In the shaping of his perspective as a conservative political commentator, Stanley Kurtz credits his Jewish upbringing and studies of Jewish history and the Tanakh in college. Kurtz engaged historical sources directly as he researched the controversial book he published this fall, “Radical-In-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism” (Threshold Editions), which spent a week at No. 33 on The New York Times extended bestseller list.
“I’m non-practicing, but of course I’m proud of my Jewish upbringing and heritage,” wrote in an e-mail interview. “Judaism interests you in history. When I was in college, I took a number of courses on Jewish history and the Bible. I discovered there that you could write a surprisingly sophisticated paper by choosing a very small passage from the Bible, and then reading what ten Biblical commentaries had to say about it. By comparing, and contrasting, you could reach a semi-scholarly level, even as an undergraduate. My teachers loved it, and I was hooked.”
Kurtz completed a doctorate in the anthropology of religion at Harvard University, following undergraduate studies at Haverford College. Now he’s a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a think tank in Washington D.C., which also is home to Catholic theologian George Weigel and other conservative writers as well as former elected officials and political appointees.
“As political correctness took over the American academy, I rebelled and became a critic of the new wave,” Kurtz told MitzVote. “I was inspired in that by Allan Bloom’s book, ‘The Closing of the American Mind.’ That led me to a career as a journalist and commentator. When I began to research my book on Obama, I used my scholarly techniques.”