freedom. With all of its dangers. And do you know the riskiest part of that choice they made? They actually believed that we could be trusted to make up our own minds in the whirl of differing ideas. That we could be trusted to remain free, even when there were very, very seductive voices – taking advantage of our freedom of speech – who were trying to turn this country into the kind of place where the government could tell you what you can and cannot do.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  2. “I always wanted to be a lawyer,but I certainly never wanted to be a trapeze performer.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  3. “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.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  4. “I had not been very kind to J. Edgar Hoover. And the field agent had written on – it was sent directly to Hoover – that – the director should see this – `And, besides, Hentoff is a lousy writer.’ And I thought that went a bit far.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  5. “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
  6. “I have I guess 3 passions. One is the Constitution. The other is jazz and the other is being an atheist prolifer which, of course, gets me in a lot of trouble – all of which combines into free expression.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  7. “There is a seamless web to life.. all life is sacred.” ~ Nat Hentoff

  8. “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.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  9. “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.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  10. “I got a letter one day from somebody saying, `You’re always criticizing the press. Why don’t you talk about what Clay Felker is doing to your own paper [The Voice]?’ And my 10-year-old son Tom, now with Williams & Connelly, put in a legal opinion, not – an opinion from the back of the car saying, `You know why? What are you, afraid?’ So I wrote the column. I – you know, – the column simply said that Felker is destroying this paper.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  11. “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.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  12. “[Arthur Koestler] wrote some other very interesting books, but that book – I mean, if I were teaching, I don’t care what the course is, I would say you really have to read “Darkness at Noon”.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  13. “Do not categorize about music. You take each musician at the time and open yourself to that musician.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  14. “I think Obama is possibly the most dangerous and destructive president we have ever had” ~ Nat Hentoff

  15. “[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.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  16. “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.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  17. “The media ignores what is really going on.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  18. “I was introduced to jazz, and that’s become a basic concern and passion of mine ever since.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  19. “[A.J. Muste] was from Michigan and he grew up in the Dutch Reform Church there, which is a fairly strict church. He later came to New York. He was the minister of a labor temple in the – on the East Side. Then he founded, to my knowledge, the first, maybe the only, labor school; that is, Cornell has a labor department and other schools. But this was a school for – entirely for labor organizers, and he was the – the chairman.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  20. “Fortunately most of the people who were involved in anti-Vietnam activity did not con themselves into being like the violent people they didn’t want.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  21. “What we have now in America is a surveillance society.” ~ Nat Hentoff

  22. “There’s a black lawyer in Galveston, Texas, who was the unpaid NAACP general counsel in Texas. He had a great record in housing discrimination, labor discrimination. He decided to take as a client a member of the Ku Klux Klan because the state wanted to get the membership lists of the Klan to find out if they could get something on the Klan. And he said, `I got to take you. I despise you. But we, the NAACP, won that case; NAACP vs. Alabama in the 1950s. Nobody has the right to get your membership lists.’ He was fired from the NAACP. To me, he’s a hero.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  23. “I would bet there is no place in the United States where the First Amendment would survive intact.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  24. “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.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  25. “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.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  26. “Liberalism isn’t quite as liberal as it pretends to be. And it goes through my adventures with the FBI during the anti-war period and the civil rights period.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  27. “A liberal was somebody who expected and hoped that government would help the poor – you know, that whole routine. I did not know then and I’ve learned since that in an area that means a lot to me, free speech, liberals are as bad as many conservatives in trying to censor speech.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  28. “I went to a lecture of [Arthur Koestler ] once, I never met him.” ~ Nat Hentoff

  29. “I was writing – at least beginning to write Boston Boy and there were a lot of holes in my so-called research. I didn’t know the towns my mother and father came from in Russia. I didn’t know the name of the clothing store I went to work for when I was 11 years old. I didn’t know a lot of things. So I called for my FBI files, not expecting to have that stuff there, but I wanted to know what they had on me.But they did have the towns my mother and father lived in in Russia. They had the grocery store I worked in when I was 11 years old.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  30. Bob Dylan was really mad with my wife. I had asked by Rolling Stone – the only assignment I ever had for them – to do a story on the Rolling Thunder Review, which was Bob Dylan, Alan Ginsberg, Joan Baez and a host of stars. My wife, some weeks before, had written in The New York Times that The Kid wasn’t The Kid anymore and he wasn’t all that winning anymore.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  31. “Sandra Day O’Connor – once she said that there are – there were no public schools in America until the 18th century, and she overlooked my alma mater because we started – I say we – in 1635. And among the people who went there – and they’re on – the walls in the auditorium, the names are: Ralph Waldo Emerson and Cotton Mather, Benjamin Franklin, except he split when he was 10 years old to go to work.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  32. “Every life is different; being pro-life is not only about saving the fetus, being pro-life is about all the stages of life.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  33. “I was in the back of the book [in the The Reporter] doing music.” ~ Nat Hentoff

  34. “I told [a big investor in The New Yorker] – I was complaining the way writers complain.I said`[Bill Shawn] pays very well, but a lot of my pieces don’t get in,’ and that was true of most of the writers there.But he pays you for them, that was very nice of him. This guy didn’t think it was very nice. He figured, `Oh, my God, that’s more of my investment gone,’ and paying money to writers for not printing them. That became, apparently, one of his weapons against Shawn when he – in the corporate skirmishes that went on. It was a bad mistake on my part.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  35. “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.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  36. “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.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  37. “I was very much against the Vietnam War, and Max Askeli was visiting Lyndon Johnson in the White House cheering him on, writing editorials. And in The Voice one day I once referred to him as Commander Askeli. And I called in to The Reporter to go over the galleys of a music piece I had written, and the editor whispered to me, `It’s not gonna run. You’re not gonna run. Max Askeli has fired you because of what you said about him.'” ~ Nat Hentoff
  38. “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.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  39. “When I was a kid in Boston, it was one of the most anti-Semitic cities in the country. If you were living in the ghetto as I was, the Jewish ghetto part of Roxbury, and you went out alone at night, you might be subject to having people attacking you for being a Christ killer.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  40. “Fortune ought to be a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master.” ~ Nat Hentoff

  41. “[Max Askeli] started this very good magazine [The Reporter]. In fact, Meg Greenfield, who’s now the editorial page editor of The Washington Post, was one of the star reporters there.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  42. “Being pro-life is a basic perspective of everything I do.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  43. “The need for a pro-life point of view undergirds everything you do.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  44. “Duke Ellington had a song, “What Am I Here For?” – this is what being pro-life is.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  45. “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.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  46. “Abortion happens because of economic circumstances.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  47. “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. ” ~ Nat Hentoff
  48. “We need to keep trying to rescue the Constitution from the President.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  49. “Being pro-life is an essential part of being a writer.” ~ Nat Hentoff

  50. “The people I admire are those who keep on producing and working and going on.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  51. “The ACLU sees the separation of church and state as so absolute that not a single religious word must be allowed to pass a schoolhouse door.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  52. “Martin Williams persistently gets at essences, and that is why he has contributed so much to the very small body of authentic jazz criticism.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  53. “The main jobs would be The New Yorker, The Village Voice, The Washington Post and – I’m thinking of The Reporter when Max Askeli was there, but I got fired from The Reporter.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  54. “[My father] was very impressed when he saw “Death of a Salesman,” I must say. He recognized himself to some extent.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  55. “I was less angry at [Carl] Armstrong, though I was angry at the people who came to his trial: Dan Ellsberg, who ordinarily I respected a lot; Philip Berrigan; the guy who teaches at Princeton still – I can’t remember his name. And they were saying – well, they were saying, really, what Arthur Koestler had people saying on “Darkness at Noon.” The means were unfortunate and, sadly, someone died, but the end is what is important and this was a great symbolic – something or other – sign against the war in Vietnam.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  56. “Lilian Ross was a – veteran writer for The New Yorker. She, in fact, brought me to The New Yorker many years ago.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  57. “[Bill Shawn] didn’t edit the writers very strongly, but he knew what he wanted.” ~ Nat Hentoff

  58. “There wasn’t much said, but I was thinking, perhaps unkindly – not unkindly,but on – inaccurately of Theodore Dreiser’s “Carrie,” when the main character in “Carrie” has been brought down by Carrie and his – he – dress is disheveled and all that sort of thing. And that’s the last I ever saw of [Will Shawn].” ~ Nat Hentoff
  59. “After [Bill Shawn] was fired, I was going to the YMHA [Young Men’s Hebrew Association] on the Upper East Side to do a talk on free speech.I went into a coffee shop to get a piece of pie and a coffee, and I was reading a paper and I hear a voice. And it was -it was not a voice I was familiar with, but I looked across the table and I saw Lilian Ross.And sitting next to her was William Shawn – no tie, needed a shave. His voice was kind of coarse and rather loud. He wasn’t drunk, but I was just stunned.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  60. “Carl Armstrong was one of those people in the anti-war years who had been so convinced of the righteousness of their cause that he and some friends decided they would blow up a building at the University of Wisconsin, in which they said research was being done to help the war against the Vietnamese. What they blew up at three or four in the morning was a young scientist, who was married and had a couple of kids, who wasn’t working on war stuff at all. And he was killed.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  61. “If [Bill Shawn] liked the piece, then he would run it. But he wanted the magazine to be something that was more than just a weekly event. And as a result you could pick up a New Yorker under him, as I mentioned before, a year from then or 10 years or 20 years and there would always be something worth reading in it.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  62. “[I wanted] to play the clarinet well so I could be in Duke Ellington’s band, but that’s now impossible.” ~ Nat Hentoff

  63. “Margot [Hentoff] used to write regularly for The Voice, for The New York Review of Books, for Harper’s Bazaar, and she really had the most distinctive writing style, even more than mine, than I’ve ever seen in this business.” ~ Nat Hentoff
  64. “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.'” ~ Nat Hentoff
  65. “[Miranda Hentoff] was teaching once at Lincoln Center, and the hall was full of other professionals – musicians, professors, teachers. And she was explaining how [Béla] Bartok composed his second piano concerto. And she explained how the music was interwoven with the rhythms and what he had in his mind. And I was just stunned. This is a kid who used to work – on a piano with a cracked keyboard.” ~ Nat Hentoff

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