Somewhat to my surprise, I found Malcolm X to be a man of considerable intellectual powers, certainly no conventional demagogue, dignified, and rather winning in manner. He was a strange being, but no fool or madman. He had then just returned from a pilgrimage to Mecca, capping his formal conversion to the Mohammedan faith.
He rose out of violence and crime in the urban jungles, and he died by violence and crime. Yet the convicted burglar who made himself a minor power in the land did not appear to be a natural fanatic or incendiary.
Given Kirk's own eclectic conservatism, one can understand the appeal parts of Malcolm's message may had to him. At the same time, Kirk had critical distance when it came to Malcolm X's prior activism in the cause of racial separation. Kirk's embrace of the limits of politics and his understanding of America as a land of diverse peoples & ways of life made Kirk skeptical of the idea that races here could ever be separated. Efforts to do so, he wrote, "never could be realized in America."
I should have liked to talk to Malcolm X longer, to ascertain if truly there was forever a great gulf fixed between us. But that unquiet spirit will not be heard again.To be an unquiet spirit in an unquiet age is no vice. The tragedy of Malcolm X's life is that it was cut short, just as he was finding his own authentic voice.