Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

 03/10/17

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.

Sincerely,

Victor Davis HansOn (Swedish not Danish)

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About victorhanson

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. He recently published an historical novel The End of Sparta (2012), a realistic retelling of Epaminondas invasion and liberation of Spartan-control Messenia. In The Father of Us All (2011), he collected earlier essays on warfare ancient and modern. His upcoming history The Savior Generals(2013) analyzes how five generals in the history of the West changed the course of battles against all odds. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson, who was the fifth successive generation to live in the same house on his family’s farm, was a full-time orchard and vineyard grower from 1980-1984, before joining the nearby CSU Fresno campus in 1984 to initiate a classical languages program. In 1991, he was awarded an American Philological Association Excellence in Teaching Award, which is given yearly to the country’s top undergraduate teachers of Greek and Latin. Hanson has been a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California (1992-93), a visiting professor of classics at Stanford University (1991-92), a recipient of the Eric Breindel Award for opinion journalism (2002), an Alexander Onassis Fellow (2001), and was named alumnus of the year of the University of California, Santa Cruz (2002). He was also the visiting Shifrin Professor of Military History at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland (2002-3). He received the Manhattan Institute’s Wriston Lectureship in 2004, and the 2006 Nimitz Lectureship in Military History at UC Berkeley in 2006. Hanson is the author of hundreds of articles, book reviews, scholarly papers, and newspaper editorials on matters ranging from ancient Greek, agrarian and military history to foreign affairs, domestic politics, and contemporary culture. He has written or edited 17 books, including Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece (1983; paperback ed. University of California Press, 1998); The Western Way of War (Alfred Knopf, 1989; 2d paperback ed. University of California Press, 2000); Hoplites: The Ancient Greek Battle Experience (Routledge, 1991; paperback., 1992); The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization(Free Press, 1995; 2nd paperback ed., University of California Press, 2000);Fields without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Idea (Free Press, 1996; paperback, Touchstone, 1997; The Bay Area Book reviewers Non-fiction winner for 1996); The Land Was Everything: Letters from an American Farmer (Free Press, 2000; a Los Angeles Times Notable book of the year); The Wars of the Ancient Greeks (Cassell, 1999; paperback, 2001); The Soul of Battle (Free Press, 1999, paperback, Anchor/Vintage, 2000); Carnage and Culture (Doubleday, 2001; Anchor/Vintage, 2002; a New York Times bestseller); An Autumn of War (Anchor/Vintage, 2002); Mexifornia: A State of Becoming (Encounter, 2003),Ripples of Battle (Doubleday, 2003), and Between War and Peace (Random House, 2004). A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War, was published by Random House in October 2005. It was named one of the New York Times Notable 100 Books of 2006. Hanson coauthored, with John Heath, Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (Free Press, 1998; paperback, Encounter Press, 2000); with Bruce Thornton and John Heath, Bonfire of the Humanities (ISI Books, 2001); and with Heather MacDonald, and Steven Malanga, The Immigration Solution: A Better Plan Than Today’s (Ivan Dee 2007). He edited a collection of essays on ancient warfare, Makers of Ancient Strategy (Princeton University Press, 2010). Hanson has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, New York Post, National Review, Washington Times, Commentary, The Washington Post, Claremont Review of Books, American Heritage, New Criterion, Policy Review, Wilson Quarterly, Weekly Standard, Daily Telegraph, and has been interviewed often on National Public Radio, PBS Newshour, Fox News, CNN, and C-Span’s Book TV and In-Depth. He serves on the editorial board of the Military History Quarterly, and City Journal. Since 2001, Hanson has written a weekly column for National Review Online, and in 2004, began his weekly syndicated column for Tribune Media Services. In 2006, he also began thrice-weekly blog for Pajamas Media, Works and Days. Hanson was educated at the University of California, Santa Cruz (BA, Classics, 1975, ‘highest honors’ Classics, ‘college honors’, Cowell College), the American School of Classical Studies, Athens (regular member, 1978-79) and received his Ph.D. in Classics from Stanford University in 1980. He divides his time between his forty-acre tree and vine farm near Selma, California, where he was born in 1953, and the Stanford campus.

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