ON-Lion Letter
In March, Hilton Kramer died.  Kramer was an editor of The New Criterion magazine, which he founded in 1982 after leaving The New York Times, for which he had been its chief arts critic.  The New Criterion has long been substantially supported by Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.  Its May 2012 issue will be devoted to his legacy.

"The hallmarks of Kramer's criticism were clarity of expression, aesthetic discrimination and forthright independence," according to an article about him by current New Criterion editor and publisher Roger Kimball in The Wall Street Journal.  "Forthrightness has never been a popular commodity; in an age of political correctness, it is especially unfashionable.  Being unfashionable never troubled Kramer.  He was fond of quoting William Dean Howells's observation that the problem for a critic was not making enemies, but keeping them.

"It did not please Hilton Kramer to make enemies.  But he knew that the job of a cultural critic was to tell the truth and that the truth is often unpalatable," continues Kimball, who is also president and publisher of Encounter Books, an activity of Encounter for Culture and Education, Inc., which is also substantially supported by Bradley.

"Hilton Kramer was celebrated, and in many quarters feared, as a polemicist," Kimball concludes.  "But his most lasting legacy, I believe, is something more positive.  He was most ferocious not in his criticism but in his defense of democratic bourgeois culture and the precious legacy of individual liberty it generated and sustained."
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