After his father was executed in a Soviet prison camp, Jon Basil Utley escaped from Communist Russia with his mother as a small boy in 1939. Some 80 years later, he can look back and say he used those dreadful early memories as motivation for a lifetime of fighting against injustice, tyranny, and war.
The American Conservative honored publisher, friend, and longtime writer at the magazine with its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award at its annual gala in Washington on May 9.
“As the parade of Jon’s friends testifies, Jon is a remarkable human being, a rare individual, a man of integrity, a man of courage, the best example of an American citizen in action,” declared John Henry, chairman of the Committee for the Republic and friend. He introduced Utley Thursday night, and noted how he was able to bring both sides of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, together to oppose U.S. wars of choice over the last several decades.
“No one fights harder than Jon to end war as the signature of America’s intercourse with the world.”
For his part, Utley said his mother, intellectual Freda Utley, had fostered his contrarianism and commitment to peace. He praised TAC for being a bastion for smart, skeptical, non-interventionist conservatism, but lamented that official Washington continues to support the pro-war status quo.
“But America still offers plenty of hope,” he said, “the fact that we are here, the fact that you are here, we all are a challenge the Washington war establishment.”
To honor his story, TAC produced, in conjunction with Workhorse Media, a tribute to Utley, which was debuted at the May 9 event (above).