Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

From An Angry Reader:

Angry Reader Southern Poverty Law Center:

 

Cf: (https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2017/08/22/american-freedom-alliance-event-blames-immigrants-california’s-destruction)

 

“They keynote speaker for the event was Victor Davis Hanson, a Hoover Institute (sic) fellow and author of Mexifornia, a book that romanticizes the California of old, when whites were a large majority of the state’s population. Davis Hanson (sic) talked about how in parts of California, you can go 10 miles in another direction and it ‘looks like you’re in a different country.’ Hanson also attacked California’s Democrats, saying:

 

We don’t want assimilation so we’re going to give you as much amnesty, sanctuary states, sanctuary cities, we’ll do whatever we can so you can remain tribal in your outlook. Your tribal racial and ethnic identity is essential, not irrelevant to your character.

 

Hanson also expounded upon the reconquista conspiracy theory promoted by anti-immigrant activists. It stems from the ‘Plan Espiritual de Aztlan,’ a document produced by MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan) in the 1960s calling for Chicanos to reclaim land. It is not endorsed by any mainstream groups, but for nativists it serves as the genesis of a conspiracy theory claiming that Latinos want to take back American land for themselves.

Davis Hanson ended by saying, “The state is regressing into a Third-World country.” He also attacked undocumented immigrants, essentially claiming they are incapable of being law-abiding residents, stating, ‘When I came to the States, the first thing I did was break the law, so why would I follow the rules out of necessity now?’”

________________________

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Southern Poverty Law Center,

 

A few preliminaries: Mexifornia, written nearly 15 years ago, was not a romance about “white” California, but a warning that if assimilation, intermarriage, and melting-pot integration continued to be caricatured and eroded, and if massive immigration continued to be illegal, non-diverse, and not based on ethnically blind meritocratic criteria, then one day California would be faced with ethnic polarization, given its various ethnic groups, large numbers of struggling newcomers without legality, English, or high school diplomas, and a state unable to meet its commitments to ensure first-rate public education, infrastructure, transportation, and safety for all its residents. I feel the book was prescient; if you disagree, find an argument instead of using the buzz word “white.”

 

You state that MEChA advocated “reclaiming” land for “Chicanos,” but then incoherently state that such a supposition is a “conspiracy theory claiming that Latinos want to take back American land for themselves.” Is it a fact or a “claim,” both or neither? And what are “mainstream groups,” given that MEChA for decades has had a sizable presence on most California and southwestern campuses and claims a number of prominent alumni.

 

When you write “essentially claiming” rather than quoting what I actually wrote in full, we know that “essentially” is a catalyst for more fiction to follow.

 

In general, I rarely have seen a puerile attack like this in which everything you have alleged is demonstrably false. Since there was an apparent video of my 30-minute speech on “Two Californias” (presented at a Los Angeles symposia on the crisis of California) about the inordinate wealth of the Pacific Coastal strip from La Jolla to Berkeley and the poverty of the state’s interior, you obviously choose not to quote from it accurately if much at all.

 

And it is easy to see why, since my argument did not serve your circular purposes of fabricating “hate” in turn to whip up hysterias in turn to raise money in turn to justify your comfortable existence in turn to fabricate more “hate.” In contrast, you found that reporting the truth—the lecture offered statistics on education, energy, health care, infrastructure, and taxes in suggesting that Californians are not receiving value for the inordinate taxes and regulations they endure, largely because of incompetent, one-party governance—would have been of utterly no value to your careerist and financial aims.

 

The lecture was not even on illegal immigration per se, but on the tripartite role of (a) Silicon Valley’s and coastal California’s vast wealth and (in the case of multibillion-dollar tech companies) corporate exemptions from traditional antitrust scrutiny, (b) the aggregate flight of nearly 4 million middle class Californians to no-tax or low-tax states, and (c) the aggregate effects of massive illegal immigration in which the traditional allegiance to melting pot assimilation, integration, and intermarriage has waned due to politics, sheer numbers, and illegality.

 

Let me detail your fabrications in the order you made them:

 

1) One truly can go 10 miles in one direction in California and see the radical change from affluence to dire poverty. And that abyss is, as I noted, because that 1/3 of all welfare recipients in the nation live in California, where 1/5 of the population lives below the poverty line, and a fourth of the residents were not born in the United States and in many cases do not have English facility or high school diplomas, critical in a competitive market economy.

 

I suggest the SPLC staff drive just 3 miles from Woodside or Atherton to Redwood City or East Palo Alto and see whether my assertion is flawed. The proposition rests, as I noted and you omitted, on the fact that California is both the wealthiest of states by a variety of measurements and also by some data the poorest. Or as I colloquially put it, California is a sort of weld of Massachusetts and Mississippi under single state governance.

 

I am writing this reply on an avenue in which there are numerous houses with inoperative trailers, shacks, and near lean-tos arranged around a single-family dwelling, compounds in which the poor live without proper zoning, in structures that do not meet building codes, and under conditions that would be empirically described as Third World.

 

Less than 4 miles away there are also 10,000 square-foot gated mansions. That dichotomy illustrates California culture, demography, and governance, in the medieval sense of two classes rather than the past three.

 

The contrast certainly does look like two different countries: again, in the sense that in the gated mansions English is spoken, there are all the accouterments of upward mobility, and gates keep others out; in the multifamily/trailer residences, Spanish only is spoken, residents are often here illegally, and poverty is endemic. The contrast reflects a vanishing middle class and a state politics designed to reward the connected hyper-wealthy and subsidize the poor and to ignore those in-between—which is why the latter may have fled in droves.

 

  1. Your next assertion is a flat-out untruth: “Hanson also attacked California’s Democrats, saying: We don’t want assimilation so we’re going to give you as much amnesty, sanctuary states, sanctuary cities, we’ll do whatever we can so you can remain tribal in your outlook. Your tribal racial and ethnic identity is essential, not irrelevant to your character.”

 

I did not say what you are alleging, but made it very clear that the quote was a reflection of the mentality of the Democratic elite and the La Raza activist leadership. A simpleton in journalism can fathom that the collective “we” is not the person “I, Victor Hanson” but refers to progressive groups, as I carefully noted, who are not eager to see assimilation, integration, and intermarriage proceed in rapid fashion. Such a development might result in a fully integrated immigrant society (in the fashion of the 19th-century and early 20th-century trajectory of Italian-Americans), one that would be less helpful to Democratic tribal politics. Even with the quote out of context anyone can see through your childish effort to suggest the quote reflects my own sentiments rather than my views of the operating principles of progressive identity politics activists.

 

  1. You allege: “Hanson also expounded upon the reconquistaconspiracy theory promoted by anti-immigrant activists. It stems from the “Plan Espiritual de Aztlan,” a document produced by MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan) in the 1960s calling for Chicanos to reclaim land. It is not endorsed by any mainstream groups, but for nativists it serves as the genesis of a conspiracy theory claiming that Latinos want to take back American land for themselves.”

 

In fact, I did not discuss in detail Mexican nationals or Mexican-Americans seeking to “take back” land, nor did I even go into detail about the racist heritage of MEChA, which is becoming an embarrassment only because its racist sloganeering (e.g., “a bronze state for a bronze people” “everything for the race, nothing for the others”) was so egregious that it has been airbrushed off MEChA sites. What I did say was that La Raza was and is a racialist term (“the Race” [sc. Latin radix] and deliberately employed to resonate racial chauvinism—illustrative of an unfortunate effort to divide and polarize groups.

 

I added and you omitted that the 1960s rebirth of the term in popular usage was similar to Franco’s and Mussolini’s political use of Raza/Razza (Franco wrote a novel Raza), as a way of copy-catting Hitler’s racist use of the German Volk to denote race as the key criterion of citizenship and definition of one’s “essence.” Apparently, the National Council of La Raza (a key element of the Democratic Party coalition) was recently embarrassed into agreement. After the election of Donald Trump, it suddenly has changed its name to UnidosUS from the former “the race”, and that is a laudable improvement. (Note what Cesar Chavez once said about the La Raza movement: “Today it’s anti-gringo, tomorrow it will be anti-Negro. We had a stupid guy who just wanted to play politics with the union, and he began to whip up La Raza against the white volunteers, and even had some of the farm workers and the pickets and the organizers hung up on la raza.”)

 

What do you mean when you write “nativist”? Someone who objects to racist terminology, and supports melting-pot integration and assimilation—in contrast to ethnic bigots like those in MEChA and La Raza groups who insist that their race defines their personas to the exclusion of others? What an Orwellian mindset, in which integration is defined as nativism.

 

You end your slander by more untruths: “Davis Hanson ended by saying, ‘The state is regressing into a Third-World country.’ He also attacked undocumented immigrants, essentially claiming they are incapable of being law-abiding residents, stating, ‘When I came to the States, the first thing I did was break the law, so why would I follow the rules out of necessity now?’”

 

Would you quote from the transcript of the speech? If you would, you will see that I ended with a call for unity, adding that there had to be more integration between poor and rich, and the restoration of a middle class, given that the state cannot do well when there is such an abyss between classes and a shortage of revenue to address long neglected infrastructure.

 

I did not attack undocumented immigrants, but said that the restoration of law (such as the end of illegal sanctuary cities and the enforcement of existing immigration statutes) is essential, yet would be difficult when millions of immigrants have not just entered the country illegally, but have done so as their first choice when arriving at a new homeland—a decision that the host de facto unfortunately overlooks or perhaps even rewards. When one breaks the laws without consequences, it insidiously erodes all laws and chaos is the inevitable result.

 

The Southern Poverty Law Center has been in the news recently as a recipient of millions of dollars of grants from large corporations and movie stars, so I am not denying that fictions like the present one are effective in more or less leveraging money through hysteria. Yet your methods are not justified by your ends; the former are reprehensible and the latter self-centered. A growing number of Americans are learning about your group and discovering that when it cannot uncover hate, it invents it—and finds the ensuing smears and slanders quite profitable, resulting ironically in short-term lucre, but in the long-term continued diminution of your reputation. For a fair account of the meeting and speech, see http://citizensjournal.us/afa-focuses-decline-ca/

 

Davis 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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