Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

All Fall Down

by Victor Davis Hanson

PJ Media

The temple of postmodern liberalism was rocked these last few weeks, as a number of supporting columns and buttresses simply crashed, leaving the entire edifice wobbling.

Fake but Accurate Identities?

The trivial Elizabeth Warren “high cheekbones” fraud [1] nonetheless offered a draw-back-the-curtain look into the gears and levers of our national race industry. The real story is not that the multimillionaire liberal (and one-percenter) Warren fabricated a Cherokee identity for over a decade (to the delight of her quota-thirsty universities), but rather the notion that if a pink blond at Harvard can get away with faking a career-enhancing minority identity, then anyone, anywhere, can — or rather often has.

Give Ward Churchill his due: he worked at it — unlike Warren, who junked her supposed great, great, great grandparent once she got tenure and being “Indian” was a drag at Cambridge cocktail parties. At least, like the proverbial chameleon on the leaf, Churchill tried to alter his appearance with buckskin, beads, and braids to find an edge his otherwise mediocre talents and white male status would not supply. In contrast, Warren simply by fiat claimed high cheekbones — no beads, no trips to the reservation, no buckskin, no Churchillian effort. Note the connivance of Harvard, which hand-in-glove used Warren’s pseudo-identity to pad its “diversity” goals, which enable a mostly white yuppie left-wing faculty to, well, not feel too guilty about remaining a mostly white yuppie left-wing faculty.

Anyone who has taught in a university has come across the “Cherokee” con, especially given the Oklahoma diaspora in California. By the time I retired from CSU, I was exhausted with “1/16th” Cherokee students, who claimed success with their gambits. This was a world of Provost Liz Smith-Lopezes, José Beckers, Simba Bavuals, and all the other attempts to traffic in victimized identities.

Still, Warren, as no other recent examples, reminds us of the bald fakery in America these days. “Van” Jones was not born Van Jones. Louis (note theJehmu Greene [2] bowtie) Farrakhan was not born Farrakhan (yet just try to be a cool black racist as the Caribbean Louie Wolcott, aka Calypso Gene). In his twenties, Barry Dunham Obama went from Barry (a not very useful preppie suburbanite-sounding name) to Barack Obama. In the Lala-lands of academia, high journalism, and big government (though not in the landscaping business, farming, or short-order cookery), we sometimes wear identities in America as we do clothes, a different outfit as the occasion demands, given that our present-day Jim Crow racialists are busy figuring out to what degree pigment, ethnic ancestry, nomenclature, or assumed identity “counts.”

Cross the border and you in theory can go from an impoverished Mexican national that lived a wretched material existence thanks to grandees in Mexico City to a “minority” with vicarious claims against the American system who is suddenly eligible for oppression-based, affirmative action recompense. But if your family came from Egypt in 1950, you apparently qualify for very little reparations, even if you are darker than the recent Jalisco arrival. Yet again, score 1600 on the SAT and achieve a 4.5 GPA in high school, and if both Asian and wanting to go to Berkeley or Stanford, well then, who cares about the Japanese interment, the Chinese coolie labor of the 1850s, or the exclusionary acts of the 1920s? Too many Asians doing too well is not diversity at all, so we go into the reverse quota mode of exclusion. Warren reminded us that we will soon need DNA badges to certify the exploding ethnic, racial, and gender claims against society. And just as there are too few young these days to support the retiring Baby Boom generation on Social Security, so too we have too few oppressors left to pay out subsidies and recompense for the growing legion of Warren-like victims.

Isn’t It the Economy, Stupid? 

We have had 38 months of 8% plus unemployment. We are setting records in the numbers of Americans not working and the percentage of the adult population not employed. GDP growth was a pathetic 1.7%. The borrowing hit $5 trillion under Obama, who between golf outings and campaign hit-ups of wealthy people, adds $1 trillion plus each year in more debt. To question how to pay it back is to pollute the air or abandon the children. In 2005, Paul Krugman was writing why Bush’s spending was going to crash the economy; in 2012, Paul Krugman is writing why Obama’s far greater deficit spending, on top of Bush’s debts, is not going to crash the economy, given that we need to borrow far more than our paltry $3 or $4 billion a day.

In 2004, the media’s “jobless recovery” was the description of George W. Bush’s 5.4% unemployment rate. “It’s the economy, stupid” referred to George H.W. Bush’s 1992 annual 3.3-4% GDP growth rate. “Unpatriotic” was W’s $4 trillion in borrowing in eight years, not $5 trillion in three. If Obama right now had 5.4% unemployment, 3.4% economic growth, and a budget deficit of about $400 billion, what would the media call it—a job-full recovery, “it’s not the economy, smarty,” or patriotic borrowing?

Those with capital — slurred as one-percenters, fat cats, and corporate jet owners unless hit up for Obama campaign donations — are not hiring or buying. Maybe they think oncoming Obamacare will smash them. Maybe they see on the Obama horizon rampant inflation, debt cancellation, or higher taxes as planned liberal remedies for our endless borrowing. Maybe these shrugging Atlases see that fossil fuel energy is not pursued on federal lands, but needless new regulations are implemented.

Whatever the reason, they hesitate — only sorta buying here, kinda hiring there. And the result of millions of these collective hesitancies is an ossified Europeanized economy, run by technocrats without private sector experience and exempt from the sacrifice they demand of others, as they desperately try to borrow and grow the government to ensure a permanent lease on power through the creation of a vast angry dependent constituency. Not near-zero interest rates, not nearly a trillion dollars in “stimulus,” not four years of chronic deficits, not “quantitative easing,” not any classical priming seems able to shock the unwilling and hesitant back into action.

And Then There Is Our Survival

For about three years I have been monotonously suggesting that we were once again in a 1977-1979 Carteresque era, as Obama systematically trashed his predecessor’s policies, denounced “exceptionalism” and “unilateralism,” gave soaring narcissistic sermons on his/our new morality abroad, redefined both allies and enemies as morally equivalent neutrals, and generally suggested that if you were a China, Russia, Middle East, or Latin America, you had justifiable grievances against the pre-Obama US, at least during the era when the president was just “three years old.” Last time we did this, after three years of Carter’s sermonizing, calculating nations in 1979-1980 saw that it was time to get up from the table and cash in their chips. So we saw Russia in Afghanistan, China in Vietnam, Iranians in the US embassy, communist insurgencies in Latin America, and radical Islam on the rise, culminating in the annus terribilis1980. I’m afraid 2012 may be our 1980. For the Carter Doctrine will we get a Johnny-come-lately “Obama Doctrine”?

A “reset” Russia now threatens unilaterally to preempt and take out proposed US anti-missile sites in Eastern Europe (Poland and the Czech Republic should enjoy that, even though it is mere bluster). The Chen case [3] reminds of China’s growing contempt for the indebted US (They did not get the message that a community organizer and Chicago part-time lecturer is a post-national, post-racial healer.) The Arab Spring is turning into an Islamist Winter. What the media forgot to tell us about the spike-the-ball presidential trip to Afghanistan is the president’s promise to end Predator drone strikes against al-Qaeda targets in Pakistan — the liberal favorite tool of foreign policy (no prisoners in Guantanamo, no tribunals, no trials, no media videos of the explosions, no reports of the kids and granny blown up along with the suspect, little dollar costs, no US lives endangered, no downside really other than we sometimes are not quite sure whom we blew up below).

The more we praised and emulated the EU, the more it unraveled and the more its leaders distrust the “lead from behind” America (Obama never quite got it that, when Europeans trashed us for leading and being capitalist, the whining was a psychological mechanism for being happy that someone other than themselves was still leading and somewhere outside Europe was still capitalist). Or alternatively, just as Obama is our Nemesis, so too he is Europe’s: be careful what you pine away for.

If I were a state or clique up to no good, and if I thought Obama might not be reelected, in my final window of opportunity, perhaps around September, I might flex my muscles in the former Soviet republics, send another missile over Japan or South Korea, cruise into Taiwanese waters, put some Argentine Marines on the “Malvinas,” seek readjustment in Cyprus and the Aegean, send some rockets into Tel Aviv, dispatch some suicide bombers from Gaza, and let off more missiles from Iran. Not just to make a statement, or to gain more “please don’t” concessions, but because it was my pleasure to do it — if only for the hell of it.

Ministry of Truth

Around January 2009, deficits became “stimulus.” “Jobless recovery” vanished from the vocabulary. Guantanamo, renditions, and preventative detention virtually ended. And Obama’s successful surge paved the way out of Iraq. Predator assassinations of hundreds of suspected terrorists and anyone nearby when the explosives went off were liberal improvements over waterboarding three confessed terrorists.

The good war in Afghanistan turned bad, and the bad one in Iraq turned good. The Obama “surge” brought peace to Iraq. We were told that we could not just sit by and watch Libyan thugs kill the innocent, but could do just that in oil-scant Syria. Obtaining UN and Arab League approval to go to war without the US Congress was “leading from behind.”

Those who made over $200,000 never paid their “fair share,” but could — and not by paying more in taxes, but by buying a $40,000 a person ticket to an Obama fundraiser. Golf was no longer an aristocratic indulgence, but fresh-air, healthy downtime for an overworked president. Mangling words and abject ignorance—whether “corpse-man” or Maldives/Malvinas — were evident only to nit-picking partisans. A downright mean country redeemed itself with free jet service to Costa del Sol, Aspen, Vail, and Martha’s Vineyard.

Yes, after January 2009, Al Gore lives in a tiny green home. “Two Americas” John Edwards did not really build a 30,000 square foot mansion, with a 4,000 square foot “John’s Lounge.” “Punish our enemies” was the new civility.

What Does It All Mean?

In short, liberalism does not work, contrary as it is to human nature. I wish I could just say that about every thirty years or so, forgetful Americans take an allergy shot of it, suffer the reaction, and then get another three decades of Carter/Obama immunity. But instead statist redistribution and intrusion are an insidious process, no longer specific just to Democrats, but bound up in the growing affluence and leisure of the West—both serving its various needs of alleviating guilt to the masses, subsidizing half the nation, and providing much envied power and lucre to a highly educated and technocratic elite who have little talent for acquiring either in the private sector. That it is not sustainable does not mean that it will not cause havoc as it totters and collapses. Look at Russia and Eastern Europe circa 1989, or the present-day EU, or Greece proper, or California or Illinois today.


URLs in this post
[1] Elizabeth Warren “high cheekbones” fraud:http://video.weeklystandard.com/video/Elizabeth-Warren39s-Native-Amer;recent
[2] Jehmu Greene: http://pjmedia.com/rogerkimball/2012/05/05/more-on-bow-tien-white-boys/
[3] Chen case: http://pjmedia.com/blog/chen-from-purported-diplomatic-triumph-to-diplomatic-fiasco/

©2012 Victor 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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