Quotes by Nat Hentoff

"Whenever I see that kind of story, where everybody agrees, I know there's something wrong."

"Most of us lead or are led by lives of patterned regularity. Diurnally, surprises are relatively few. And except for economic or physical uncertainties, we neither face nor court significant degrees of risk because a fundamental drive in the vast majority of us is toward the attainment of as much security as is possible.
In this sense, jazzmen, of all musicians, are our surrogates for the unpredictable, our paladins of constant change."

"We are talking about preventing our students from reading Huckleberry Finn! And why? Because it offends some people. Show me a book that offends no one, and i will show you a book that no one, in the whole history of the world, has ever willingly read."

"In 1965, as Ralph Gleason has reported, when Martin Luther King's march on Selma, Alabama, was brutally attacked by local and state constabulary, Louis Armstrong, then in Copenhagen, said after watching the carnage on television, "They would beat Jesus if he was black and marched."

"Recently, an internationally renowned writer for children commented about the Council [on Interracial Books for Children, Inc.] to me: “Of course, we should all be more tender and understanding toward the aged and we should work to shrive ourselves of racism and sexism, but when you impose guidelines like theirs on writing, you’re strangling the imagination. And that means that you’re limiting the ability of children to imagine. If all books for them were ‘cleansed’ according to these criteria, it would be the equivalent of giving them nothing to eat but white bread.”
“To write according to such guidelines,” this story teller continued, “is to take the life out of what you do. Also the complexity, the ambivalence. And thereby the young reader gets no real sense of the wonders and terrors and unpredictabilities of living. Paradoxically, censors like the council clamor for ‘truth’ but are actually working to flatten children’s reading experiences into the most misleading, simplistic kinds of untruth.”

("Any Writer Who Follows Anyone Else's Guidelines Ought to Be in Advertising" (1977), from Beyond Fact: Nonfiction for Children and Young People, 1982)"

Books by Nat Hentoff

  • Jazz Is
  • 82 ratings
  • August 1st 2004 by Limelight Editions

    (first published 1976)

  • Jazz Country
  • 57 ratings
  • July 1st 1983 by Laurel Leaf

    (first published 1965)

Nat Hentoff
  • Nat Hentoff

  • Date of birth: June 10, 1925
  • Died: January 07, 2017
  • Born: in Boston, Massachusetts.

  • Description: Nathan Irving "Nat" Hentoff was a historian, novelist, music critic, and syndicated columnist. As a civil libertarian and free-speech activist, he has been described by the Cato Institute—where he has been a senior fellow since 2009—as "one of the foremost authorities on the First Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution. He was a staff writer for The New Yorker for over 25 years, and was formerly a columnist for The Village Voice for over 50 years, in addition to Legal Times, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, and The Progressive, among others. Since 2014, he has been a regular contributor to the conservative Christian website WorldNetDaily, often in collaboration with his son Nick Hentoff.

    Hentoff was a Fulbright Fellow at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1950 and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in education in 1972. The American Bar Association bestowed the Silver Gavel Award in 1980 for his columns on law and criminal justice, and five years later his undergraduate alma mater, Northeastern University, awarded him an honorary Doctorate of Law degree. While working at the Village Voice in 1995, the National Press Foundation granted him the W.M. Kiplinger Distinguished Contributions to Journalism Award. He was a 1999 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Commentary, "for his passionate columns championing free expression and individual rights," which was won by Maureen Dowd. In 2004 he became the first non-musician to be named an NEA Jazz Master by the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts.Hentoff lectured at many colleges, universities, law schools, elementary, middle and high schools, and has taught courses in journalism and the U.S. Constitution at Princeton University and New York University. He serves on the Board of Advisors of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (F.I.R.E.) and is on the steering committee of the Reporters' Committee for the Freedom of the Press.