Yesterday on Twitter I speculated that Andrew Breitbart’s death would garner a thousand times more attention than the passing of Harvard political scientist James Q. Wilson. I hope I’m proven wrong, however, because Wilson, who was also a conservative, had about a thousand times more impact on American life than did Breitbart. And unlike Breitbart, the vast majority of Wilson’s influence was beneficial. That includes his famous “broken windows” theory of crime prevention, which led to new police procedures that the Clinton administration helped spread nationwide–procedures that have almost certainly been a factor in the steep reduction in crime we’ve experience in the last two decades.
But perhaps Wilson’s biggest impact has been on the minds of the generations of scholars and students with whom he worked over many decades. One of those scholars is Steve Teles, a Johns Hopkins political scientist and editorial advisor to this magazine. Steve has a wonderful remembrance of Wilson up on Ten Miles Square. You should definitely read it.