Daniel Patrick Moynihan Mourned
Freedom House mourns the death of its good friend and former trustee, Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
Throughout his long public career, Pat Moynihan embodied the values and principles that have also inspired the work of Freedom House. He understood the essential relationship between the perfection of American democracy and the spread of freedom around the world. As a scholar and writer, he wrote brilliantly about the issues and problems that pose a threat to human liberty: racial inequality, poverty, and the nature of totalitarianism, ethnic hatred, and government secrecy.
As a public official, he served both Republican and Democratic administrations. He was, of course, a committed liberal Democrat. But he believed that in a democracy certain crucial issues must be addressed in the spirit of bipartisanship. The plight of African-Americans was one such issue; the war on the democratic idea waged by the Soviet Union and its allies was another. On both issues, Pat Moynihan spoke out with eloquence, passion, and intellectual integrity.
He was not afraid to challenge orthodoxies and advance new ideas. His intellectual courage earned him the wrath of critics; his treatment within the intellectual community was at times shameful, especially because subsequent events proved the worth of his views.
He was magnificent when defending freedom against its avowed adversaries during his time as ambassador to the United Nations. He spoke at a time when democracy seemed on the defensive and when many were expressing doubts about freedom's relevance for much of the developing world. Pat Moynihan never doubted the superiority of liberal democracy, and the fact that his views seemed out of step did not still his voice. It can be said without exaggeration that his uncompromising advocacy of the idea of liberty helped to inspire the modern-day democracy movement. The remarkable spread of freedom during the past quarter-century is a tribute to his willingness to stand fast when the going was especially rough.
Pat Moynihan was one of a kind, and his intellect and courageous voice will be badly missed by all who care about freedom.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.