Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Angry Reader

03/22/17

From an Angry Reader:

This was written with the notion that we can have a mutual exchange of ideas.

Thanks,

Tom:

Victor Davis Hanson (sic) commentary (I assume it is Dr. Hanson) is very quiet and unassuming along with his Rodney King, “Why can’t we just get along,” attitude coupled with, ” everybody’s opinion is valid,” is simply irksome at best.  Many people Dr. Hanson have varied skills and have worked in several job capacities.  You assume that the people in the cities are trying to impose their values on the rest of the country and you are correct, we are.

There are some things worth fighting for, worth striving for, and worth dying for–at least our fore bearers (sic) believed as much.  Dr. Hanson shows the same kind of disrespect he commenting (sic) on rather than the tolerance that he supposedly espouses.

Dr. Hanson Stanford has an International Relations department (sic) no?  This a (sic) discipline for which Trump and his team seem to have so little respect. Do you not believe in the proponents of feminism, nor a woman’s right to her own body? What about freedom of speech, the free press, and accountability? Do you know what Clinton and President Trump value? When you know that it is not unlike knowing the difference between engine oil and hydraulic fluid.

Tom Claxton, Teacher

Leask, Saskatchewan, Canada

 

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Tom Claxton,

Dear Tom Claxton,

I assume that you are a teacher, but your letter is almost incomprehensible; was there something wrong with your electronic submission? Words and punctuation marks seem left out to the point that your meaning is almost impossible to fathom.

Otherwise, you fulfill all the requisites to make our Angry Reader posting: ad hominem attacks; no argument or examples to support your charges; and sarcasm and snark.

Thank you for at least admitting that “people in the cities are trying to impose their values on the rest of the country and you are correct, we are.” I think that would include everything from our $20 trillion in national debt to anemic economic growth to our third-world infrastructure.

When you say “there are some things worth fighting for, worth striving for, and worth dying for—at least our fore bearers (sic) believed as much” could you at least list them?

But to do so would suggest that you believe “things” like freedom (?), liberty (?) and security (?) were only the concerns of the city? Second, for most of the history of the United States and certainly through the early twentieth century, the majority of Americans were either rural or lived in small towns and cities, so “the rest of the country” was largely a story of being on the front lines in the nation’s wars. To read the correspondence of the Founders (Jefferson especially) is largely to read paeans to the countryside and farming and warnings about the dangers of urbanization and its culture for free and consensual government.

Where to start when you finally mention some details to respond to? What does Stanford’s International Relations Department have to do with the essay in question? Do you really believe that the proverbial academic “best and brightest” have an impressive record in foreign policy?

I define feminism as women being accorded equal rights to men under the law, and enjoying equal relations culturally, economically, and socially in a tolerant society—and thus “feminism” could be expressed in a number of ways and examples, from my maternal grandmother (one of 12 children who grew up on the frontier and kept an entire family together during the Depression on a farm, raised children and died at 93, or my mother who was a Stanford Law graduate and one of the first women on the California state appeals court.) Each sought a very different pathway; both were feminists in being powerful women who demanded and obtained equal rights and consideration. I don’t know exactly what their views were on abortions, but they did not equate the issue with feminism or with control of their own bodies, given the concerns of a living fetus, whose early viability in the womb is not subject to debate and whose future and safety are of interest to society at large.

Your simile of hydraulic fluid and engine oil is incoherent, fatal to any such metaphorical abstraction. Your initial sentence is a grammatical mess that makes comprehension almost impossible.

Are you suggesting in your reference to free speech and a free press that President Trump is now monitoring the correspondence of Associated Press reporters, tapping the communications of reporter James Rosen, sending memoranda to colleges to suspend due process in matters of alleged sexual assault on campus, allowing the IRS to go after political enemies and to leak tax returns, or jailing a video maker on false allegations that he caused a riot in Benghazi? Or do you mean he has set up a secret email server to communicate White House business without an electronic record, or that he has deleted his communications?

Sadly for all your passion, you never once actually say what are the values that city people are trying to impose on others. To take recent issues: is it transgendered restrooms? Cessation of investment and maintenance of rural infrastructure? NAFTA? TPP? Impressive cultural accomplishment such as the work of Miley Cyrus, Beyoncé or Madonna?

I appreciate your outreach, e.g., “This was written with the notion that we can have a mutual exchange of ideas.” But for that to happen, as a teacher, you know that you must first express your ideas coherently and in detail rather than merely offer generalities, with no specificity or examples, but replete with sarcasm.

Sincerely,

Victor Davis Hanson

 

 


03/21/17

From an Angry Reader:

Sorry so many of the stars disagree with your politics, but it is an alternative fact to state that the envelope mixup was the fault of dense celebrities. The PWC representative, who handed the wrong envelope to Warren Beatty, along with his PWC associate in the wings, the only other person who knew the correct winner but did not immediately stop the proceedings to remedy the matter, were at fault. PWC did accept responsibility. Not something those on the right ever dream of doing. Much easier to blame everything on lefties.
Melinda Valencia
Glastonbury CT

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Melinda Valencia,

I did not blame the disaster on “lefties.” My point was that everyone involved in the Academy Awards, from the actors and directors/producers to the managers of the ceremony itself seemed to focus on politics (http://ew.com/tv/2017/02/26/oscars-trump/), and in such excessive fashion that they forgot that their first duty was to produce a professional awards ceremony—part of the essay’s larger theme that when we cannot manage the basics we resort to pontificating about the abstract.

I don’t know what “the right” has to do with an Oscars’ ceremony. In the future, if Hollywood and its auxiliaries will focus on the procedures and protocols and less on virtue signaling to their audiences about contemporary politics, there will be less chance of a monumental and embarrassing flub. After all, it is not difficult to select a winner, type the name on a piece of paper, put it into an envelope, and hand to a presenter. High schools do it all the time without causing mayhem on the stage.

Sincerely, Victor Davis Hanson

 


03/20/17

From an Angry Reader:

After reading your discombobulated thoughts on Academy Awards, Mayor Bloomberg, et al., I now know why newspapers have traditionally been used as toilet tissue.

M. Buendia
Breinigsville PA

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader M. Buendia,
Are such angry letters mass produced in some central clearing house? No argument: CHECK; typical personal smear: CHECK; incoherence: CHECK.
All I needed from you is a simple refutation that 1) the Academy Awards were not Trump Bashing and did prove incompetent in not being able to identify the best picture awardee; 2) that Mayor Bloomberg talked of utopian solutions but could not remove snow from city streets promptly after a blizzard. Instead, your argument is that the newspaper is rightly used as toilet paper, but in your case not until you (firstly I assume) read it.
Sincerely,
Victor Davis Hanson


 

03/17/17

From an Angry Reader:

Mr. Hanson. Don’t know what Acadamy awards you were watching but my husband and I watched the whole show.  There was no bashing of Mr Trump at all during the entire show.  Jimmy Kimmel did some jokes but light weight.  So please we are tired of all the lies ..
Thank you
HALLIE BOSETTI

          Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Hallie Bosetti,

As I have noted in the past, there are typical characteristics of all angry progressive letters: 1) an inability simply to tell the truth and chronic distortion; 2) a resort to ad hominem attacks without argumentation; and 3) an inability to write coherently.

You do not disappoint.

1) In fact, I watched some of the Oscars and you are quite wrong that “there was no bashing of Mr. Trump at all during the entire show.”

Below I quote the synopsis from Entertainment Weekly, a standard, nonpartisan journal that covers Hollywood.

Read carefully please their account of the Academy Awards (http://ew.com/tv/2017/02/26/oscars-trump/)  Here is a sampling following their headline “Oscars Attack Trump: Celebs Unleashed on Hollywood’s big night

The first salvo against Donald Trump was fired only a few minutes into the Oscars — and then they just kept on coming. In what might be an unprecedented numbers of jokes, allusions, and sincere articulations inspired by a single person during an awards telecast, Hollywood’s most luminous tackled Trump and his policies during the the 89th annual Academy Awards. From host Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue, to the acceptance speeches, to those blue ribbons on tuxedo lapels, there were direct and indirect references to the 45th president throughout the ceremony.

2) Why do you resort to attacks like “we are tired of all the lies” in lieu of an argument? Such desperation only undermines your modest efforts.

3) Academy is not spelled Acadamy.

Sincerely,

Victor Davis Hanson

 

 


03/14/17

From an Angry Reader:

Read your column on immigration published in the 2/24/2017 Morning Call (Lehigh Valley, PA) and was wondering – you seemed to indicate that falsification of government affidavits should be grounds for deportation.  Since it appears that Melanie Trump was employed in violation of her visa in the mid 1990’s, and lied about it on her naturalization application, would you support deporting her, or do you favor a different standard for the rich?

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/37dc7aef0ce44077930b7436be7bfd0d/trumps-wife-modeled-us-prior-getting-work-visa

 Thomas Schreiber

 Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Thomas Schreiber,

 I am not aware that news accounts of Ms. Trump’s immigration status of years past were any more accurate than were charges that she worked for an escort service—smears that led to an ongoing lawsuit against the Daily Mail.

 No one has successfully accused Ms. Trump of entering the US illegally or committing document falsification—as you insinuate.

 Rather the election-cycle rumors were that she entered the US on a tourist visa (and and subsequently resided on a work visa and then a green card) and worked before her work visa was processed.

 In contrast, she insists she was scouting job opportunities while on a tourist visa and subsequently went to work only when she obtained a work visa and then a green card.

 The dispute involves a 7-week period in the transition between a tourist and a work visa. The AP story did not substantiate your accusations, given that it is based on anonymous sources that supposedly provided ledgers dating back more than 20 years ago—and which remained unnamed. The accusations appeared, of course, just days before the November election.

 In sum, Ms. Trump’s has not been accused of falsification of documents; and there is as yet no evidence that she jumped the gun by 7 weeks by working rather than just investigating work before the transition to her work visa. To compare this charge with falsification of documents or filing false affidavits is ridiculous. And Melania Knauss was not “rich” when she entered the United States two decades ago as you also falsely allege.

 If you remain worried about equality under the law, I suggest reexamining Hillary Clinton’s exemption after destroying email, illegally using a private server for State Department business, and granting concessions to large donors to the Clinton Foundation; they are better examples of the rich receiving preferential treatment than rumors about one Melanie Knauss working rather than interviewing for work a few weeks before her legal work visa was finalized.

 Sincerely, Victor Hanson


03/13/17

From and Angry Reader:

Dear Professor Hanson,

Evidently you are a supporter of Donald Trump. If I read your essay on this subject correctly, you seem to be implying that, unlike the false elitism of the Washington Beltway, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley, we should look to the real basis of brilliance and repute in a “demonstrable record of moral and intellectual excellence.”

Do you seriously mean to say that Donald Trump’s life has such a “demonstrable record”?  A man who cavalierly treats women as objects for his sexual pleasure and lies at the drop of a hat we are to believe is a man of high moral character?  Or one who has trouble constructing a sentence using a vocabulary of more than 100 words (everything is just “fantastic”) demonstrates intellectual excellence?

The problem with Trump is not so much his policies, about which reasonable people may disagree, but his character flaws.  As David Brook recently commented, Trump is “ripe to be played” by foreign leaders like Putin who are smarter and more wily than he is. But Trump has such a fragile ego that he is likely to react to being played in his typically childish, immature way by lashing out at everyone and anyone he thinks is disrespecting him. He never takes responsibility for anything, always blaming others for his own mistakes, and he does not know how to accept and deal with criticism in a rational way.  He also suffers from what, as you classicists know, the Greeks called hubris.  And you know what hubris leads to: tragedy.

Let’s just hope that the tragedy ends up being his personally and not ours collectively. With such a man having access to the nuclear trigger, we should all be hoping that we somehow manage to survive these next four years without a tragedy of monumental proportions.

Sincerely,
Sanford G. Thatcher’

P.S. I attach a short bio so that you know my background.

Sanford G. Thatcher
Frisco, TX  75034-5514
https://scholarsphere.psu.edu

“If a book is worth reading, it is worth buying.”-John Ruskin (1865)

“The reason why so few good books are written is that so few people who can write know anything.”-Walter Bagehot (1853)

“Logic, n. The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding.”-Ambrose Bierce (1906)
—————————————————–

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Sanford Thatcher,

There is no need to attach your biography in our new age of populism; the persuasiveness of your argument should stand or fall by what you have written rather than the authority of your CV.

As you know, I certainly did not equate Trump with proof of non-elite moral excellence; rather I explained his election through the widespread anger at political and media elites that was aired through his populist candidacy.

I voted for Donald Trump when there was a binary between his agenda and that of Hillary Clinton.

There is some truth in what you have written about Trump’s rhetorical crudity and his past behavior, but, of course, the Clintons were a virtual crime syndicate—she using her office to leverage cash for the Foundation (a sinecure for unemployable Team Clinton politicos between campaigns) and Bill’s speaking career. Of course, when she lost and is now permanently out of federal office, she can do no connivers any good and so the money dried up and the Foundation is reeling—proof of sorts that the entire operation was a pay-for-play enterprise of the sort that earns most people an indictment.

Actually hubris is a result of Koros (instability and excess resulting from power and wealth) that leads to leads to Hubris (overweening arrogance) to Ate (madness and self-inflicted destruction) and ends in Nemesis (divine and fated retribution), which is all the stuff of tragedy, given that the sequence is usually associated initially with people of talent and good intentions.

All this may certainly apply to Trump’s earlier business implosions, and it fits Bill Clinton perfectly, and Obama may end up the same way.

My point is that in 2016 the choice was not between two characters as much as two agendas: I preferred a foreign policy of deterrence backed by military strength as a better way of preventing wars and interventions, an end to doubling the debt, zero interest rates, and record low GDP growth, a stop to illegal immigration and racial polarization, a restoration of the health care system, and efforts at tax and regulatory reform to restart the economy, as well as renewed energy production—all as a mechanism to help the so-called forgotten man, the middle classes who were the losers under globalization.

I saw far greater hope that Trump might enact such an agenda, and no hope that Hillary Clinton would.

As far as character flaws, pick your poison. His I thought were mostly rhetorical (as you note with your unease about his limited vocabulary) and in the private sphere; hers were concrete and at the public expense, from her cattle futures fraud, to her Wikileaks scandals to the Clinton foundation criminality to her callousness and lying about Benghazi. Hillary as you know is a serial liar, from the mundane (her landing in the Balkans under sniper fire) to the existential (lying to the families of the Benghazi dead).

You might have noted that we survived Bill Clinton committing sex acts in the Oval Office bathroom with a subordinate intern less than half his age (the sort of thing that gets a professor fired summarily), and then lying about it under oath, resulting in his disbarment—the sort of crudity I think you are implying disqualifies one for high office?

Obama, remember, tapped the communications of AP reporters, monitored the communications of James Rosen of Fox News, droned US citizens, bombed Libya without congressional approval, granted amnesties of the sort that he had once warned were unconstitutional, lied about the ACA, and simply chose not to enforce various federal laws he found at odds with his progressive agenda.

If you are arguing that Trump is a Frankenstein monster, then the Dr. Frankenstein creator is surely Barack Obama whose executive orders, partisan rhetoric, nullification of federal laws, and abject ruination of the Democratic Party at the state, congressional, and presidential level all empowered Trump.

So far job growth and the stock market are up; Trump’s appointments in the national security sphere are centrist and heralded. His selections from the business and military fields are a welcome change from the tired retreads from academia and government. And his illegal immigration initiatives and energy agendas are overdue.

As far as hubris, self-reflect: in the last 90 days liberal commentators and pundits have variously called for Trump’s murder, his immediate removal for health reasons, his impeachment, and his resignation.

His phone calls to foreign leaders and communications have been illegally tapped (and so note that the media is now backing away from their Russian collusion charges that proved so far groundless, as they worry more that intelligence agencies’ tapping and the leaking may be exposed as the felonious acts they were); his wife has been accused falsely of prostitution and immigration fraud. Trump himself has been falsely accused (in print) of urophilia and suffering from neurosyphilis.

One New York Times columnist has begged the IRS to commit a felony and send him the Trump tax returns; another compared his election to the mass deaths of Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Is not all that indicative of classical madness that will surely lead to an accounting? Trump, the supposed buffoon, polls higher in the public’s estimation of veracity than does the highbrow media).

On the larger topic of the “elite,” I think we could say that those in Bakersfield or Des Moines did not give us record debt, serial corruption in the IRS, VA, GSA, or EPA, and a world in free fall abroad. Here in California the best and brightest managed to deliver the highest basket of income, sales, and gas taxes in the nation resulting in infrastructure and schools rated near the very bottom in state-to-state comparisons. The Orville dam is a metaphor of elite indifference to existential problems while it pursued transgendered restrooms and bobcat health.

Sincerely,

Victor Davis Hanson

 


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)

 


02/24/17

From an Angry Reader:

You are most definitely wrong, California could go it alone. They are after all the sixth largest economy in the world. If secession is in their future the US Federal government would be more likely to fall into chaos than California. We need them more than they need us. As for your comparison between post Civil War South Carolina and California you again miss the mark. California is not a defeated state divided along the lines of different human types. They get along together just fine. The comparison you make is a better fit to the new White House. White billionaires take over America. Private academies, are you playing with me? These are the future under the new White house. California’s crumbling infrastructure would be a thing of the past if they seceded. You my friend and I would pay for it when we go to the grocery store. If you think produce from Mexico and South America will fill this gap your wakeup to reality will be monumental.

I live in New Mexico. Like California, a closer look reveals we are both minority majority states. Unlike California we are highly dependent on the feds. Still rich or poor we all get along. I’m poor by fed standards but I could still move to California and live in my own house on my own land. Your world is one of needing the very best, living on or near the sea or some big lake, having tons of belongings. Like the people who now rule America. Is that your idea of righteous?

Your take on our current state of affairs is what will bring America down. And that should be were your focus is. You have a following that could make a difference. Speak out against discordant bunk. I love this country more than I can put into words. I actually went to Vietnam and represented my country. Oh I had bone spurs in my feet, still do. But real Americans would never use this as a cop out to service. There is no greater honor than service to ones country. The difference is believing you can make a difference or help yourself to a bigger piece of the pie.

Keep writing sir, and I’ll keep reading. I may not like all of what you say, but I have an open door policy. If it’s good for all Americans, I’m all in.

Regards, Julian Schuetz.

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Julian Schuetz,

I’m a bit confused about the incoherent directions of your letter, but here is an attempt to sort them out.

California cannot go it alone. The federal government owns vast amounts of state property. The state has 1/3 of the nation’s welfare recipients; 1/5 of Californians lives in poverty, and 1/4 were not born in the U.S. Its health and social welfare costs for the poor, the unemployed, and immigrants have become staggering, as well as its education and penal expenses. You can perhaps sort out the paradox of sky-high income, sales, and gas taxes, combined with Mississippi-like roads and test scores. I cannot.

So, yes, California’s investments in infrastructure have been diminished due to the costs of social welfare, pensions, and entitlements. As far as the billionaires go, look at the top 10 in the world, they are almost all leftwing grandees, and of the top 50 many reside in the Silicon Valley. As a general rule, the richer or poorer one becomes, the more likely he is to become progressive; lack the elite romance for the distant poor and the supposed high culture of the elite, and thus are often neglected.

Charter schools are not private academies, but an attempt to allow poor people to choose schools that might differ from the status quo without having to pay private academy tuition. If California seceded, it would have more infrastructure challenges—given that it needs $100 billion in federal help to restore crumbling roads, dams, and bridges, and would more likely spend even less on infrastructure maintenance and more on high-speed rail, climate change, etc. We have wasted a valuable wet year, by previously cancelling all dam construction that would have captured the likely 20 million acre feet or so of certain lost runoff. Boutique environmentalism would only increase with secession.

The rest of your letter is unhinged, so I cannot reply.

A note though: I don’t have lots of “belongings” but drive only mid-level Hondas and live in a 140 old house on which I do my own repairs most of the time, mow my own law, and keep up my own garden. My farm outside of Selma is neither by a lake nor a sea. I think you are well-meaning, but do not let emotion erode logic; and strive for clarity of thought in lieu of unfocused passion.

Sincerely, VDH

 


02/23/17

From an Angry Reader:

Prof. Hanson:

 

First, as an aggressive moderate, I believe any talk of California secession is simply a waste of time and idiotic.  But saying “California” supports secession is equally absurd.  One third of the population reflects nothing close to a majority, not to mention the small poll sampling, and it does not compare to Virginia in 1860, where fewer than 2,000 people voted for Lincoln (as a historian, I’m sure you know Lincoln wasn’t even on the ballot in South Carolina).  This secessionist garbage is not close to getting on the ballot yet, but, of course, if there is sufficient funding, anything can hit the ballot.

 

Further, as I live in Silicon Valley (and I am aware you are at the Hoover Institution), the majority here do not believe that these tech companies are “a world unto their own.”  Quite the opposite, they believe that they are part of the world, with a powerful global view that great companies throughout our history have held.  My office sits between Oracle and Electronic Arts, and, frankly, I find the population of these organizations essentially the same as those who populated the Engineering Quad at my college 35-40 years ago.

 

More locally, I live in Redwood City, and to say it is “mostly poor” is abundantly absurd.  Go to downtown Redwood City for dinner.  Before, drive through Redwood Shores and anywhere west of El Camino.  I’ve had people knock on the door of my 3+2 home and offer to pay me over $1.3 million in cash for it without even coming in the door.  Yes, there are some lower income areas, but even the majority of those are safe and filled with good, hard-working people.

 

Finally, please do not compare any state in this country to a Confederate state.  Texas’s secessionist movement would have been a more comparable example, but still not even close.  Nothing now compares to those troubled times, even with our current divisions.  As the namesake of a Sergeant in the Union Army who was at Appomattox and saw his dead brother go by on a stretcher three days before the signing of the surrender of Lee’s forces, let me say these comparisons are apples to bullets.

 

Wardell Loveland

Redwood City

 

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Somewhat Angry Reader Wardell Loveland,

 

First, I did not write that all of California supports secession, but was careful to qualify with terms such as “Calexit supporters” or “some California officials” and “liberal California,” at least enough so to note that the entire state does not advocate such nonsense. Unfortunately, you never refute my arguments, which reviewed all sorts of neo-Confederate ideas from federal nullification to sanctuary cities to Calexit to a King Cotton like economy. Incidentally, even “one third” of California represents 13 million people, a number which would make it the fifth largest state in the union.

 

“A world unto their own” refers to Big Tech’s public progressive facade and its private embrace of outsourcing, offshoring, and, yes, a “global view” that I am not sure is either what companies quite held in the past or is of reassurance to Americans in this age of borderless globalization, in which it is hard to calibrate sometimes what exactly are multinational affinities. When programmers in Silicon Valley currently cannot afford housing it makes no sense for tech companies to lobby for greater numbers of immigrant computer people. That is certainly a “global view” but to many it reflects a “world unto their own” blinkered self-absorption.

In any case, such worries resonated in the last election and perhaps explain the implosion of the Democratic base by those who felt globalization was a problem not the solution and benefitted inordinately global elites, particularly those in high tech, law, finance, and government at the perceived expense of the hinterland.

 

Comparing the poverty of Redwood City to nearby tony Atherton is not “absurd” but true. Of course, gentrification spikes housing prices as those forced out of Menlo Park seek enclaves in Redwood City and East Palo Alto, but to walk through much of Redwood City is not the same experience as doing the same a few miles away in Menlo Park and Palo Alto and you of course must know that. The per capita income of Atherton, referenced in the essay, is about $144,000; that of Woodside is $125,000. Compare that to next-door Redwood City at $42,000. That seems to substantiate my point in a way your anecdotes sadly do not.

 

You seem confused about the nature of poverty when you state of areas of Redwood City that “even the majority of those are safe and filled with good, hard-working people” as if that proves that they are not poor in comparison to those living a few thousand yards away. Being poor and hard-working as well as good are not antithetical concepts as you seem to imply. My larger point again was that like the Old South, California is a society of two rather than three classes, with a ruling elite that seems to prefer a lifestyle and culture not conducive to the prosperity of a middle class, especially in terms of affordable highways, good highways, and competitive schools.

 

Your letter fails for two reasons. One, you fail to note that I early on noted the differences between a modern state and the Old South (“Of course, this is 2017, not 1860, and California is super-liberal, not an antebellum slave-owning society.”); two, you did not refute any of my points about infrastructure (written before the Oroville dam catastrophe), the state’s high taxes and poor services, the effect of boutique environmentalism upon the working classes, and the strange paradox a high basket of taxes combined with the nation’s near last infrastructure and schools.

 

I am a great, great grandson of a Union soldier from Missouri and my own uncle and namesake died on Okinawa with the 6th Marine Division, so I do not need lectures about family lineages. The point of the essay was not to caricature California, but to warn of the dangers of nullifying federal laws, talking of secession, withholding federal revenues, and gravitating to an antebellum culture of a small class on top with a service class on the bottom. We know where that eventually leads.

 

Sincerely, Victor Davis Hanson

 

 


02/22/17

From an Angry Reader:

VDH,

Read your piece LA Times this a.m., then another in National Review.
Big, sweeping rhetorical claims and attendant slamming- mostly about progressives trajectory. Your type of policy wonk rap is common and toothless. Evidence specific? Not.
Easy to see why you’re just a fellow.
DeToqueville…read his work recently?

CRD

 

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader CRD,

I would like to offer you a coherent reply but your Angry Reader rant is unfortunately childish.

Please cite in detail “rhetorical claims” and “slamming,” rather than just emoting. What is “wonk rap”?  You ask for something called “evidence specific” but supply none. What is “not.” I don’t know what “just a fellow” means? I have read Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and The Old Regime and the Revolution; he is quite good on the impracticality of the Left and the dangerous extremism posed by radical democracy and impractical ranters and zealots.

Sincerely, VDH

 


02/21/17

From an Angry Reader:

Victor David Hanson’s latest rant, “Obama left the president with monstrous mess (2/17),” is in its unmitigated slam at our “last president” not the least bit surprising, both in its orientation as well as in its patent bias.   While it’s a fool’s errand to try to defend much of Obama’s efforts in foreign affairs, the notion that the present mess is Obama’s work alone is absurd.  It is widely recognized that the work of a dud named Bush, in his less than honest war making policies had a good bit to do with today’s mess.  Indeed, Hanson recognizes as much, but waits till his very last sentence (contrary to the title) to do so.  In the meantime, should Victor tire of Obama bashing, he might do a column on the domestic economy under O.  While it would be foolish to suggest that all’s super well on the domestic front, it is the case that Obama inherited a serious recession with an unemployment rate reaching 10% shortly after his inauguration, and which to today is significantly below 5 percent.  Alas, in keeping with his obvious right wing bias, I’m sure that Hanson will soon join Trump himself in claiming credit for the present state of the domestic economy.  Alas, it’s the blatant bias of folks like Hanson that helps create the deep hostility in so much of our politics.  Sad.

As ever, and in not surprising contempt, David E. Kaun

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader David E. Kaun,

Much of what you write is not just emotional ranting, but simply factually incorrect (Davis not David) and logically incoherent (e.g., much of Obama’s efforts in foreign affairs are not defensible, but the present mess is not his alone). When Obama entered office in January 2008, Iraq was quiet—so much so that Vice President Joe Biden termed it the administration’s likely greatest achievement and Obama boasted that he was leaving behind a “stable” and self-reliant” Iraq. Thus the administration apparently felt the nascent consensual government in Iraq was not the source but the antidote to Middle East instability—which magnified by the abrupt 2011 Obama pullout, the destruction of Libya, the fake redlines in Syria, the promotion of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the rise of “jayvee” ISIS, the “daylight” between Israel and the US, the failed “special relationship” with Turkey, the invitation to Putin to reinsert Russia into the Middle East, the Iran deal, and on and on.

I have written on Obama and the economy: sadly, he is the first president since Herbert Hoover not to achieve 3% per annum GDP growth; he doubled the debt to $20 trillion in just eight years, and left a near record labor non-participation rate. The recession he inherited from George W. Bush ended in June 2009, suggesting that had he not enacted his agenda, the economy would likely have naturally recovered and robustly in a way it did not for the next eight years.

I don’t think Trump or anyone wishes to “claim credit” for the present economy: despite near record deficits, near zero-interest rates, and massive new federal spending, the economy was never primed—largely because of new regulations, the ACA health mandates, higher taxes, and constant “you didn’t build that” attacks on private enterprise. I assume that explains why the Democratic “blue wall” crumbled in 2016 due to dissatisfaction among Democrats with the status quo.

Trump will either fail or succeed, but we will have to wait at least 4 years for the verdict. If Trump is culpable, I will write just that.

Again, the letter’s venom (“contempt”) is once again thematic of the leftist inability to debate without slurs. Very sad.

Sincerely, VDH


02/03/17

From an Angry Reader:

Re: Fake News: Postmodernism By Another Name

 While I thought the article was well written and cited several good specific examples. I find is a bit disingenuous that only the progressive movement is called out. Perhaps it would be worth mentioning the “Swift Boat” stories that were promulgated against John Kerry. The concept of fake news is used by both sides of the political spectrum for the purpose of “flash blinding” the masses in the middle to move them to be more in line with the agenda of the author of the false narrative. A story is created to convince the general audience that there is an “outrage” that must be addressed. One of the more recent was of a Muslim Arab immigrant who had four wives and 24 children living on welfare that amounted to more than $300,000 in cash per year. Now we have shut down immigration. If that was the goal of the “fake news”, to confuse the issue by fostering “outrage”, it seems to have worked.

 I agree with the point that “fake” news is also just poor journalism in many cases. But, I find the right is up to their ass in the BS, too. The supposed candid “video tape” of Planned Parenthood that turned out to be “lie”, because it was selectively edited to misrepresent the actual discussion, is an example. I don’t accept that this behavior is right or ethical from either side. But, it appears you have adopted a “well our shit doesn’t stink” approach in the article so we won’t talk about it. Sorry to say it, but in fact it does stink. My solution is to be skeptical of all news and especially anything that is intended to foment “outrage” in the readers/viewers. I felt pretty certain that your article was treading close to that “rage against the progressive media” and not really observant of the whole problem. The creators of this BS are seldom called on it from either side. With a wink they just go back and start working on the next false narrative. Back in the sixties they said “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” Today we can update that to, “Don’t trust anyone.”

 Fake news is designed to target a specific audience. Its goal is emotionalism and not about presenting objective facts. Your argument is that this is “acceptable” to the progressives. But, they hate it when is happens to them. So I don’t believe that they actually swallow the whole postmodernist meme you have described. Just like the right, when it is to their advantage they play around with the facts to “emotionalize” the issue and try to bury any objective rational discussion.

 Stay the course, no compromise. — Karl Rove

 Rick Barrett

 Reply from Victor Davis Hanson:

Dear Angry Reader Rick Barrett,

I don’t think you really read the article.

I mentioned that all politicians spin and distort, as is the nature of politics since the Athenian ekklêsia. But the media has a particular and partisan propensity to highlight “hands up, don’t shoot”-like fake news to advance the progressive media on the postmodern notion that the exalted ends justify any means necessary.

Your “Swift Boat” example I think makes my case; it is the bookend to the 2004 fake memos that Dan Rather peddled about George Bush’s supposed AWOL episode. The media promulgated Rather’s clearly false story; in contrast, it attacked the Swift Boaters, whose charges ranged from challenging Kerry’s recollections of his war service, his congressional testimony, and charges of American atrocities. While both attacks on the two presidential candidates were clearly political, the media promulgated one, but not the other, although the Swift Boaters had at least offered a few legitimate queries in a way not true of the clearly forged Bush documents.

The Planned Parenthood stealth tape was selectively edited, but no one has denied the general charge of organ trafficking caught on tape.

Faking narratives is as old as the Greeks (read Demosthenes), but what is different is that the mostly liberal media, by and large, choose far more often to traffic in stories like the Duke rape case, the Tawana Brawley hoax, “white Hispanic” George Zimmerman and his edited 911 tape, “mattress girl,” or the Virginia fake rape charge—on the notion that these mythologies are advancing social justice and therefore acquire a sort of truth regardless of facts, or lack of same.

And I further pointed out that the media’s fake narratives are the natural dividend of 30 years of academic postmodernist thought that insisted facts were mere narratives and had to be deconstructed on the basis of race, class, and gender privilege to assess their validity.

I don’t think the Left “hates” fake news at all or it would have cried foul about the Duke or Virginia cases; the mainstream media rarely concocts stories that advance conservative causes, so Leftists have little to be angry about other than an occasional outlier story that morphs into a crisis of “fake news.” In our world, Trump’s versions of “if you like your health plan, you can keep it” distortions become “fake news!”; a Time reporter’s false story of a missing Martin Luther King bust from the Oval Office is picked up and spreads because it “proves” that Trump has a racist agenda and that “fact” is deemed a good thing.

To sum up:

1) All politicians, as I wrote, spin and distort. So do all media outlets on occasion for political purposes.

2) But the great majority of the most common fake news involves race, class, and gender issues and are passed off as true because they are felt by the media to advance a higher truth that is not predicated on facts or data.

3) And such narratives gain traction because our universities have long taught that truth is a fiction and narratives are branded true or false depending on their currency of power—and thus the Left needs to invest in stories that advance social justice, even if the facts, as ascertained by arbitrary and privileged methods, do not support such narratives.

Two final points: why does the Left always resort to profanity? Your talk of excrement (“sh*t”) offers no enhancement to your argument.

And why do you (quis custodiet ipsos custodes?) peddle in fake news with falsehoods like. “Now we have shut down immigration”? How does a temporary ban on arrivals from seven war-torn countries of the Middle East and environs, affecting less than 1% of all immigrants, constitute “shutting down immigration.” Is that really true or a fake narrative that becomes “true” because its ends are deemed noble: demonizing Trump and his supporters as xenophobes.

Sincerely,

VDH


02/02/17

From an Angry Reader:

Dear Victor:

 I have long been a reader of your essays. I am befuddled by your steady defense – or at least by your stayed hand of criticism – of Donald Trump.

I sense – and share – your glee about the comeuppance that the Democrats received in this past election.

 But the rotted and soulless character of Donald Trump concerns me far, far more than any feelings of schadenfreude I feel about the Democrats. His degree of intellectual incuriosity is alarming.

 Your kid-glove approach to Trump (especially when those gloves are actually petting him) is surprising and disappointing.

 Thanks.

 Loren

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry (Sort of) Reader Loren Thacker,

Donald Trump was not my favorite in the primaries; but once he was likely to win the nomination (April 2016), I simply went to his website and collated his positions with Hillary Clinton’s on sanctuary cities, illegal immigration, defense, foreign policy, taxes, regulation, energy development, the EPA, the 2nd Amendment, the wall, school choice, and a host of other issues. The comparison supported my suspicions that he was more conservative and would not lose the Supreme Court for a generation to progressive massaging of the law, which was inevitable under Hillary Clinton. I think his appointments, Supreme Court pick, and executive orders have supported that belief that he is far more conservative than Hillary Clinton’s agendas. Oh, I came to another conclusion: I initially thought Trump might be the only nominee who would lose to Hillary Clinton; soon, however, I began to believe that he might be the only one who could beat her, given he was the first Republican to campaign in the Lee Atwater-style of 1988 and actually fought back against the WikiLeaks nexus of the media and Democratic Party.

As for his sometimes reckless tweets and outbursts, I calibrated three variables:

1) Were they any different from past presidents’? In fact, they were—but not to a degree that I thought his behavior endangered the republic. For all his antics at rallies, he did not yet say “punish our enemies” or urge his supporters to take a gun to a knife fight or to get in “their faces.” His silliness was similar to Joe Biden’s (“put you all in chains,” or his belief that FDR went on TV to the nation in 1929). Yes, I wish Trump was more sober and judicious, but then again we have had very unsober presidents and vice presidents in the past (LBJ showed the nation his surgery scars and reportedly exposed himself during a meeting). FDR carried on an affair while president. No need to mention JFK’s nocturnal romps. So far Trump is not using the Oval Office bathroom for trysts with subordinate interns. Much of Trump’s oafishness is media created and reflects a bit of class disdain. We all need, however, to watch every president and call out crudity when it occurs. (I am still not happy with the strained explanations of his jerky movements as not an affront to a disabled person.)

2) Did the media play a role in the demonization of Trump? I think it did. In the last few weeks we were told falsely that his lawyer went to Prague to cut a deal with the Russians, that he removed the bust of Martin Luther King from the Oval Office, and that he engaged in sexual debaucheries in Moscow—all absolutely not true. Who would trust the media after all that?

So much of the hysteria is driven by a furious media that was not so furious when Obama signed executive orders circumventing the law or the Clintons ran a veritable shake-down operation (where is it now?) at the Clinton Foundation. Not wanting to take refugees from Australia that had sent back to sea arriving migrants and had them deposited them in camps in nearby islands is not exactly an extreme position (by liberal standards, Australia is the illiberal actor, not Trump).

3) Do Trump’s episodic outbursts threaten his agendas? I don’t know, but the media will ensure that they will, if he is not more circumspect. So far he is by design creating chaos and has befuddled his opponents, but I think in the long run he must limit his exposure to gratuitous attacks by curbing his tweets—and I have written just that in the past. Trump’s agenda is fine; his pushback against an unhinged Left and biased media is healthy, but he must economize his outbursts given that the strategy of his opponents is to nick him daily in hopes of an aggregate bleed. We have four more years and he needs to conserve his strength and stamina and not get sidelined with spats with Merle Streep or Arnold at the Apprentice.

Remember, Obama was the revolution that sought to remake the country; the reaction to it is pushing the country back to the center—which appears now revolutionary. Trump’s stances on energy development, immigration, and foreign policy are not that much different from Bill Clinton’s or George H.W. Bush’s. They seem revolutionary because again he is correcting a revolution. Who had ever dreamed in 1995 of a sanctuary city, emulating the nullification policies of the Old Confederacy?

I appreciate your concern.Sincerely,

Victor Davis Hanson


01/19/17

From An Angry Reader:

The Angry Blogger

How to Be a Good Classicist Under a Bad Emperor,”

by Donna Zuckerberg, Silicon Valley-based Classics scholar, Editor of Eidolon, November 21, 2016

A specter is haunting the Internet — the specter of the “alt-right.” The forces of white supremacy and toxic masculinity, fueled by a sense of entitlement dwarfed only by their inflated estimation of their own intelligence, have entered into an unholy alliance to remove feminism, political correctness, and multiculturalism from America. And on November 8th, 2016, after enduring years of mockery, months of being told that the arc of the moral universe would never let it win, the Alt-Right scored its first significant political victory: the election of Donald Trump to the highest office of the most powerful country in the world.

Who are these people? They are part of a group of a few hundred thousand men who have “swallowed the red pill” and belong to a few allied online movements: not just the Alt-Right, but also men’s rights activists, the manosphere, and GamerGate. At times these groups seem more clearly defined by what they oppose than what they support, but they’ve also mobilized to fight for men’s rights in a “gynocentric” society, harass women on Twitter, and redefine Pepe the Frog. They are younger than the typical conservative establishment, white, and male. They are antisemitic, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic. Some are self-described Neo-Nazis.

They also love the classics.

This is at once surprising — most classicists I know consider themselves politically liberal — and not, because when we’re truly honest, we see that for many the study of Classics is the study of one elite white man after another. The same texts that are for us sources of beauty and brutality, subjects of commentary and critique, are for these men (and they really are almost exclusively men) proof of the intellectual and cultural superiority of white maleness.

The Alt-Right is hungry to learn more about the ancient world. It believes that the classics are integral to education. It is utterly convinced that classical antiquity is relevant to the world we live in today, a comfort to classicists who have spent decades worrying that the field may be sliding into irrelevance in the eyes of the public.

The next four years are going to be a very difficult time for many people. But if we’re not careful, it could be a dangerously easy time for those who study ancient Greece and Rome. Classics, supported by the worst men on the Internet, could experience a renaissance and be propelled to a position of ultimate prestige within the humanities during the Trump administration, as it was in Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Classics made great again.

This is my call to arms for all classicists. No matter how white and male Classics once was, we are not that anymore. In spite of the numerous obstacles that remain, our field is now more diverse than ever, and that is something to be proud of.

These men are positioning themselves as the defenders of Western Civilization. Classicists, when you see this rhetoric, fight back. We must not allow the Alt-Right to define what Classics will mean in Trump’s America.

Just how interested is the Alt-Right in Classics? On the one hand, it is very interested in the cultural capital of antiquity. An article published yesterday in the New York Times shows how freely they use classical references — “crossing the Rubicon,” “ascending to Olympus.” On the other, the movement appears to have little interest in understanding the ancient world in any way other than the most superficial one.

I know about this interest from personal experience — that is, from Twitter trolls and comments on Eidolon articles. (In a sublime manifestation of Red Pill iconography, one troll’s Facebook cover photo was a Photoshopped image from the Matrix with Hitler, not Neo, stopping a wall of bullets.) But rather than discuss anecdotes from my own experience, I’m going to share their declarations.

Steve Bannon, former Breitbart News executive chairman and newly appointed Chief Strategist to President-Elect Donald Trump, told Mother Jones this August that Breitbart is “the platform for the alt-right.” In recent weeks, Breitbart editors have backtracked on that claim, and they now argue that their site has only one piece of explicitly Alt-Right content: “An Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right” by Allum Bokhari and Milo Yiannopoulos (who, incidentally, was using the Twitter handle “@nero” when he was banned from the platform this summer). In that article, they write that the preservation of Western Culture is of monumental importance to the audiences for Alt-Right content:

[A]ttempts to scrub western history of its great figures are particularly galling to the alt-right, who in addition to the preservation of western culture, care deeply about heroes and heroic virtues. This follows decades in which left-wingers on campus sought to remove the study of “dead white males” from the focus of western history and literature curricula… to a natural conservative, such cultural vandalism may just be their highest priority.

Yiannopoulos — whose most recent work on Breitbart includes “How To Make Women Happy: Uninvent The Washing Machine And The Pill” — is drawing on a recurring theme in Red Pill Classics: these men will defend antiquity against the ravaging hordes of liberal activist students attempting to scrub the canon of all triggering material. In his book Thirty Seven, a manosphere writer who goes by the name Quintus Curtius imagines a dystopian world where feminists have rewritten the canon and erased the classics (143–4):

One can even imagine a future where classical knowledge will be driven underground, purged from schools, or bowdlerized, as not being in tune with modern feminism and political correctness. The degradation of humanistic learning has come as a direct result of the feminization of American society. We cannot permit this to happen. The commissars of modern culture don’t want you to know too much about history, or about how things were like in previous eras.

Predictably, Quintus Curtius has an extremely limited understanding of “how things were like in previous eras.” His stated goal is “to remind readers of the glories of leadership, character, and masculine virtue that can change their lives” — so of course, his understanding of antiquity is of a world inhabited by only a few extremely elite men. He has no sense of or interest in social history, cultural history, women, slaves, children, and broad historical trends. The ancient world is reduced to a textbook model for leadership, character, and masculine virtue.

Unfortunately, I have met a few professional classicists who would prefer that the entire discipline embraced the model Quintus Curtius espouses for “classical knowledge.” Victor Davis Hanson explicitly trumpeted the same views in Who Killed Homer: “This new, ultrasensitive curriculum and its appendages — diversity training, journal writing, gender and racial sensitivity, multiculturalism, situational ethics, personal growth and self-indulgence, and the politics of commitment — ran directly counter to Greek wisdom” (118). For all that he is beloved by the Right, most classicists have little time for VDH these days — but many nevertheless agree, quietly, that as a field we’ve lost something in our increasing focus on race, class and gender in the ancient world. Our field is still, in many ways, in thrall to the Great Men model of history. And others may disagree, but still feel that Daryush “Roosh V” Valizadeh has a point when he writes of the moral vacuum that would exist without an understanding of historical precedent in his article “What is a Social Justice Warrior (SJW)?” …

 

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Blogger Donna Zuckerberg,

I have never heard either of Eidolon or of you until this was sent to me. So excuse the tardy reply.

I took the liberty of excerpting a relevant portion from your longer and rather monotonous rambling. Is your self-identification as a “Silicon Valley-based Classics scholar” to remind us that you may well be the sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, the third or so richest man in the United States? While I have criticized him in print on occasions—exclusively for disparaging the need to enforce immigration laws and specifically the construction of a fence/wall at the southern border, while also seeking to fence in, or otherwise use his security details and capital to privilege his own residences with various borders, walls, or guards—nonetheless, I have no personal animus toward him or you, and admire anyone who can provide a useful product for the enjoyment and advantage of over a billion consumers.

If you are indeed related, I hope you can apply some of those boundless resources to promoting classics—first—and professionally—to advocate for freshly minted PhDs and help them find jobs that offer financial sustenance and some dignity without the humiliations of poverty and exploitation that so often are the wages of young classics scholars in part-time and lecturer positions, and second—and more broadly—to introduce the teaching of Greek and Latin to non-traditional communities, minorities, impoverished whites, the underclass, and the middle classes in general.

You talk breezily of being on the classics barricades in “Trump’s America” and seem to suggest an interest in promoting classics. A more pressing worry then might be why did so many who were destitute and without avenues of upward mobility vote for a multi-billionaire New York grandee? If you could ponder that incongruity, I think you might get closer to the central problem of an unsustainable contemporary classics—namely that people such as yourself (fairly or not) do not resonate with the less fortunate, who do not share your privilege and see elite classicists (admittedly, perhaps unfairly) as reflective of dilettantism. They are the logical constituents of any project to expand classics. I wish you well if that is your interest.

I spent over two decades of my life, teaching 8 to 10 semester classes per year, trying at CSU, Fresno to introduce Greek and Latin to those without opportunities or much hope of upward mobility; we were not in “thrall to the Great Men model of history,” but rather to improving the linguistic, grammatical, and composition skills of first-generation college students as part of a larger appreciation of the beauty and power of Latin and Greek. And yet again I confess we were also pragmatists, with idealist hopes of preparing mostly poor, white, Hispanic, and Southeast Asian students to compete in the wider world with those who had had the benefits of traditional education that so often only capital and influence can ensure. I think we called that in Who Killed Homer? “academic populism,” an admittedly failed attempt to redirect the field towards undergraduate teaching and broadening the scope of research to ensure it was accessible to non-traditional audiences.

So why not lobby for or indeed fund a position or two in Latin instruction at Cal State Bakersfield or at Turlock or Merced? I am sure with good teaching and empathy toward non-traditional students, the investment would help the field in a more cost-effective manner than in regurgitating tired and redundant race/class/gender angsts of a tiny elite. I think the effort would surprise you and pay real dividends.

As for your more specific cast-off criticisms. I am included in your strange rant against something called the “alt-Right”—a term that has no real meaning other to conjure up all sorts of race/class/gender bogeymen. It seems to me analogous to something the Right calls the “alt-Left,” a purported motley group of social justice warriors of the Michael Moore stamp. Such labels on either side mean nothing. I live in the same house where I was born, in the poorest section of California where the minority population elsewhere is the vast majority here. I put all my children in the public schools, have an extended multiracial family, and farmed and worked side by side with people for over thirty years who never finished high school. The idea that I would be associated with a racially exclusive group or wish to exclude groups in my research is absurd and little more than Silicon Valley or faculty lounge talk.

More to the point, it is obvious you have never read at all Who Killed Homer? We discussed at length the unusual Hellenic focus on women, from the Antigone to Sappho to powerful females in Euripides’ plays and the morally superior heroines that inhabit classical literature from Homer to Plutarch. We discussed at length poverty, slavery, and the so-called Other, but not from the position of cheap 20-century elite disdain that indicts an ancient, rural, and impoverished people for not living up to our sophisticated standards of probity some 2,400 years later. Tragedy, not melodrama, is the proper mindset to explore the contradictions of the classical world.

Your cookie-cutter take on the culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s is, I must confess, puerile. Deconstruction, Foucault, Derrida, Black Athena, the gender obsession movement—all that prevailed and is now, as we predicted, the status quo—with disastrous results for undergraduate enrollments. It is surely not some edgy dangerous way of looking at the world—as young PhD students accept when they chart the parameters of their own careers. The outsider, the revolutionary, the insurrectionist is the young scholar without a job or tenure who dares to see universal liberal and positive truths in the classical achievement and hopes to become a superb Greek 1A teacher and is not shy of voicing those aspirations. I fear for those who try, because their futures are nonexistent in the field and as back-up they do not have access to the privileges which you and many in Silicon Valley enjoy.

To take one example, Camille Paglia nearly thirty years ago made headlines not because she was some sort of right-wing traditionalist, but because as a Leftist feminist, she saw a disturbing new sort of classicist, who, ignorant of what she thought were the great works of the past—Nietzsche, Marx, Freud, etc.—were narrowly trained and often poorly so, and were utterly careerist (“Junk-bond” traders and salesmen, she called them), whose jargon-ridden, opaquely written work brought few real insights to oppression and victimology, but served in cult-like fashion to launch careers that valued conferences, release time, grants, and esoterica at the expense of teaching an increasingly poorly educated generation the value, tragedy, paradoxes, and exceptional beauty of classical literature. You can read an account of the crisis in classics in the recent survey by Prof. Eric Alder who is often critical of Who Killed Homer?, but in disinterested fashion lays out the arguments of the book as he sees them in explaining why it often evoked such furor in the field.

Your essay is also quite sloppy: “Victor Davis Hanson explicitly trumpeted the same views in Who Killed Homer?”. Where to begin with such nonsense? First, Victor Davis Hanson co-authored Who Killed Homer? with John Heath. I did not write anything myself; it was a 50/50 effort. Why did you single out one author and not another, if not to find some easy contemporary political resonance?

We did just the opposite from your notion that we were ignoring cultural history, women, slaves, and broad historical trends. Instead by intent we focused upon them, noting both bias, oppression, and prejudice among the Greeks and Romans, but also the irony, tragedy, and paradoxes of Greek liberal values that clashed with traditional and often rural inspired norms—suggesting that the plight of women, slaves, and the underclass was under discussion in classical culture in a way not true of the wider Mediterranean, or in fact anywhere else at that time (or at any time later). Well over two decades ago in The Other Greeks I wrote of the culture of the agrarian mesoi and their creation of the polis, often in the context of class and slavery; that book had nothing to do with the “Great Man” platitudes you refer to. I wrote a novel, The End of Sparta, whose two heroes are a slave and a young woman, who are the moral superiors of all the men in the book, a fictional account of Epaminondas’s liberation of the Messenian helots. Reciting boilerplate phobias without nuance or context is virtue-signaling at best, at worse a window into an impoverished mind.

Unfortunately, you cannot seem to get things right even when offering a cast-off line about my career: “For all that he is beloved by the Right, most classicists have little time for VDH these days .” I am not “beloved” by the “Right;” I often have as many detractors there as among the Left. And I don’t believe classicists ever had any “time” for me, so I am confused about your qualifier “these days.”

All “these days” have been about the same.

Sincerely,

Victor Davis Hanson, San Joaquin-Valley-based Classics scholar

 


01/17/16

From an Angry Reader:

Hey Vic.

 You seem like a smart enough guy, but this silly piece was a waste of space, just a mashup of this-and-that criticisms with seemingly nothing coherent to tie it all together, other than your apparent involvement. I’m surprised you would expand so much time and energy on this kind of angry, seemingly unattributed rant. Maybe you wanted to feed your loyal base of readers? Do you suspect that they got a little erect fantasizing that this was all real?

 Yes, Selma (the “Raisin Capital Of The World”) is technically a part of California, and of course the reality of our fine state is different for those of us who live on the coast than for those who live in that swath of yes-it’s-also-California that lies east of I-5. You wrote so many words, and yet you have identified nothing new or particularly informative.

 Who was your source of your crime stats? PPIC? Did you refer to the attached? If so, context would be helpful. Like when PPIC noted that, “While historically low, California’s violent crime rate saw an uptick in 2015”. Of course this helps to paint a fuller picture than you did, but maybe that wasn’t your objective.

 The entire middle of your piece – ramblings about waste water, plastic bags, bike thieves, the DMV (?!?!) – perhaps your stories are true, and perhaps they were just fiction conjured up to substantiate your narrative. As you know, in today’s political environment where ‘fact’ is a fungible concept possibly devised by some amorphous liberal elite, a good story is often what the uninformed masses (e.g. Trump voters, possibly your friends and neighbors) really want.

 Lots of trash littering the roads in your area? Stop and pick it up. A little extra exercise is never a bad thing.

 And your comment about U-Haul is doubly incorrect: more trailers are coming in than out; and the rate was decidedly negative in 02/03, when so many were willing to leave this natural paradise. Can I assume that you will update your story and note the corrections?

 Grass Valley is hip? Do you really believe that? Maybe as compared to Selma (never been there, but I rarely drive the 99, unless I miss the turnoff as I’m driving up I-5 from LA), but it isn’t ‘hip’ to those of us who know better.

 Regarding your struggles sending and receiving actual terrestrial mail, I didn’t realize that people still practice that ancient art. I don’t relate to your experience, but it’s apparently something that is irksome to you folk. For that, I’m truly sorry.

 As for your closing quip – “Most of the most strident Californians who decry Trump’s various proposed walls insist on them for their own residences” – is this in reference to something specific (like facts, for example), or just something that sounded witty when you worked it up in your head?

 Kevin Saavedra

 

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Hey, Dear Angry, Sarcastic Reader Kev Saavedra,

Unfortunately your letter does not suggest that you are a smart guy at all, but rather apparently saw yourself in the essay and grew quite emotional that the mirror image captured an undeniable reality, one that apparently bothered you in its all-too-true accuracy. In fact, of all the angry letters I have received (thousands over the years, including the obscene, the death threat sort, the bombastic promises to “get” me, the monotonous obscenities, the self-referential, the demands of the angry to be heard, to meet, to talk, etc.) yours is the most smug and banal, reminding us all that ignorance and arrogance remain a sad combination.

The Romans had a phrase res ipsa loquitur; before it became a legal term under Roman law, it meant literally “the thing speaks for itself.” So does your own self-revealing and inadvertently self-confessional letter.

You write to challenge my portrait of a dysfunctional California, one of a premodern interior and a smug postmodern coastal strip, which acts in an elitist fashion and whose grandees are never subject to the consequences of their own ideologies.

And yet your very tone and sarcasm (e.g., “Raisin Capital of the World,” “technically in California,” “yes-it’s-also-California that lies east of I-5,” “Maybe as compared to Selma,” “Regarding your struggles sending and receiving actual terrestrial mail, I didn’t realize that people still practice that ancient art”) speaks for itself and proves my case: I suggested that a coastal elite is arrogant, out of touch, and never subject to the consequences of their abstract utopian dreams. You do not refute that portrait, but instead confirm that stereotype with your self-incriminating snarky “the uninformed masses” and “Trump voters, possibly your friends and neighbors.”

Kevin, is there some sort of central casting enclave where your sorts emerge to play out the roles of self-important coastal wannabes?

A theme of the Angry Reader section is that Leftists like yourself always express their angst through smears and obscenity. But how does bathroom talk like “a little erect” add to your argument?

I think in fact I describe a world that is a world away from enclaves on the California coast. When was the last time you discovered a corpse on your property or an occasional pit bull or Queensland heeler dumped in your alleyway with a rope around its neck, and its innards torn apart from dog fighting?

I refer to all sorts of statistics; the California Police Chiefs regularly weigh in on the crime spike we are currently experiencing; cf. their latest announcement on a dramatic rise. Do you really wish to cite statistics that 2015 saw a decrease in crime? Please do. What do you think the percentage of accidents is in LA County that are categorized as hit-and-run?

All my “stories” are not “stories” but banalities that everyone experiences in rural California between I-5 and the Sierra. I selected the mild examples from a few days of normality. If it is not someone dumping solvents in your vineyard, it is another person dumping his daily canteen wastewater. I get letters often from Californians to the effect “Ah that’s nothing, you should see the washing machine and frig dumped on my driveway.”

When you say “Lots of trash littering the roads in your area? Stop and pick it up. A little extra exercise is never a bad thing,” you reveal your idiocy. We all pick up trash daily, but sometimes we are talking tons of it—literally. See below the picture of what ended up in my cousin’s vine row, everything from solvents to broken fluorescent tubes. It took a huge flatbed several trips to dispose of what we could. The thousands of shards of broken glass are still in the soil.

How does one “stop and pick up” a dead cow or a huge rotten pit bull or fifty used diapers scattered throughout a vine row? Have your tried? Often the polluters simply act as unlawful garbage collectors from rural and illegal trailers and shacks, and then dump their day’s loads in orchards and vineyards—all quite profitable. You need to get a life and explore the world that you seem to think ends at I-5.

Have you gone to a U-haul trailer renter dealer lately? Obviously not. Try comparing one-way rates to Texas versus back to California, and your ignorance will become manifest if you are not laughed out of the dealership. Have you turned on your tap water to find it empty—given that the copper wire to the submersible pump was yanked out the night before?

The Wall Street Journal reported 100,000 fewer Californians came into our state than left last year—a staggering statistic given that mostly the arrivals are poorer and the departing are middle and upper class—so much that we are down to about 170,000 taxpayers (out of 40 million residents) who pay well over 50% all income tax revenue. Why would Californians leave paradise and seek out desolate landscapes if not for the fact that we are wrecking paradise and making the antithesis more inviting to millions?

As for as “terrestrial mail,” I supposed the coast has come up with a way to virtually mail a package? Yes, I still mail books and packages and to special friends still write out longhand personal letters, in what used to be called “cursive,” as well as mail tax estimate payments to the U.S. IRS by U.S. mail. Does Amazon now email shoes or fax tools or text chain saws; I’ve bought all three lately from Amazon, and for some reason they all were mailed to me via “terrestrial mail.” Please advise the readership how such deliveries avoid terrestrial mailing.

Yes, Grass Valley is a wonderful foothill community, but it is not Dunlap or Prather but something more attuned to Saratoga or St. Helena.

As for walls: do you wish specificity?

OK: Barack Obama has caricatured the need for a border wall: yet he is just adding one to his compound in D.C. that is a vintage mansion that never had such an enclosure. (See Hillary’s estate from Google Earth). Mayor Villaraigosa considered “the wall” superfluous; yet as mayor he was the first to build one around the official LA mayoral residence—to the consternation of his neighbors. Mark Zuckerberg, a loud opponent of strict border enforcement and walls on the border, is currently in three controversies: one, over objections he is walling off much of his property in Hawaii; two, complaints arise over his security details in San Francisco that seem to monopolize parking and reflect his sense of entitlement (and reliance on strict enforcement of what he thinks are necessary laws); and in Palo Alto he is still fighting the city for seeking to bypass city ordinances about lot/home size that discourage estates and apply to all others except apparently himself. The list is really endless. Perhaps spend an afternoon on the PCH in Malibu. Start at Pepperdine University and head west to scan the homes of the Hollywood and entertainment elite who are all adamantly against border fencing. Two realities arise: one, almost all the estates are enclosed or walled; two, the laborers who are working in their liberal gardens and kitchens are all from Mexico or Central America.

In conclusion, your letter has value; it reminds us that the coastal mindset is always more clueless and sanctimonious than most of us in the interior imagined. I enclose past photos of the sort of things that pile up around our homes and roads in the Central Valley along with my pump ruined with assorted damage—all for a gang banger’s $60 in copper wire.

Sincerely, Vic Hanson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


From An Angry Reader:

Victor

 Your gloating and myopic column pillorying President Obama’s foreign policy legacy was simple minded and juvenile. Why write something so stupidly one sided?????

 When Obama came into office we were losing 100 service people per month in a stupid war and as he leaves office, this number is down to one or two. This is a great result and legacy.

 He worked with Iraqi leaders to build an Army capable of retaking Mosul … and also improved cooperation between the different militias there. You didn’t mention this.

 Real experts on Iran are touting the multi-lateral agreement closing down Iran’s ability to produce nuclear material and weapons….they say this agreement will give legitimacy to a country that simply wants to be a player in the middle east and whose impact result in greater stability in this area.

 Under Obama we have not committed troops in the Syrian conflict …. one so complex and far from our national interest that this merits praise.

 He has also been allowing the CIA to conduct covert operations to stabilize Ukraine and punish the Russians for Crimea.

 Why be so unnecessarily one sided that you come off as just another right-wing ass?

 John G. Schuiteman, Ph.D.

Ashland, VA 23005

 

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Schuiteman,

It is angry letters like yours that seem to sow dissension since you are, I fear, at times intellectually dishonest.

I never wrote or implied the description “simple minded” or “juvenile”; Obama certainly has a vision and sought to implement it—one gleaned from his memoirs, his past associations, his apology tour, his Cairo speech, his various interviews, and his actions.

I was not “gloating” or “myopic” but rather factual in describing an Obama legacy—reset with Putin, abrupt withdrawal in late 2011 from a quiet Iraq, the Libya/Benghazi violence, the Iran deal, the Syrian calamity, estrangement from Israel, outreach to Cuba—that even in the eyes of many Democratic observers has not worked, at least from the view of enhancing global and U.S. security. But from Obama’s standpoint of scaling down U.S. influence, it has been a smashing success.

You are not factual in your letter. Obama came into office on January 2009; the fatality rate in Iraq that month was 16 deaths—not “100.” By December of 2009 it was 3 a month—less than the monthly accident rate in the U.S. military. No wonder Biden (who flipped on the war and, when a presidential candidate, opposed it) suddenly called the quiet in Iraq possibly the administration’s “greatest achievement.” By December 2010, 1 soldier had died that month, and when Obama finished pulling out in December 2011 (as he praised Iraq’s stability) it was 0 deaths. That decision was perhaps analogous to a hypothetical Eisenhower in late 1955 up for reelection like Obama, promising to get out of the Korean War that he did not “start,” and therefore yanking all U.S. troops out by election day 1956 from a relatively quiet Korea. What would Seoul look like today—something akin to Mosul or Baghdad?

Again, when Obama pulled all U.S. troops out there were 0 fatalities in December 2011. That ensuing vacuum resurrected radical Sunni Islamic terrorists under the new ISIS imprimatur, brought in Iran, collapsed Iraq, was a catalyst of the destruction of Syria, and 500,000 dead—and promoted now a steady reinsertion of U.S. troops.

Are you now bragging that, after yanking all troops out of a quiet Iraq as a good thing, it was a better thing that he put some back in to stabilize a now violent Iraq?

You become completely myopic when you write that Iran “simply wants to be a player in the middle east (sic) and whose impact result (sic) in greater stability in this area.”

Iran has little actual need for a nuclear program, given its vast fossil fuels reserves, but a great need if it wishes to acquire a bomb and to spread its influence throughout the region and expand its Shiite/Iranian/Assad/Hezbollah arc. If the deal is not overturned, a rich and influential Iran will set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, if it has not already. If the deal was transparent, why did we send cash at night on a pallet to the Iranians? Has their anti-Western rhetoric or action scaled down after the agreement? Are they working for peace in Syria? Reaching out to Israel? Praising Obama for his compromise? Respecting ships in the Gulf?

Iran’s terrorism has been evident worldwide. There is no stability “in this area.” Obama’s Iran deal has had one good result: it created a new alliance between moderate Sunni regimes, such as Jordan, Egypt, and some Gulf states, and Israel, whose mutual fears of a nuclear Iran and the American-sponsored deal have brought them together.

Yes, we did not commit troops into Syria nor send aid to an ephemeral anti-Assad, anti-ISIS opposition, but we did threaten military action if WMDs were used (Obama’s “redline”); when they were used and we did nothing, we all but invited the Russians in for the first time since they were expelled by the Egyptians over 40 years ago. Our failure to provide aid to non-ISIS groups, or to create sanctuaries for refugees in the Syrian hinterland helped spur mass death and mass migrations to Europe —which may well be the straw that breaks the back of the European Union.

I would not bring up “punishments” for Ukraine and Crimea, which I do not think registered much with Putin. Obama’s own supporters have criticized his strange passive-aggressive reset with Putin, in which after empowering him (the silly plastic reset button, cancelling missile defense with the Poles and Czechs, trashing Bush’s readjustment to Putin over Ossetia, the open mic post-election promises to be “flexible,” the pass given years of Russian cyber attacks, the attack on Romney’s warning about Putin, etc.), Obama then ridiculed Putin in puerile fashion (class cut up, into macho displays for domestic consumption). Sadly talking trash and carrying a twig is a bad combination; yet we see just that mixture again with his most recent threats to China over stealing a drone, and his promises to hit back at Putin’s alleged cyber crimes. I fear they both will either laugh or cry at our braggadocio.

Obama has set a precedent: you can with impunity swallow whole countries, build artificial island bases, take U.S. ships or drones, hack government agencies, but don’t ever be even accused of hacking in a manner that in theory could hurt a liberal candidate—this for Obama is tantamount to a cause for war.

Victor D. Hanson, Ph.D.

Selma CA 93662


From an Angry Reader:

Re: Obama’s initiatives

What a horrible president and yet, 57% approval rating! Wow! How is that possible! I think he did quite well considering that Republicans vowed on the first day not to work with him and never did!

 Connie Knapp

 

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Connie Knapp,

Irony noted.

Obama, I think as of this weekend had a 53% approval according to the realclearpolitics.com average. But in just a year, yes, he has jumped 10 points. Why?

No one quite knows, but I will suggest 5 reasons:

1) Obama understood that he was unpopular in the flesh and popular in the abstract. So when the primaries started in early 2016 he simply disengaged and we rarely saw or heard him much, as two unpopular candidates, Trump and Clinton, by mid-summer were sliming each other and driving their approval ratings down and in contrast and by default the absent Obama’s up. Seeing Obama wave from the links is one thing, having him lecture that “you didn’t build that” or “punish our enemies” is another.

2) He is now a lame duck, and again the reality of a soon to be gone Obama made him popular in a way that an eight-year long tenure of Obama left him unpopular. The popularity of houseguests rises in the hours of their departure.

3) He has bailed on offering the hard medicine to treat the $10 trillion in additional debt he ran up, or to deal with the implosion of Syria, Iraq, and Libya on his watch, or his failed Russian reset, or the looming disaster of Obamacare. Instead his attitude is more or less “stuff happens” as he exits the door to a lucrative post-presidency, and welcomes others to deal with de facto zero interest rates, sluggish growth, record labor non-particiaption, crises in racial relations, etc. It is easy to lose deterrence, but dangerous and hard to regain it—as we shall soon see.

4) The media has sanctified Obama in the manner it has demonized Trump.

5) We do not yet know what the ultimate approval rating of Obama will be; it may stay strong or gyrate. Truman left with 25% approval and yet his administration is now considered a success.

As for your assertion, “I think he did quite well considering that Republicans vowed on the first day not to work with him and never did!”, it was irrelevant what the Republicans said or thought, because Obama entered office with both the House and a super-majority in the Senate.

He rammed budgets and Obamacare through without a single Republican vote. When Obama lost the House and his supermajority in the Senate, Harry Reid simply adopted the nuclear option and ended most filibusters (to the regret now of Democrats).

When he lost the Senate as well, Obama turned to “pen and phone” executive orders and simply ignored Constitutional give and take and bypassed the Congress (amnesties, non-immigration enforcement, EPA fiats, picking and choosing which part of Obamacare he enforced, etc.)—again to the chagrin of Democrats who now fear that Trump might do what Obama did with executive orders.

We forget the alphabet scandals of the last eight years: Lois Lerner and IRS, the NSA mess, the GSA boondoggles, the horrific record at the VA, the crazy EPA director and her fake email persona and the EPA’s unconstitutional fiats, the Wikileaks/Hillary emails/Clinton Foundation pay for play at the State Department, the abrupt departure of Hilda Solis at Labor, the strange career and departure of Petraeus at the CIA, the Sibelius firing at HHS after the surreal startup of Obamacare, and on and on and on.

Obama entered with record good will, both houses of Congress, an upswing in the states, and a likely chance to alter the Supreme Court; he leaves with the strongest Republican position in 100 years, from governorships and state legislatures to the Congress and presidency. The Supreme Court could soon tilt 6-3 or 7-2.

Such was the epitaph to “hope and change”—the greatest gift to the Republican Party in a century.

Sincerely, VDH

 


From an Angry Reader:

I love the Angry Reader section of your website, particularly your responses. I want to be an Angry Reader and see what you have to say about my valid, thoughtful points so here goes.

How can anyone support Donald Trump (I call him DT because he gives me the dt’s, heh, heh)???

He’s a racist. Look at his cabinet appointments. All white people except token minority Cho and she’s not even Black, Hispanic or Muslim. Carson doesn’t count because he’s an UNCLE TOM.

He’s a masoginist (or whatever it is) because he hates women. Look at his cabinet appointments. All men except token woman Cho. She’s a professional token having been one in a previous REPUBLICIAN ADMINISTRATION a few years ago.

He disrespects the Main Stream Media by using his tweets to go around them and get directly to the PEOPLE. This must be a violation of the 1st Amendment, at a minimum it’s certainly in POOR TASTE!!!

He’s not fit to be President because Obama and Clinton both said so. The New York Times too, I think.

Finally, f{^>\**¥+€ you and the horse you ride on and all other Castro lovers too!!!

I rest my case and await your smarty pants response.

Anonymous

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Really Angry Anonymous Reader,

I think your letter is satire and not serious. But in fairness I’ll answer nonetheless. Even satire has to have some originality; your “DT”/“racist” tropes are not even remotely funny. The shouting capital letters resemble most of the style of our angry readers, so you are either likewise deluded or a bad satirist.

What does “count” mean? Does one count as a minority if he fits some liberal ideology, usually established by an elite whose life does not even remotely match his rhetoric? I was trying to figure out the etymology of your neologism masoginist, but I plead I cannot think up any remote roots other than Greek mastos (breast) or Latin massa (lump) that would give me a clue. Sorry on that.

What is a Republician? Analogous to a conservative physician?

So you are a Trump supporter after all in your (poor) satire about tweeting and the 1st Amendment? Is that confirmed with your digs at Obama and Clinton and The New York Times? And maybe even further confirmed with the obscenity and “Castro lovers”?

I don’t offer “smarty pants” responses to angry readers, but try to take them seriously, more seriously I think than they deserve.

Bottom line: if you are serious, the angry reader letter rates a D-. If you are a Trump supporter, the satire earns a C-. If you are disturbed, then I forgive and pray for your recovery.

Sincerely, VDH


From an Angry Reader:

Clinton lost because of Republican voter suppression, Comey and Russian hacking. Trump is the establishment. He Pence and his appointments will cripple America for years. You should remove your head from Trumps ass. People like you are the problem.

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Repeat Angry Reader Raye Harper,

You cite 3 reasons for Hillary’s electoral loss: 1) yet there is no evidence of voter suppression. The Pew Foundation in 2012 suggested that voter registration is unsupervised and leads to voter fraud. Their drift was probably not focused on golf course-Republicans. The President assured Latinos that there would be no scrutiny of immigration status connected with voting; again, his subtle subtext was not election reassurance to the VFW or NRA to not worry about coming out in force at the polls.

2) Comey was a neutron bomb who radiated everyone: most dramatically acting improperly as a federal attorney in stating Hillary should not be prosecuted, then again improperly that she might be, then again improperly that she wouldn’t be—all predicated on his perceptions of his own political viability and keeping his job amid rising anger in his ranks. Two of the three times, he gave her a favorable nod—but never should have given a single press conference in the first place. AG Loretta Lynch prejudiced her position by meeting stealthily with Bill Clinton, and in response she outsourced Hillary’s case improperly to Comey, who was an investigator, not a prosecutor who weighs investigatory evidence. He should be fired for malpractice.

3) As far as Russian hacking: we have as yet no proof who hacked what. But so far no one has questioned the authenticity of the hacked materials. If Clinton, Inc. had not engaged in surreal machinations like attempts to leverage Haitian relief, or ridiculed Latinos, Catholics, or blacks, or outlined to donors pay for play rules, or not had a stable of fake journalists who weighed in with everything from leaking debate questions to requests for free anti-Trump research, the leaks would have been irrelevant, or merely embarrassing like Colin Powell’s emails, but not incriminating.

Of course, Trump is part of the establishment. That is a banal statement. The mystery is how he appealed to those who are not the establishment that he was their anti-establishment paladin. No candidate in American history has won the presidency without prior political or military experience. He destroyed 16 fine primary candidates, the Bush, Clinton, and Obama dynasties, and brought with him a Republican tsunami—all without much spending, ground game, ads, or political help from the establishment. You need to study how that happened rather than bark at the moon that it did.

We have no exact idea about what the Trump appointments will do; I doubt a Jim Mattis at Defense will cripple anyone other than our enemies. I hope you were as worried about the actual circumstances of so many of Mr. Obama’s departing (and mostly discredited and shamed) appointees at the VA, HHS, NSA, IRS, FBI, EPA, CIA, Labor, Justice, etc. as you are about hypotheticals. Using fake email names at the EPA, screwing up the ACA website and delivery, leaving veterans without adequate care, using tax returns as political leverage or allowing the Secret Service to become Keystone Cops are not small things.

Why the vulgarity? I’m not the problem. If I were, my absence would remedy the problem. Unfortunately America’s dilemma is far more fundamental, in part reflected by a certain sort of zealot, who in rage writes profanity to strangers, rants banalities, and apparently believes that his vulgarity can substitute for an idea. Sadly, it just cannot.

Sincerely, VDH


From an Angry Reader:

Hello Mr Hanson. I read your articles on Townhall.com and have a question on something you wrote in Enemies Of Language. In your article you refer to Nazi Germany as having been “right wing.” This is a question that I have been wanting to pose so many times when reading articles or viewing documentaries on TV. What was it about Nazi government policies in Germany that made it “right wing” rather than left? It seems to me that Nazism was a politically left ideology due to big government control of everything such as industry, one party rule, censorship, anti religion, etc. What are the things you believe made it right wing?

 Rick Bush

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Not So Angry Reader Rick Bush,

Thank you for your reasoned inquiry. I addressed some of this in a prior response to a genuinely angry reader.

National Socialism was an odd hybrid, reflecting both the adjective National and the noun Socialism. In Hitler’s view, socialism in the German context meant more or less what it implied: anti-capitalist screeds, lots of entitlements and government services, infrastructure building, deals for like-sounding corrupt cronies, and government supervised education, recreation, environmentalism, and employment.

But Nazi economics were not so all-inclusive socialist as communism, given that crony capitalists were given concessions to profit and promises from Hitler et al. that they would be free of union strikes and popular pushback. Average Germans for the large part kept their property. There were no confiscations of private wealth on a mass scale other than the nightmarish hounding of Jews and political opponents—unlike the Soviet Union that collectivized almost everything (of course with exceptions for a privileged elite).

But the key was again “National.” Unlike communism and prior universal socialism, Nazism had no claim on universalism: it never sought to unite the workers of the world or to create a socialist global utopia.

Rather, it unapologetically believed that Germans, as Aryans, were a superior race. Like the nationalist and socialist ancient Spartans, there would be mandated privileged equality among most Germans, but based on cruel exploitation of a vast cast of inferiors below.

If socialism is a crackpot dream that the workers of the world will unite across race and geography against universal capitalist exploiters, unhinged National Socialism meant that pure Germans would advance a Third Reich, promoting arms, patriotism, bizarre mythologies about a past supposedly untainted from the very beginning by decadent Romanism, puffed-up fantastical Nordic religion, and a national creed of patriotic, well-armed, and mostly superior people who would naturally excel over lesser others if united by an anti-democratic single tyrant.

In short, I think Hitler and his predecessors were somewhat accurate in calling this hybrid movement of socialism at home and nationalism abroad Nationalsozialismus, and so we are mostly right in calling Nazism, as outsiders in World War II, who had to deal with its foreign policy, as “right-wing,” at least in comparison to Stalin’s left-wing version of mass extermination.

To be pedantic I might have instead better have referred to right-left wing Nazi Germany and a left-right wing Soviet Union, given that the latter was likewise unfree, highly patriotic, militaristic, and followed the cult of a caudillo—along with being a share-the-poverty and hating capitalism dictatorship. Stalin once admired Hitler and vice versa; they saw each other as somewhat similar, especially their shared barbaric means to an end. The difference perhaps ultimately was one of relative degree: Hitler to his enemies was more right-wing, dictatorial and militaristic than socialist, and Stalin was more ruthlessly communist than other right-wing autocrats.

—Victor Davis Hanson


From an Angry Reader:

The new kind of Republican party is part 1930’s Nazi and 1950’s Dixiecrat.

Raye Harper

——————————

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Raye Harper,

Since you assert rather than argue or explain, it is hard to fathom what you are getting at. But in the spirit of the Angry Reader, I’ll give it a shot.

There is a reason why etymology is a valuable pursuit. Seek the root meaning of words and thereby learn. Our English word Nazism derives as an English transliterated abbreviation for the German Nationalsozialismus (“National Socialism”)—Hitler’s effort to combine fanatical nationalism with socialist and anti-capitalist principles.

Take also your “Dixiecrat” (which incidentally was a one-time phenomenon of the election of 1948, and did not reappear as you suggest in the “1950s.”) Note the suffix “-crat” (Greek, kratos, “power/rule”). It was so named in 1948 because it was a derivative of the Democratic Party. It was not called the Dixiepublicans because it had no similarities to the Republican Party.

Ironically, Dixiecrats’ official name (“The States’ Rights Democratic Party”) reflected and championed the idea of federal nullification (in this case school integration), which had been the source of the 1828 (in this case tariffs) and 1860 (in this case slavery) secessionist fervors. How odd, then, that 300 liberal jurisdictions currently are now “Sanctuary Cities” (perhaps better described as “Nullification Cities”) that defy federal immigration in the neo-Confederate spirit. Ask yourself which party, in the spirit of the Dixiecrats, is more likely to excuse race-base segregation, where on-campus “theme houses” or “safe spaces” with impunity discriminate on the basis of superficial appearance. Who is more tolerant of the idea of La Raza (“the Race”), a noun whose pedigree is found in Franco’s fascist Spain and Mussolini’s (as Razza) fascist Italy—Democrats or Republicans?

Is there any need to ask further where the impetus of contemporary anti-Semitism originates? Just walk on any contemporary campus, and visit the free-speech area. Being Jewish and pro-Israel is far more likely to incur left-wing anti-Semites than old-fashioned right-wing ones.

In sum, I don’t see how the present pro-capitalist, pro-federalist, pro-Israel Republican Party can derive from either a foreign imported socialism or an indigenous states’ rights Democratic Party.

Finally, most readers are aware of your insidious liberal trope. In 1980 Reagan was called a Nazi. When he left office, newly-elected George H.W. Bush was the next extremist and suddenly the Left nostalgically called Reagan moderate, given that he was out of power. In 2000 George W. Bush was the new Nazi, and his father reinvented as a moderate in comparison. By 2016 a “new” Republican Party under Trump is now supposedly Nazi-like and W. is now seen as sober and judicious. So the playbook is transparent: assassinate the character of your present adversary by claiming he is an extremist by the standard of his predecessors, whom you of course smeared when they were in power as well.

Bottom line: a lot of incoherence in your short sentence.

Sincerely,

VDH


From an Angry Reader:

She WON the popular vote!!!!!

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Suzanne Williams,

I got your point without the capital letters and the five exclamation marks.

As a general rule the resort to exclamation is a reflection of an absence of argument. Let words speak for themselves—and in your case fail on their own merits.

The Founders created an Electoral College for a reason: to avoid the sort of fickle demagoguery that characterized ancient Athenian democracy and that turns up in chilling scenes in Thucydides and Xenophon, and was thus in depth critiqued by Aristotle and Plato. We follow more instead Roman Republicanism that sought to provide reflection to the pulses of the people before they translated into instant political change. A few additional points:

1) Would you have written this sentence had the opposite occurred: that is, suggesting that Hillary was somehow an illegitimate president because Trump won the popular vote?

2) Do you think that candidates would campaign quite differently had the rules been different? Do you not think that both candidates otherwise might have skipped more sparsely populated swing states to focus on population density? Who knows that outcome?

3) You seem somewhat in a state of denial. The Trump victory was remarkable in ways well beyond his substantial victory in the Electoral College:

 

  1. a) I cannot remember a candidate in modern memory who was bitterly opposed by those in his own party. Trump won despite a dearth of party endorsements, with the hostility of conservative media (Weekly Standard, National Review, many at The Wall Street Journal). The #NeverTrump people shook the Republican Party in a way Bernie Sanders did not the Democratic Party.

 

  1. b) Trump was outspent at somewhere between 3-1 to 2-1 by Hillary: he had few bundlers; his campaign team was much less experienced; he had no ground game in traditional terms; far fewer ads; no real celebrity rallies; etc. Yet he blew up the “blue wall.” Why was that?

 

  1. c) The media hated Trump in a way the Left have never quite matched before. Read WikiLeaks and you can see that both reporters and opinion writers were checking in first with Podesta, Inc. The entire media was corrupt and sought to shape the election by collusion with Hillary and yet all for naught? Why?

4) Unfortunately, Trump was not a fluke: A 2016 red/blue county by county map of the U.S. shows a geographical sea of red (85% of the territory of the U.S.) In sum, Barack Obama destroyed the Democratic Party in just 8 years: Senate lost; House lost; state legislatures and governorships lost (just 6 states have combined Democratic legislatures and governors); 1,000 elected Democrats have lost their offices since Obama took power; the Supreme Court will be conservative at a likely 6-3 or even 7-2 margin for a generation.

It would be wiser to look forward and be introspective: what are liberals doing that is destroying the Democratic Party at state and federal levels? The answers will be more helpful to you rather than suggesting that the U.S. Constitution is at fault.

Sincerely,

VDH


From an Angry Reader:

To Victor Hanson:

f**k all y’all motherf**king f**kers unlubed with a f**king broom handle, you elitist motherf**king uniparty pieces of sh*t.

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Anonymous Foul Reader who mailed from 4m6sm1+2ewjjnl72o2x0@guerrillamail.com,

Even though in cowardly fashion you did not print your name, you did offer a more unique form of profanity than I received from most of your persuasion this election.

No matter, here are five stylistic suggestions, since your letter is otherwise unanswerable.

1) Variatio: the Romans were right that variety in word selection avoids monotony. Your repetition of the f-word does not achieve emphasis, despite your efforts to use the verb, adjective, and noun forms. Ten minutes with Quintilian or Cicero’s rhetoric works would do wonders for your style (easily found in translation on Amazon).

2) Why does the Left so often mix sexual profanity and violence? Your vocabulary is a window into a dark soul. I suggest it is a bad mixture, so pick either sexual violence or profanity, but not both. To suggest is to create, to be ornate is to destroy.

3) What exactly is a “uniparty”? Who belongs to “one-party?” Strive for clarity of thought.

4) What exactly is “elitist?” I thought the charge against Trump supporters was that they were yahoos, not elitists; Red-state Americans voted against elitism. Again, seek some sort of consistency in your ideology; otherwise it is mere street thug vocabulary and adolescent swearing.

5) I’m 63 and have never written a single anonymous letter in my life or used a pseudonym—and have never suffered for it. Try signing your angry letters. At least that way you own your crudity.

Sincerely,

VDH


Comment from an Angry Reader:

I’m sure it was fun exercising your giant brain, but my surprise and I imagine most “liberals” was that enough Americans were willing to vote for what appears to be a sociopath.

 He disqualified himself for me when he openly espoused physical violence against those who disagree with you. Basically the root principle justifying fascism—when the entity being disagreed with is the state.

 No matter what the real Trump turns out to be—even the greatest president that ever was—anyone who voted for him is no better than a Nazi.

 Don’t bother to answer, I don’t give a shit what your rationalization is, or indeed the rationalization of anyone who equates Clinton and Trump as two equally bad choices.

 Richard Waddle

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Richard Waddle,

Are you referring to Trump’s intemperate remarks to protestors disrupting his rallies? I thought that unwise, but we learn post facto that such use of disruption was paid for by operatives in pay of the Democratic National Committee, and the architect of the project was a frequent visitor to the Obama White House. Did that fact, given it was actual, not verbal, disqualify Clinton from being the President, not to mention the current president of the United States?

I would like to have replied to your charge of “fascism,” but you realize that your formulation here is utterly incoherent. What exactly does your half-thought mean: “Basically the root principle justifying fascism—when the entity being disagreed with is the state.” Hieroglyphics or English?

I was wondering when the Nazi charge would come, and was surprised that you held off until half your rant was finished. How exactly is voting for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton—roughly half the country did the same—synonymous with starting World War II and exterminating 6 million in death camps?

And again, you are seriously confused: the statement “No matter what the real Trump turns out to be—even the greatest president that ever was—anyone who voted for him is no better than a Nazi” is internally inconsistent. A president greater than Washington, Lincoln, or Roosevelt obviously is antithetical to Nazism. For example, do you mean to imply that a president who might be greater than the man who warred against and defeated Nazism is a Nazi?

And why so emotional?

Passion without self-control only leaves you confused and adolescent-like. Take you exclamation, “Don’t bother to answer, I don’t give a shit what your rationalization is, or indeed the rationalization of anyone who equates Clinton and Trump as two equally bad choices.”

So you took the trouble to write, but do not wish an answer?

Was the point of this incoherence just to rant rather than to take anti-anxiety medications or to visit a campus safe space lamentation center to pet puppies and play with toys? Note that I never “rationalized” my vote as something equating Clinton and Trump as “two equally bad choices.” They are not. Clinton was worse. Her crimes occurred as a public servant, undermining the idea of equality under the law. Tragically, the Clinton Foundation was run as a veritable crime syndicate that used the cloak of charity to enrich the Clinton family. In contrast, Trump’s excesses were as a private citizen and more rhetorical than factual: what Clinton did is a matter of record; what Trump might do is a matter of conjecture.

After the Nazi smear, I was waiting for the other requisite leftwing trope of obscenity, but again was surprised “sh*t” came so late in your diatribe.

You confirm the old adage the Left loves humanity in the abstract, but does not like people in concrete; in your case, that works out in decrying supposed violence in theory, but in the fact of your writing revealing yourself to be both crude and violent minded to the degree you were occasionally coherent. Quite sad, but also disturbing.

Sincerely, VDH

 


The Angry Phone-caller

“Are you Mr. Hanson? F**k you! F**k Trump!”

Dear (anonymous) Angry Phone-caller,

I did not get a chance to say a word in answer to either your question or exclamations.

But I’m always amazed about the ingenuity of people who can find one’s cell phone number—from retailers to ad men to lost souls like yourself. But seriously, what is it about Donald Trump that drove you to such obscenity—and to such cowardice, since under the guise of a phone call, you waited until I answered, only to shout obscenities and hang up?

Really, I would have taken a minute or two to discuss your “issues”—a venom that we see is acting out in riots and demonstrations (and in blue cities of blue states of all places, rather than out at Ground Zero of Trumpland on the Interstates of Appalachia or southern Ohio), and, more passively, on campuses like my own at Stanford, where adults are reduced to teary infants in need of grief counseling (did such a thing happen in 2008 or 2012 for traumatized conservatives in need of psychological mentoring to assuage their trauma?). Is passive-aggressive cowardice integral to anti-Trump outbursts—ambush obscenity, breaking windows in Liberal Land but not Bismarck or Boise, pouting rather than proud defiance?

In my defense, I don’t think I have ever in some 63 years shouted (even anonymously and by distant phone) “F**k you” to someone, unless when provoked I was prepared to fight. In the Central Valley such epithets are synonymous with fisticuffs and so I never employed them unless I was ready for blows or worse. But how strange the Left is today: it habitually uses the F-word, but also in cowardly fashion seeks shelter in psycho-dramatic counseling. What is the message of the F-word, Jacksonian anger or a weepy retreat to the fetal position, a roaring lion or a teary mouse?

As far as “F**k Trump,” I could only ascertain your gender by your voice (male), not your class, status, ethnicities, race, or religion, so I am not sure in our nation of victims what exactly Trump has done to you or your tribe.

So far he has not said anything like “typical white person,” or told his rallies “to get in their faces” or “to bring a gun to a knife fight.” Did he rouse his supporters against you, on orders “to punish our enemies”? Did he call Latinos “needy” or make fun of the first names of African-Americans or relegate Catholics to little more than medieval nuts?

Did he stereotype blacks as clean or normal speaking as a Joe Biden or Harry Reid? Did he refer to “white Americans” as did Hillary in 2008? Or perhaps you are furious because you think he likes Justice Ginsburg, who quipped once that the right of abortion was at least leading to the aborting of the right sort of babies (e.g., poor and inner city denizens).

Trump has not talked of “them Jews” in the manner of Obama’s spiritual advisor Rev. Wright, or Hillary’s often close political ally Al Sharpton who ranted once about “homos.”

So what is your beef—his economic plan will turn a prosperous Democratic managed inner city into a right-wing moonscape of joblessness? His health care plan will have such high deductibles, premiums, and copays that it will be virtual insurance that never much can be used? That fracking and horizontal drilling will drive gas prices too low? That “the wall” will force lawbreakers here illegally back to their countries of origins without the perpetual right to continue hit and run driving?

Such mystery when a caller shouts eight words only to hang up.

Sincerely,

VDH


Comment from an Angry Reader:

COULD THESE REALLY BE YOUR WORDS?

 “When Trump shoots off his blunderbuss, is it always proof of laziness and ignorance, or is it sometimes generally aimed in the right direction to prompt anxiety and eventual necessary reconsideration?”

 ITS IGNORANCE AND YOU KNOW IT. HAS HE ONCE DESCRIBED DETAILS OF HOW IS GOING TO ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING CONSERVATIVE??

 “The Clinton Foundation is like no other president-sponsored nonprofit enterprise in recent memory.”

 AT LEAST THE MONEY GOES TO CHARITY

 YOUR MAN TRUMP SPENDS IT ON HIS PORTRAIT

  Larry A. Feig, Ph.D.

Professor

Department of Developmental, Molecular and Chemical Biology

Department of Neuroscience

Tufts University School of Medicine

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Larry Feig,

Beware of using all capital letters; usually they seek to create emphases otherwise lacking in an argument. I read both Clinton’s and Trump’s agendas posted on their websites. Progressives should vote for Clinton, conservatives Trump. On the major issues—debt, taxes, regulation, health care, national security, abortion, climate change, fossil fuels, illegal immigration, etc.—their respective positions are entirely antithetical. One can argue their respective characters do not warrant support, or their flip-flops make both insincere. Perhaps. But their official positions as we head toward Election Day are clear and clearly at odds.

VDH

 


Comment from an Angry Reader:

You’re a civil guy, and it is appreciated. It would be a waste of time, however, for us to engage in colloquy. I can only hope that you are not spared the results of your short-sightedness, and cheerleading for Donald Trump—the word is apt, despite your ‘preference’ in the primaries—that perhaps someone you love takes a bullet along with the countless Mexicans and Muslims who will suffer at his hands along with many of the rest of us. Then, you may be able to feel something like Kipling felt when his own son died in wartime.

 —Kurt Lipschutz

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Kurt Lipschutz,

I have answered your earlier angry letter, but confess that you are not a civil person. As I wrote, I am not a cheerleader for Donald Trump, but concluded that in a world of bad and worse choices Trump is less toxic than is Clinton and the assorted Clinton scandals that come with her. Enforcing border security and ensuring immigration is legal, diverse, and meritocratic is reasonable—despite your macabre suggestions.

You know nothing about the circumstances of Kipling’s remorse over the death of his son in WWI, which is likely because either he had helped his son’s own efforts to lift a medical deferment to serve, or he was angry that the British Army had had plenty of warning of the need to prepare for a looming war with Germany and did not field or lead a suitable army worthy of its soldiers’ sacrifices. And you reach a real low when you suggest that someone close to me should die to convince me to agree with your own particular political positions. Anyone who has a lost a child would find your ill wishes for the murder of one of my loved ones pathological and beneath contempt.

VDH


Comment from a Reader:

Dear Sir,

 Maybe if Trump wins, you can be one of his pet intellectuals, whom he will despise and humiliate.

 Sincerely,

Kurt Lipschutz

 

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Lipschutz,

 

I voted against Trump in the primaries and am on record that he was not among the 5-10 candidates I would have preferred instead in the primaries. As a conservative, I believe his agenda is far preferable to Hillary’s progressivism, and so prefer him over yet another 4 years of uninterrupted Obamism.

 

I live on a farm in the middle of nowhere, and am happy to commute to work at the Hoover Institution 3,000 miles away from Washington. I have never worked in politics and avoid Washington and New York as much as possible. I do not consult with campaigns, do not donate to candidates, do not sign presidential campaign endorsement petitions, am not married to a politico, and have no relatives involved in politics. My only official federal service was in 2007-8 to serve as a board member of the American Battlefield Monuments Commission (the position is unpaid) that oversees the management of cemeteries of our war dead overseas. In all cases, I visited military cemeteries abroad at my own expense.

 

To follow your curiosity, I suggest instead that you ask other people in the field of opinion journalism whether the same is true. Or inquire of those in opinion journalism who are Hillary supporters and NeverTrumpers specifically whether they are White House visitors, donate to campaigns, off the record consult with candidates, or are related to or married to campaign operatives, media networkers, or politicians. If you need further direction, consult the Podesta trove to calibrate the level of obsequiousness from Washington and New York journalists and editorialists, who either are self-described “hacks” or vowed to run their work past Clinton auditors before publication.

 

I don’t know whether Trump despises those who fawn over him; but again, I suggest you turn your attention to fact rather than speculation, specifically to intellectuals and journalists who worship Obama, from the Nobel Laureate judges who gave him an unearned award to the Washington toady press corps whom he humiliates daily. Out of politeness I won’t mention all the intellectual grandees who claimed Obama was a “god,” said his pressed pants presaged his greatness, felt tingles in their legs when he spoke, and swore that he was the smartest man to ever enter the presidency—and ask them whether they would say such embarrassing things again.

 

Sincerely, Victor Davis Hanson


Comment from a Reader:

Donald Trump’s campaign statements have consisted of proposals including, but not limited to:

 Violation of the NATO treaty by threatening to withhold assistance from allies based on alleged financial discrepancies;

 Ordering the US Military to commit first-degree murder of non-combatant civilians (“take out the families” of suspected terrorists) — a war crime in violation of the Geneva Conventions;

 Commandeering private and public property in Iraq; specifically, the seizure of their oil fields, pumping equipment, and crude oil — in other words, “pillaging” of conquered territory, which is another war crime in violation of the Geneva Conventions;

 Violation of Amendment One of the Constitution (freedom of the press) – specifically, threatening prosecution against journalists who publish information with which he disagrees;

 Violation of Amendment One (freedom of religion) – specifically, requiring Muslim-Americans to carry identification cards listing their religion;

 Violation of Amendments Five and Six – specifically, trying American Citizens via Military Commissions at Guantanamo, Cuba detention facility;

 Utilizing the Justice Department as a tool of personal vengeance, including the unprecedented and reprehensible threat to jail his opponent if he should be elected.

The above conduct, were Trump to be elected and follow through on these proposals, would comprise a minimum of seven separate, actionable offenses, including Violation of International Law; Breach of Ratified Treaty; Defying the US Constitution; and Abuse of Presidential Power.

This list does not even touch on his not-illegal but nonetheless shocking displays of racism; his slightly oblique (but certainly successful) exhortations to violence at several of his campaign rallies; and his boasting of, and history of, sexual predation upon women.

 A person who votes for a candidate whose campaign rhetoric indicates willingness, even eagerness, to break the law is either insane, hopelessly uneducated, or willingly complicit in the crimes. I’d say that multiple-choice array gives a pretty good clue as to where you stand.

I have long restrained myself from using the “F” word when it comes to a number of the farther-right politicians and commentators in this country, figuring that reasonable minds can disagree.

No more.  Not this time. Not with this candidate, and not when you write something like this:

“… if he were to win, he might usher in the most conservative Congress, presidency, and Supreme Court in nearly a century.”

Knock off the feeble attempts at subterfuge. You don’t mean “conservative,” and we both know it.

You are a fascist. And drowning people in would-be-Buckley word avalanches of self-justification, and hiding behind a variety of fake palliatives like economic arguments does not hide that.

You have no scruples whatsoever to back such a man.

I suggest you consider writing your future columns under the pen name of Philippe Pétain.

Sincerely,

Tom Edwards

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Tom Edwards:

 It is always enjoyable to read an unprincipled and emotional leftist rant that suggests the moral high ground as the requisite excuse for descending into the swamp of calling someone a fascist.

 I have many disagreements with both Hillary supporters and NeverTrump Republicans—and Trump himself, but I don’t question their motives: if you prefer a liberal agenda, then by all means vote for Hillary and swallow her criminality; if you find Trump too vulgar and inexperienced, then simply do not vote for him. Neither is a fascist position. Nor is voting for him the lesser of two evils.

 The adolescent angry reader is incapable of such disinterested views.

 He also engages in projection (in the order he presented his “charges”):

Freedom of religion: Trump was quite wrong in his initial statement to ban entry from the war-torn Middle East on the basis of religion (although Christian Middle Easterners are less likely to be ISIS operatives); he was certainly correct, however, to use locale as a criterion (curtail all immigration for everyone from Syria, Libya, Iraq, etc. until we can properly vet applicants). On the topic of religious liberty, remember how the Obama administration sought to force the Catholic “Little Sisters of the Poor” to include a contraceptive clause in their health care plans contrary to their religious beliefs? The Podesta trove, likewise, reminds us how the Left sought to undermine the Catholic Church which it wrote off as medieval. Trump has not predicated relief for the dying (re: Haiti) on a contractor’s past contributions to the Clinton Foundation. He has not horse-traded with the FBI, hoping to have documents reclassified in exchange for space at US embassies abroad.

 On murder: Hillary Clinton (“I don’t recall…”) as Secretary of State according to more than one witness pondered the possibility of droning ( = assassinating) Julian Assange—but only when his Wikileaks project was damaging her own campaign. Barack Obama, remember, joked about droning possible suitors of his daughter. Funny stuff, blowing up someone from above?

On the 1st Amendment: a video maker was jailed by the Obama administration on the trumped up charge of inciting a riot abroad (proven false); AP reporters had their communications tapped by Eric Holder’s Justice Department. It is now apparently banal (Politico’s Glenn Thrush: “Because I have become a hack I will send u the whole section that pertains to u”) for journalists to send their stories first to the Clinton campaign to have them approved or for an operative to leak debate questions to the preferred candidate. “Equal Protection Under the Law” has become satire when one compares the criminal prosecutions of high-ranking military officers for leaking sensitive documents, after the Hillary immunity for doing far more damage.

Violation of American citizens’ rights: I think droning an American citizen is a bit harsher than interrogating one at Guantanamo. As far as citizens’ rights, the abuse under Lois Lerner at the IRS was aimed at denying US citizens’ their free speech rights.

Personal vengeance? Does the author remember the bullying tactics of press coordination with the White House of JournoList? The jailing of Dinesh D’Souza? Nakoula Basselely Nakoula?

 The author is incapable of comparing the agendas of the candidates and making comparisons (in this particular election) between their positions on the issues; instead we resort to the subjunctive mood to worry what Trump might do when we know what Clinton has done.

 As far as the other boilerplate: Trump campaign rallies? Maybe I missed the story of the resignation of Trump goons (frequent White House visitors?) who confessed to trying to stage riot and violence at Clinton rallies? I deplore racist language, but remember unfortunately the president’s “typical white person,” and Hillary’s 2008 appeal to “white Americans,” and the Harry Reid/Joe Biden discourse about “clean” blacks without “negro” accents.

 The law? This administration had broken the law with executive orders nullifying current immigration statutes, by allowing 300 entities to declare themselves “sanctuaries” immune from ICE jurisdiction, or to reorder creditors in bankruptcy laws; but that is minor in comparison to subverting the government email system, ranking times for personal appointments by payoffs, or divvying up federal contracts on the basis of donations.

 In sum, the author believes like Hillary Clinton that half of those with whom he disagrees are “deplorables,” and it is just such sanctimoniousness that leads to the sort of constitutional abuse witnessed during the last 8 years and throughout the Wikileaks trove. “Knock off the subterfuge:” you are not liberal-minded, merely confused, sadly uniformed—and strangely quite emotional as well.

 I feel quite sorry for you. I mean that sincerely as well.

 —VDH

 


Comment from a Reader:

But even before the latest revelations from an eleven-year-old Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump crudely talked about women”

TRUMP DID NOT TALK CRUDELY ABOUT WOMEN ON THIS TAPE- HE TALKED ABOUT HIS RIGHT AS A CELEBRITY TO SEXUALLY ASSAULT WOMEN!!!

YOUR CONFLATING THE TWO IS UNBELIEVABLE.   IF YOU HAVE A DAUGHTER ASK HER IF SHE KNOWS THE DIFFERENCE.

IN DOING SO YOU ENABLE MEN OUT THERE TO DO WHAT HE BRAGS ABOUT. HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE THIS?

OH YEH, BEING A REPUBLICAN IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ENCOURAGING MEN TO SEXUALLY ASSAULT WOMEN.  SEE HOW YOU FEEL IF YOU, YOUR DAUGHTER OR SISTER IS GRABBED BY THE GENITALIA  AND SOMEONE SAYS WELL TRUMP SAYS ITS OK.

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry Reader Feig,

Spare me the bottled, adolescent capital-letter piety. The choice for now is between a repulsive-speaking Trump, the blowhard, and Clinton, who, to keep on your topic of sexual assault, chortled over her ability to get a child rapist off with a light sentence (a real, not a rhetorical victim), and who habitually denigrated women who were sexually assaulted by her husband, and whose campaign is being aided on stump by both Al Gore (the “crazed sex poodle” accused of sexual assault in a motel room) and her husband, who was disbarred due to lying about just one of his serial sexual assaults.

Both are flawed candidates, but the election hinges on which of their respective agendas are more likely to lead to greater security, legality and prosperity for most Americans. In that 51/49% world, Trump’s hypothetical agenda is preferable to Clinton’s actual.

Given your sanctimonious sermonizing, ‘how can you not see this’? Hillary Clinton reportedly dreamed of “droning” Julian Assange. In other words, the Secretary of States envisioned assassinating a figure she found dangerous to her campaign. If that is not morally repugnant enough for you, how dare you vote for someone who felt adjudicating contracts for Haitian relief depended on cash contributions (trafficking in lives for money)? I could go on, but you get the contrast from the hypothetical reprehensible in the subjunctive versus the actual past reprehensible in the indicative.

I find your moral blinkers “unbelievable”.

I do not habitually, as your wont, impugn the motives of those like you who will vote for a serial liar, extortionist, criminal, and hypocrite, given I assume that they feel her flaws do not detract enough from her progressive agenda which they favor; so, given the wart on your nose, do not slight the pimple on someone else’s cheek. Finally, what makes you think I am a registered Republican?

I would indeed warn my daughter about a probable sexual grabber like Donald Trump—but especially a sexual assaulter like Al Gore, and a rapist like Bill Clinton—and in particular a legal and emotional enabler of rape like Hillary Clinton.

VDH

Selma resident

 


Comment from a Reader:

Maybe you can become his campaign manager now.  That is, if you can get him to sit still long enough for you to explain to him who Bull Halsey is.

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:
Your cynicism is noted. But,as you know, Trump refers to Gens. MacArthur and George S. Patton with frequency if not monotony. So your point is that Trump’s knowledge of World War II’s top commanders is incomplete in that he shorts admirals in his similes and allusions?

 


Comment from a Reader:

Dear Mr. Hanson;

I left the Republican Party soon after watching eight years of ineffective “leadership” by Mitch McConnell, John Bohner, and now Paul Ryan. But the tipping point came when Trump was nominated for president. I cannot belong to a political party that would nominate an ignoramus and blowhard who has no interest in America other than how it can enrich him.

Trump has the mentality of a not-very-bright 8 year old. I am sad to witness people like Dennis Prager, Bill Bennett, Ann Coulter, you, and many others I formerly respected who are now in thrall to the unsophisticated and ignorant Trump.

The GOP is finished. Conservatives and those who love and respect our Constitution must form a new organization to push back against institutional Leftism. Trump is the last person we need to lead that movement.

John Nernoff

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

The use of the adjectival phrase “in thrall” has no support in anything I wrote about Trump, my least favorite of the 16 primary alternatives, and reflects poorly on both the reasoning and character of the Angry Reader.  Unfortunately, I live in the real world of 51/49% in which there are usually bad and worse choices. In that context, the specter of a 8-year Clinton continuum to Obama’s two terms is truly frightening. I suggest Mr. Nernoff review the latest Wikileaks trove and then collate it with prior hacked Clinton emails and Foundation business. “Unsophisticated and Ignorant” Hillary certainly is not. But I might prefer in our Manichean world of 2016 unsophistication to unconstitutional criminality and inveterate lying. If you seek monuments to why Hillary should not reach the White House, simply look around you from the carcass of the Middle East to a soon to be nuclear Iran to war drums from North Korea to Moscow—all a topping to a wrecked health care system, $11 trillion in new debt, and the corruption of once hallowed institutions from the IRS to the FBI. There is a 51% great likelihood that a president Trump would bring in far more conservatives than would Hillary Clinton; sometimes that is all we get.

 


Comment on: Is Trump Admiral Bull Halsey of Captain Queeg?

October 4, 2016

So—you tuned in hoping to see “Bull” Halsey? I suppose that was a reasonable expectation if the following propositions were true:

       1. “Bull” Halsey was a draft dodger.

      2. “Bull” Halsey was a cheat.

  1. “Bull” Halsey was a four-flusher.
  1. “Bull” Halsey was an ignoramus.
  1. “Bull” Halsey got his information from “the shows.”

 I could go on—in fact, I could go on and on and on—but I hope you get the point. It’s that I’ve never seen this amount of self-delusion in one place at one time before. The mere act of instituting that comparison means your judgment ranks at zero, now and forever.

 Adios—

 Bob Acker

Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Mr. Acker,

I wrote in the column that conservatives—not myself as you write—probably tuned into to see Trump as a Bull Halsey-like character, not as Captain Queeg of The Caine Mutiny. You do not understand the craft of allusion, metaphor, or simile. I suggested that Trump supporters probably thought he would come out in the first debate in speech and candor as aggressive and tough, in the manner that Admiral William “Bull” Halsey often employed tough rhetoric in World War II. Instead, I suggested that Trump’s confused debate performance reminded one of the neurotic fictional character Captain Queeg of the classic movie The Caine Mutiny, who melted down in courtroom rants about the trivial.

You strangely object to that narrow comparison because you seem to think that the life Trump has lived does not match the heroism of Halsey. True, but my limited comparison was to the impulsive Halsey’s combative language, not inclusive relative morality. According to your simplistic logic, Trump commensurately also could not be compared to the neurotic Queeg because Queeg never existed—he was first a fictional and later a cinematic character. So I am also not allowed to note the comparison between Trump and Queeg because it would be unfair to the non-person Queeg: the phantom of literature and film whose made-up life might not have been akin to Trump, the “four-flusher”?

The arrogance and puerility of your angry letter (“It’s that I’ve never seen this amount of self-delusion in one place at one time before. The mere act of instituting that comparison means your judgment ranks at zero, now and forever.”) only add to your utter confusion about comparisons to limited rhetorical characteristics of real and fictional characters.

Finally, if I were to say on occasion that Mitt Romney was Kennedyesque, in some of his better rhetorical moments, would the blinkered Acker then object that the comparison between the morally upright Romney and the dissolute and often abhorrent sexual practices of John F. Kennedy made the narrow rhetorical allusion unfair to Romney?

In sum, the angry letter is utterly incoherent, reminding us that ignorance and arrogance are a lethal combination.

VDH


 

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