William F. Buckley v. Norman Mailer


From the Letters page of the November 11, 1965 Village Voice

Letter from William Buckley

Dear Sir,

What the hell, let’s keep the record straight, even though it is unlikely that logicians will turn to Norman Mailer for examples of syllogistic reasoning.

Me: “Will you, John Lindsay, criticize Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. for what he is, a scoundrel and a rogue?”

John Lindsay:
“It is hardly for me to criticize Adam Clayton Powell Jr., since he’s supporting Abe Beame.”

Me in Queens: “John Lindsay has steadfastly refused to identify Adam Clayton Powell Jr. for what he is, a rogue and scoundrel.”

Norman Mailer in your pages:

“Buckley accuses Lindsay of being in league with Adam Clayton Powell in a debate, nowhere else, and Lindsay answers, Why no, Mr. Powell has given his support to Mr. Beame, and Buckley is silent on that…a week later he is making accusations and they are cheering his words in Queens.”

The enthymeme will not be visible to you Mr. Mailer, but those of your readers who also read the National Review and are therefore trained in rigorous thought will have no trouble with it.

Answer by Norman Mailer

Dear Bill,

Be a swell. Don’t sue.