Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

06/05/17

From an Angry Reader:

From: Goofomatic

 Dear Sir,

 You may be a “classicist” and historian but you are clearly not a logician. Your reductive, simplistic polarizing nonsense may appeal to those disaffected and disenchanted by change but to others, like me, it reeks of divisive, defeatist drivel. Globalization is merely the hobgoblin you need in order to justify your rambling lament for “the good old days”. I have read numerous op-ed pieces written by you and they are consistent in their litany on complaints and completely devoid of proposed solutions, or even ideas for improving whatever you’re complaining about.

 What alternative course do you propose? Are you just looking to vent? Your failure to grasp the complexities and impact of technological change, the geo political economic realities of today is staggering.

 Signed,

A thinking person

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Anonymous “Thinking Person,”

Your final grand epithet is your own, but sadly not supported by the content of your letter which reveals little thinking—aside from the fact that anonymity often hides a lack of self-confidence and reveals timidity. For someone who is “thinking,” you sure do not supply any concrete examples, but instead plenty of misinformation. In my piece, I wrote exactly what you wished to read, but apparently missed: globalization is paradoxical in allowing those from the Amazon basin to the Czech countryside to have material opportunities undreamed of in the past while also eroding traditional networks of communities and towns.

How perfectly you conform to the now typical “angry reader” profile (ad hominem, streams of repetitive adjectives (“reductive, simplistic, polarizing, nonsense [do you ever come up for air?]), all without evidence and specificity. I congratulate you that you did not resort to capital letters and obscenity.

I am not disenchanted by change per se, but seek to chronicle its paradoxes and contradictions as globalization makes us all materially wealthier, but also more isolated and often unhappy (Facebook is great in connecting the world, even as it isolates us from neighbors next door). My job as an op-ed writer is to chronicle contemporary phenomena and to make readers question the received wisdom of popular culture, not necessarily to offer wonkish solutions or political programs, although often I do suggest possible remedies for problems of illegal immigration and education, to take two examples.

I have traveled a great deal and read widely on technological change from antiquity (do you know anything about the first globalization during the Hellenistic and Roman eras and their effects on local communities?) to the modern age, and have tried to live a traditional life on a farm in an impoverished area of rural California while working at a cosmopolitan Stanford at the heart of Silicon Valley.

Do you seek to live both sides of the globalist equation, or are you venting because my constructive criticism of a globalized elite comes too close to your home? Certainly, your angry letter would resonate if you had defiantly identified yourself, described your expertise on globalization, and offered reasoned criticism—instead of rather meekly hiding behind a pseudonym and a pompous one at that. Your email ID was “Goofomatic”: the one accurate adjective of your entire incoherent rant.

Signed,

Thinking Person,

Victor Hanson

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

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