The passing of Walter Edward Williams should not go unnoticed by newspapers or any other American medium. It is beyond reprehensible that the mainstream network television, for the most part, has ignored the death of this great American on the evening news.

Frankly, I thought my news network of choice would lead with Mr. Williams' passing today. It didn't. In fact, I heard the sad news this morning at work while listening to the Rick and Bubba Radio Show (no kidding) online from WCSN 105.7 FM in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Mr. Williams, Professor Williams, if you please, taught for many years at George Mason University. He taught his final economics class at George Mason on Monday evening, Nov. 30. He died the next morning on Dec. 1, 2020.

To say he will be missed, is akin to saying freedom will be missed. He was that good.

Professor Williams was a true legend among U.S. newspaper columnists. I started reading his Sunday columns in The Cincinnati Enquirer in the 1970s or early 1980s (when the Enquirer actually was a good newspaper). My dad "suggested" that I read Walter Williams when I was in high school. My dad's "suggestions" were often more than just suggestions.

Thus, I began a decades-long habit of reading – and enjoying – Walter Williams' words of wisdom.

Mr. Williams was the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University, as well as a syndicated columnist in numerous newspapers across the country.

As a child, Mr. Williams grew up in the housing projects in Philadelphia, living with his mother and a sister. His father took a leave of absence from his parental responsibilities.

In his youth, Mr. Williams drove a cab for the Yellow Cab Company. After a brief stint in the U.S. Army, he earned a bachelor's degree in economics in 1965 from California State College at Los Angeles and his master's degree (1967) and his Ph.D. (1972) in economics from UCLA, where he met a young professor named Thomas Sowell – another Hall of Fame newspaper columnist in my opinion.

Mr. Williams returned to Philadelphia as an economics professor at Temple University. In 1980, he joined the faculty at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

Mr. Williams was a staunch supporter of capitalism and free-market economics. He opposed all socialist systems of government.

Earlier this year, during the now proved to be trumped-up impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, Mr. Williams wrote a column headlined "The United States isn’t a democracy, thank goodness."

His words were then – and are now – clear as crystal.

"We’ll hear a lot of talk about our rules for governing," Mr. Williams wrote in February. "One frequent claim is that our nation is a democracy. If we’ve become a democracy, it would represent a deep betrayal of our founders, who saw democracy as another form of tyranny.

"In fact, the word 'democracy' appears nowhere in our nation’s two most fundamental documents, the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. The founders laid the ground rules for a republic as written in the Constitution’s Article IV, Section 4, which guarantees to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.

"John Adams captured the essence of the difference between a democracy and republic when he said, 'You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe.' Contrast the framers' vision of a republic with that of a democracy. In a democracy, the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. As in a monarchy, the law is whatever the government determines it to be. Laws do not represent reason. They represent power. The restraint is upon the individual instead of the government. Unlike that envisioned under a republican form of government, rights are seen as privileges and permissions that are granted by government and can be rescinded by government."

That last sentence is worth repeating in today's political environment: "Rights are seen as privileges and permissions that are granted by government and can be rescinded by government." Bull dung.

As Mr. Williams said, our great founding fathers knew better. Majority rule – or mob rule – does nothing to ensure and protect our rights. To the contrary, it erases our constitutional rights, by hook or by crook.

Years ago, Mr. Williams and I corresponded a time or two via the USPS. He had written a column that I'd saved. In it, he very succinctly explained why we are a republic and not a democracy. In a follow-up letter to me, he said to imagine that you were charged with a crime and had to face a jury of your peers. In a true democracy, a majority (mob) of jurors could quickly convict you. In a true republic, one individual juror could disagree and you would be free. Only in a republic can we have a hung jury with just one dissenter.

In a tribute today by The Orange County (Calif.) Register, the newspaper writes: "'Overregulation by the government, including laws like occupational and business licensing, zoning regulations and the minimum wage,' Mr. Williams argued, 'systematically discriminate against the employment and advancement of people who are outsiders, latecomers and poor in resources.'

"While it is fashionable among younger generations to condemn capitalism, Mr. Williams understood that capitalism is the greatest means for liberating people from poverty known to man. Though there will only be one Walter E. Williams, his ideas must endure forever."

Let us hope and pray that they do.

Requiescat in pace, Professor Williams. You will always be a great American. Godspeed.

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press.