Virginia conservatives lost one of their intellectual heroes earlier today when Walter Williams passed away at the age of 83.

A professor of economics at George Mason University, Williams was a prolific author of articles, columns, book reviews and scholarly papers. Adopting a low-key, common-sense tone, he relentlessly applied economic logic in defense of free-market principles, against government intrusion into the economy, and against the delusions of do-gooders. Along with Thomas Sowell, another African-American pioneer of contemporary conservatism, Williams paved the way for younger African Americans to embrace conservative and free-market ideas.

Williams showed how government interventions in the economy often have unintended and undesirable consequences. More controversially, he showed how discrimination on the basis of race imposed an economic cost not only on the victims but the discriminators, and he illuminated how segregation in the Jim Crow era was the product of state- and local-government laws, ordinances and regulations. Without government coercion to back them, the rules could not have been enforced. But Williams’ work transcended race. A defender of the U.S. Constitution and individual liberties for all people, he was an inspiration to millions of Americans.


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14 responses to “Walter Williams RIP”

  1. Rebelathrt Avatar

    A truly great American. He will be missed.

  2. John Harvie Avatar
    John Harvie

    How in the world did he end up at GMU?

  3. Stuboy1947 Avatar

    I’m sad. Walter was one of the great thinkers of my time. His voice will be missed.

  4. My jaw is dropping. I’ve emailed with him a few times. Dr. Sowell is older than Dr. Williams was.
    He was one of my heroes. We have lost a pillar, true wise man.

  5. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    A conservative economically and a warrior against the stupid racial indignities of his times. Right on both counts.

  6. The first of the Mighty Conservative Triumverate to go…
    Justice Clarence Thomas
    Dr. Thomas Sowell
    Dr Walter Williams…
    I always loved it when he guest hosted the Rush Show.
    May he Rest in Peace…

  7. JuniusQuercus Avatar

    It’s almost 2000 hours here in the hinterlands of Virginia. My work requires me to subscribe to dozens of news sites throughout Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Virginia. Untold breaking news today regarding something or another about the “covid crap”, but not a peep that I have seen about the death of Mr. Williams. I will miss reading his articles.

  8. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead V

    I never met Mr. Williams. But I did write him about one of his columns back in 2016. He responded and I saved it. The best line from Walter Williams response?

    “The victors of wars write its history but it’s up to the people to overcome.”

  9. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    A great and courageous man.

  10. Jim, I agree with most of what you wrote about the notable Walter Williams and the even greater (in my opinion) Thomas Sowell. My qualification is that Williams sometimes let his ideology run roughshod over his reason. For example, he continued to profess that “greed is good”—and argued that Adam Smith endorsed this view! If he wants to claim that greed is good, that is his business to make the case. But it is flat out wrong to claim that Smith supported this view, when he argued forcefully against it.

    Williams did not want to learn on this issue, did not want his ideology on this point to be subject to critical inquiry (I know, from having written him). We all have blind spots, and this was one of his. Thanks for writing up your eulogy, Jim, as that is the main message.

    1. So what? Rather petty, and quite inappropriate for this occasion (in my opinion).

  11. I don’t have heroes, but if I did…

    RIP to an incredibly intelligent and successful man who also happened to be a great guy.

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