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In Memoriam Sam Francis (April 29, 1947—February 15, 2005)
The sudden death on Tuesday night of Sam Francis, whom we had believed was recovering from aneurysm-related heart surgery, is a sad moment particularly for us.
Sam played a quiet but effective role in putting together the principals of VDARE.COM and the Center For American Unity. Later, we were happy to reciprocate by giving his syndicated column a web home when it was dropped without explanation by TownHall.com – part of the Beltway Right's steady migration towards politically correct respectability.
Sam came from a long tradition of scholarly southerners that is now often forgotten. His fate cruelly paralleled that of the conservative movement to which he gave his life: long years of obscure labor, bravely borne, followed by dispossession at the moment of victory.
By the time the Republican Party for which he had worked so long had won Congress and the White House, he was effectively in exile, utterly alienated from the peculiar invade-the-world invite-the-world heresy that had suddenly and unexpectedly seized control of it. Sam's firing from the Washington Times in 1995 was, in retrospect, a harbinger of this coup. As in the Trent Lott lynching, it was to be especially hard on southerners, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact they provided the GOP with the votes for victory.
Sam's great value to VDARE.COM was his unflinching disregard of contemporary taboos. He was always prepared to say the unsayable.
With the end of the Cold War, he emerged as a type of white nationalist, defending the interests of the community upon which the historic United States was, as a matter of fact, built. This position, of course, is as legitimate as Black nationalism, Hispanic nationalism, or Zionism. It is, indeed, the inevitable result of multiculturalism that is being imported through public policy.
Although VDARE.COM is not a white nationalist site, we regarded him as an important part of the VDARE.COM coalition. And we will miss him very badly.
The Establishment, left and right, wasn't ready to listen to Sam. The logic of their own policies, however, means that eventually they will be forced to.
Like many older bachelors, Sam Francis became set in his ways. He could be gruff and even irascible. I suspect he was lonely, although no-one could have been surrounded by more loyal and devoted friends in his final days.
I have always been puzzled at the visceral animosity this reclusive and retiring figure provoked from the likes of John J. Miller and David Brock. Both launched campaigns to drive him out of public life. But for the internet, they might have succeeded. Sam was more hurt by these campaigns than he should have been—heartrendingly, you could always see in him the shy and sensitive little boy. I believe, however, that there will be a reckoning for these campaigns—as in the parallel case of Sam's friend Pat Buchanan—in the future.
Also through the miracle of the internet, word of Sam's passing has already spread around the world. A reader from Spain writes:
I have just noticed the news of Sam Francis's death. I have only been a few months reading Vdare.com but I'm going to miss his columns very much.
His heart has stopped and the mine has filled with sorrow. Regards for all, [NAME WITHHELD]
An America reader writes:
I am so shocked and saddened to learn of Sam Francis's death. His was a mind nonpareil and his absence will be a setback for our movement. I must confess that when calling up VDARE.COM I first would look for the most recent Sam Francis article and then, time permitting, would venture through VDARE.COM's other offerings.
From his attendance at the American Renaissance conferences, I recall his quiet yet precise and cutting wit, his boyish face and encyclopedic mind. The room would hush when he spoke, none wanting to miss a syllable of his keen wisdom. If I'd only known his time was so limited I would have better used my opportunities to know and learn from him. This is a sad day for all of us. [NAME WITH HELD]
I don't know these people, and I don't think Sam did.
But, although he always expressed to me an unwavering religious skepticism (Chronicles' Tom Fleming, linked above, says he has reason to believe Sam changed in his last hours), it is because of readers like these that Sam Francis might say, like the Roman, non omnis moriar—I shall not all die.
We hope to expand our Sam Francis page into a permanent repository for his work.