Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Angry Reader 11-02-2018

From An Angry Reader:

Maybe if nazi apologists weren’t threatening to lock up their political enemies, or harassing them in their columns, we might see less polarization. Hi Victor, Nice to meet you. You wrote about me in March. Care to discuss? Or are you just up for the pot shots in your column?

Melinda Byerley, Founder, TimeshareCMO

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Dear Angry Tweeter Melinda Byerley,

I will only respond to your latest tweet and do so once, since it is merely one of a frenzied series that displays a certain obsessive-compulsive monotony.

You do not start out well when your third word is “nazi” (sic). If you meant to include me in your category of Nazi “apologists” who wish “to lock up” their enemies or harass them, you might at least cite proof that I am a Nazi sympathizer, or have advised locking up or harassing any one. As for harassing or locking people up, remember that you are writing in an era in which the Obama-administration’s FBI, CIA, DOJ, and IRS were all weaponized for political purposes and many of these agencies’ top administrators have resigned, been fired, retired, or face criminal exposure.

You are apparently angry because I merely quoted an infamous rant of your own that you posted on social media right after the 2016 election. It was reposted and republished in hundreds of social media and news venues, apparently because your candor in expressing your abject disdain for red-state America became iconic of why and how the election turned out as it did. In sum, your venom inadvertently became the touchstone to the prejudices and stereotypes of a self-appointed elite.

So what I quoted in my column was an extended excerpt of your own words as they were reported in the general media and they were as follows:

“One thing middle America could do is to realize that no educated person wants to live in a sh**hole with stupid people. Especially violent, racist, and/or misogynistic ones…When corporations think about where to locate call centers, factories, development centers, etc., they also have to deal with the fact that those towns have nothing going for them. No infrastructure, just a few bars and a terrible school system.”

Your own words reveal a great deal of hatred and stereotyping, and yet in the end display abject ignorance. By ignorance, I mean even your prejudices are not factual.

In fact, California infrastructure is usually rated at or near bottom in most state rankings of roads, bridges, and airports. The streets of suburban Palo Alto and Menlo Park are often potholed and substandard. California ranks usually in the bottom fifth of our nation’s schools; test scores usually rate no higher than 45th in comparisons with the other 50 states. Silicon Valley professionals apparently realize these depressing statistics, which may explain spiraling enrollments in private academies and prep schools by those who have apparently no desire to put their own children in Santa Clara and San Mateo public schools and have thus forsaken public education, despite their otherwise progressive and egalitarian ideologies. I have traveled to lots of small towns and rural areas in the so-called swing states that gave Trump the election, and have not witnessed the degree of homelessness that now characterizes major California cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego.

Thousands of Silicon Valley tech workers, in addition to tens of thousands of low-wage and often minority laborers, live in their automobiles and vans which dot streets where they work—especially in the environs of the signature companies of Silicon Valley.

Multiple families cram into single Redwood City homes. Why, when the market capitalization of companies like Apple, Facebook and Google reaches nearly three trillion dollars, and there are vast expanses of open land between the Pacific Ocean and freeway 280, are not there not affordable housing projects, especially in a state that virtue-signals its egalitarianism?

You may think the hinterland is, in your words, a “sh**hole”, but your own state is home to the most impoverished residents in the nation, where outbreaks of hepatitis and typhus are now not uncommon. California’s poverty rate ranges at about 20 percent of the resident population; one-third of the nation’s residents on some form of public assistance now live in California. Wealth disparity is among the most acute in the nation. Crime now makes many California cities quite unsafe.

In fact, hundreds of California businesses are relocating to red-state America, often in areas without the natural beauty and climate of California, given that they find the infrastructure, government regulations, schools, safety, and power and fuel costs far superior to those in California. New changes in the tax codes and continued depressing news about rising California crime, homelessness, failing schools and public agencies may accelerate the trend.

The people of rural America outside California in fact have a lot going for them. They are hardly “stupid”, and they feel no need to flee the public-school system. As far as bars go, I think there may well be more bars per capita in cities of California, Silicon Valley included, than what I have seen in places like Iowa, Indiana, and Ohio.

Again, I bear no animus toward you. I wrote not “pot-shots,” but simply quoted your own words—as did hundreds of other writers and journalists who found them emblematic, as I did, of a cultural and political denseness that helps to explain the Trump victory. Your current scurrilous tweet alleging that I am a Nazi sympathizer only confirms your original unhinged posting. So not only do you write recklessly and inaccurately, but you display a certain crudity perhaps unbecoming of a CEO of a corporation. That you couch your views with an aura of self-assumed cultural superiority is really quite sad.

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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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