An Isolationist Isolated?
The Cold War years were not good to Lawrence Dennis. The pressure placed on the United States as a direct result of the competition with the then Soviet Union pushed this nation toward a retreat from the more egregious aspects of Jim Crow—a system that had helped to push Dennis into a “racial closet” in the first place. However, by then his “white” identity had been too deeply encrusted for him to retreat from it and take advantage of the newly emerging racial enlightenment. Moreover, his brand of politics, which was deeply marked by an old-fashioned “isolationism,” that harked back to George Washington's warnings about excessive entanglements by the new nation, was not congenial to the forward-leaning engagement that the Cold War seemed to require. Effectively, Dennis, a leading isolationist was himself isolated, bereft of the balm of close relatives ever since he had decided to enclose himself in a “racial closet.” Politically, he still retained contact with an impressive list of opinion-molders, but many of them were not enthusiastic about unveiling their relationship publicly, leaving him cosseted in a “closet” of another sort.
Dennis during this period was a family man with two young daughters, a wife—and an uncertain income. Fortunately, he had friends of means, who could, for example, augment his daughters' stamp collection,1 though the single-minded Dennis who even abjured his daughters' penchant for skiing2 still had to find funding for this increasingly expensive sport. Dennis did enjoy sharing time with his comrades, among which was the similarly controversial writer, Harry Elmer Barnes, who spent more than one “delightful weekend” with Dennis and his spouse. “It was grand in every way,” he effused, “social, intellectual, gastronomic and scenic.”3 Barnes and Dennis were “very close friends,” according to the latter, at the time of the former's death. “He was like a father to me” and “his death was a great bereavement to me,”4 one more setback in Den-