From an Angry Reader:
Mr. Hansen –
In this commentary, you appear to be engaging in sophistry. In other words, you appear to be decisively imparting falsehoods. First you fabricate a definition of the “American elite” comprised exclusively of progressives. Then you fabricate a reality where the mainstream press disseminates lies, where college campuses lack diversity and muzzle free speech and where progressives have fallen down in addressing the problems of the inner cities. Finally you fabricate an argument that the so-called elite have “titles, brands and buzz” but no “demonstrable knowledge or proven character”. This is a perfect example of deflection and psychological projection. You have, wittingly or not, described your populist hero Donald Trump, a man with “brands and buzz”, who disseminates lies, impugns minorities, muzzles the press, cares little about the inner cities and clearly lacks knowledge or character.
– Allan Cooper
Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:
Dear Angry Reader Allan Cooper
One of the themes of the Angry Reader column is the predictable use by Leftists such as yourself of personal invective (“sophistry”, “falsehoods”, “fabricate”, etc.) along with intellectual laziness.
Take your allegation that I wrote that elites are “comprised exclusively of progressives”.
How does that assertion square with my allusion in the column on elites to “many in the Republican Party as well” or to the “Bush or Clinton families”. Are the Bushes and the Republican Party progressives?
So it is hard to take you seriously when the first allegation you make is demonstrably false.
And it sadly it is all downhill from there:
1) Are you arguing for intellectual diversity on campus? I think the recent Middlebury and Berkeley violence highlights my suggestion that there is little intellectual tolerance on campus.
2) Are you suggesting that the media is not progressive? JournoList, Wikileaks, and the epidemic of fake news from Rathergate and Brian Williams to the MLK bust allegation or Trump’s supposed romps in a Moscow hotel room substantiate the unreliability of the press, which by all polls and its own admission is overwhelming liberal.
3) You doubt the nature of life in the inner city or its governance? The inner cities are in crisis; most have had Democratic mayors and councils for the last thirty years and more; again are you contending that fact?
Donald Trump is not “my populist hero”; can you find any indication that I wrote that?
More to the point: what Trump says and what he actually does are two different things. I will find him guilty of “muzzling the press” when his Justice Department hounds journalists of the Associated Press or taps the communications of a reporter in the fashion of Obama’s treatment of James Rosen, or expands the reach of the NSA and the dissemination of its intelligence or depends on fawning press coverage to advance his agenda in the fashion of the “god”, “smartest president ever” and leg-tingling Barack Obama.
There are various ways of defining knowledge and character.
Trump is, of course, a flawed individual like many of us; but his failings are transparent, quite unlike those of Barack Obama, to take one example (Hillary Clinton is another).
With Trump, what you see is what you get. With Obama and his subordinates we were given constant utopian platitudes about hope and change, but experienced quite different dangerous deeds: expansions of NSA electronic surveillance, lying under oath by Eric Holder and James Clapper, the warping of the IRS, scandals in the VA, GSA, Secret Service, EPA, etc., nullifications of federal law by executive order non-enforcement, the jailing of a video maker on the false narrative of culpability for Benghazi (about which lies were promulgated by Susan Rice), the “echo chamber” manipulation of the “know nothing” press, assassinations abroad of US citizens, bombing Libya without congressional consent, the likely illegal monitoring and leaking of communications of the Trump campaign (as reported by the NY Times, Washington Post, and BBC), constant mellifluous untruth (you can keep your doctor and health plan, the president will not by fiat grant amnesties, the mythologies of the Cairo Speech), and often bizarre references to foreign leaders (from the open mic promise to be more flexible with Putin but only after the election to the gratuitous insults of Netanyahu [“coward”, “chickenshit”]). I learned in farming early on that the loud and uncouth are easier to deal with than the glib and shifty-eyed; the former may assault you senses, but the latter your person and livelihood.
So I think you need to redefine the boundaries of wisdom; they are not just calibrated by “57 states”- and “corps-men”-like Columbia and Harvard degrees.
Surviving the Manhattan real estate cauldron may take more savvy and cunning than the sorts of identity-politics navigation in colleges and liberal circles as outlined in Dreams From My Father. I have spent most of my adult life in two pursuits: academia, often in the circle of those with impressive graduate degrees, and farming with those sometimes without high school diplomas.
I saw little difference among the two groups in terms of ethics, saw the less articulate often more direct and transparent, and could never quite tell which group was the smarter, although what I heard in the faculty lounge and academic senate was a few rings down on the intelligence scale from what I heard and saw when talking to well drillers, pump installers, and tractor mechanics.
Victor Davis HansOn (Swedish not Danish)