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R.I.P. Walter

By Patrick Van Roy On December 3rd, 2020

Walter Williams loved teaching. Unlike too many other teachers today, he made it a point never to impose his opinions on his students. Those who read his syndicated newspaper columns know that he expressed his opinions boldly and unequivocally there. But not in the classroom.

Walter once said he hoped that, on the day he died, he would have taught a class that day. And that is just the way it was, when he died on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. 

As an economist, Walter Williams never got the credit he deserved. His book “Race and Economics” is a must-read introduction to the subject. Amazon has it ranked 5th in sales among civil rights books, 9 years after it was published.

Another book of his, on the effects of economics under the white supremacist apartheid regime in South Africa, was titled “South Africa’s War Against Capitalism.” He went to South Africa to study the situation directly. Many of the things he brought out have implications for racial discrimination in other places around the world.

18 Responses to “R.I.P. Walter”

  1. How do you ‘impose your opinions’ on anyone, let alone students, other than ‘expressing them boldly and unequivocally?’

  2. Paul, you could, for example, mark students’ papers according to the political or social views expressed therein, or insist on certain perspectives. Or promote certain books in class of a certain political view while ignoring others because of the opinions in them.

    I’d say very many teachers at all levels do this.

  3. That absolutely happens.

    In high schools and universities.

  4. I’d say very many teachers at all levels do this.

    Perhaps, although we’re supposed to believe that ‘Cultural Marxism’ is on the march through academia while right wing libertarian conservative academics like Williams didn’t do what’s claimed above?

  5. I think that what Noel mentions happens quite lot, to a greater or lesser extent. The best teachers won’t do this, and you’ll have no idea what their actual perspective is.

    I remember a guy in university — a rare centre-right kind of guy — confiding in me that he worried a particular lecturer who he knew well was a socialist would mark him down for making an argument in an essay he knew she’d dislike. I think she was professional and this wouldn’t have happened but students should never feel that way. If they do, something has gone wrong.

    At MA level, there was a particular economics professor who I sparred with on and off. She had a tendency to be quite annoyed by my mild mannered interventions in class and would come back at me in quite an aggressive way, which really took me aback at first. I too worried she’d give me a rubbish mark, but this also turned out to be unfounded.

  6. Again, the point isn’t whether it happens or not the point is that according to the bio above we’re supposed to believe Williams didn’t engage in it.

    My undergrad was Law & Government LLB and one of the politics lecturers we had was a guy called Paul Dixon who was an English guy and came across as the quintessential tolerant, liberal, (not in the political US sense), Englishman. I remember being taken aback the first time I called to his office and seeing framed photos of the Queen Mother and Winston Churchill on the wall.

    There was another lecturer from Dublin, whose name I won’t mention, who took us for Constitutional Law and who, right in front of me, amended a piece of coursework I gave to him with an extra ten marks just because I spoke to him in Irish.

  7. There was another lecturer from Dublin, whose name I won’t mention, who took us for Constitutional Law and who, right in front of me, amended a piece of coursework I gave to him with an extra ten marks just because I spoke to him in Irish.

    What were his initials? 🙂

  8. Dr C.W.

  9. Damn. It’s not ringing a bell. He sounds like a ticket.

  10. He was a bloody great fella.

  11. Paul — I was once taught by Laurence Marley, I believe he’s from West Belfast. A leading expert on Michael Davitt. Ever heard of him?

  12. The only Laurence Marley I’m familiar with Petr was the one from North Belfast who was murdered by the UVF in 1987 and at whose funeral the RUC broke my shoulder bone.

  13. My accountancy teacher was the great GAA commentator Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh. Some of his commenting gems are:

    (during a hurling match)
    “Seán Óg Ó hAilpín now with the ball: his father’s from Fermanagh, his mother’s from Fiji. Neither a hurling stronghold.”

    “I saw a few Sligo people at Mass in Gardiner Street this morning and the omens seem to be good for them. The priest was wearing the same colours as the Sligo jersey! 40 yards out on the Hogan Stand side of the field, Ciarán Whelan goes on a rampage… it’s a goal! So much for religion.”

    “1-5 to 0-8… well, from Lapland to the Antarctic, that’s level scores in any man’s language.”

    He once related how he was in NY during some important GAA season and was desperate for his favourite paper back home. He asked the man at a news stall in Times Square “I suppose ye wouldn’t have The Kerryman, would ye”? The man, an Egyptian, replied: “Would you like the North Kerry or the South Kerry edition?”

    Once in the middle of a Senior Football Final he started talking about the Annals of the Four Masters, in both Irish and English.

  14. A legend.

  15. My accountancy teacher was the great GAA commentator Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh

    That’s amazing. A legend indeed.

  16. Paul,

    This is the Laurence Marley I’m talking about:

    https://www.nuigalway.ie/our-research/people/history-and-philosophy/laurencemarley/

    A real salt of the earth working class guy, great fun, and an excellent historian.

  17. Unfamiliar with him, Petr.

  18. “Prior to capitalism, the way people amassed great wealth was by looting, plundering and enslaving their fellow man. Capitalism made it possible to become wealthy by serving your fellow man.”

    — Walter Williams

    The world has lost a great economist, a great teacher and a great man of liberty. Rest in Peace Walter WIlliams.