Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

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Enemies of Language

 by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

What would happen if conservatives started to change the words we use for political ends?

Throughout history, revolutionaries of all stripes have warped the meaning of words to subvert reality.

And now here we go again, with another effort — spearheaded by the media and universities — to use any linguistic means necessary to achieve political ends.

“Sanctuary city” is a euphemism for the local and state nullification of federal law — a subversive tactic that dates back to the nullification crises during the Andrew Jackson administration and, later, in the years leading up to the Civil War.

This makes a mockery of the simple constitutional principle that cities and states cannot subversively pick and choose which federal laws to obey.

The term “sanctuary” would never apply to conservative jurisdictions that in similar fashion sought to offer “sanctuary” to those dissidents who disobeyed federal gun registration, income tax, or environmental laws.

College administrators boast of offering counseling and therapeutic help to students and faculty members distraught over the recent election. They use terms like “divisive” and “polarizing” in describing the election, when in truth they wish to hide from their donors, alumni, and half the country their own abject and one-sided contempt for incoming president-elect Donald Trump. Read more →

The Progressive Disintegration

The self-destruction of so many failed progressive gods.

A month ago, progressives were having a conniption fit over Trump’s refusal to accept the outcome of the election. So of course, now that Trump has won, they are rioting, vandalizing, staging “cry-ins,” ditching class, group-hugging, tweeting threats, calling names, seeking counseling, and doing everything in their power to make sure that their party declines even further. If this behavior continues, and if––a big “if” –– Trump governs the way he promised, we may be witnessing the start of the progressive disintegration.

Start with the melting snowflake millennials, all those “cocksure women and hensure men,” as D.H. Lawrence once described feminists of both sexes. These layabouts have become used to throwing tantrums whenever they don’t like something or they feel “unsafe.” Most of them are spoiled brats, the pampered detritus of the middle class. But don’t forget the Alinskyite activists who manipulate these juveniles and bus them in on George Soros’ dime. These two-bit Leninists are adept at using “useful idiots” in order to further their aim of destroying America’s political and social order. They’re skilled at manipulating empty slogans like “income inequality,” “fair share,” “social justice,” “diversity,” “inclusion,” and all the other bumper-sticker bromides in order to consolidate and increase their power and influence. Read more →

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

Who Are Wise, Who Not?

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review
 Insight often comes not from an Ivy League degree but by way of animal cunning, instinct, and hard work.
“Cleverness is not wisdom.” — Euripides, the Bacchae
At the height of the sophistic age in classical Athens, the playwright Euripides asked an eternal question in his masterpiece, the Bacchae: “What is wisdom?”
Was wisdom defined as clever wordplay, or as the urban sophistication of the robed philosophers in the agora and rhetoricians in the assembly?
Or instead was true wisdom a deeper and more modest appreciation of unchanging human nature throughout the ages, which reminds us to avoid hubris, tread carefully, always expect the unlikely, and distrust the self-acclaimed wise who eventually prove clever fools? At the end of the play, a savage, merciless nemesis is unleashed on the hubristic wise of the establishment.
Euripides would have appreciated the ironies of the 2016 election.
Millions of Americans, far from the two coasts, kept largely quiet. They either did not talk much to pollsters or they politely declined to reveal their true feelings. They tuned out talking heads and ignored blue-chip pundits. They did not listen to the shrill bombast of President Obama on the campaign trail or pollsters who ad nauseam declared Hillary Clinton the sure electoral-college winner.
They were not shamed or much bothered by the condescension they receive from the media and the Washington elite, who proved wrong or biased or both in their coverage. They believed that free trade was not worth much if it was not fair trade, that illegal and politicized immigration was as subversive as legal and diverse immigration was valuable, that real racists were those who used race and ethnicity to encourage others to break the law for their own political and elite interests, and that it was stupid to trust their job futures to those who never lost their own jobs while often losing those of others.

Read more →

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

Trump’s Bizarre Winning Formula

  by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review
Reformulating the Republican message, Donald Trump was able to exploit political mistakes that the Democrats have made.
The Democratic party handed Donald Trump a rare opportunity to make radical changes to the electoral map that could last for years to come.
First, the Democrats gave Trump a great gift by completing the ongoing radicalization of their party under President Obama. After 2008, it was no longer a party of the working and middle classes, but a lopsided political pyramid.
On top were the cynical elites who turned up in the WikiLeaks John Podesta e-mail trove: self-important media members, Ivy League grandees, Silicon Valley billionaires, Wall Street plutocrats, and coastal-corridor snobs. They talk left-wing but live royally. They court minorities to vote in lockstep, then deride them in private. The vast lower tier of the party comprises government employees, the poor, minorities, and the millions dependent on state and federal assistance.

Read more →

The Appointment Game

The Corner
The one and only
 by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review
 Everyone is playing the “what if” recommendation game. For what little they would be worth in an ideal world, here would be four of my slightly unorthodox recommendations:
First, Larry Arnn, Hillsdale College president, for secretary of education. No one, for obvious reasons, understands better how that department works or does not work, or is more familiar with ways of saving kindergarten through graduate education, or is a greater protector of constitutional principles.
Marine general James Mattis would be a unique secretary of defense. He is apolitical, a widely read Jacksonian, blunt, and combative; he has a wealth of experience, especially in the Middle East, and is highly respected abroad and at home. It is no exaggeration that he is acknowledged as America’s most admired retired soldier.

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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? Read more →

Braver New World — for Now

The Corner
The one and only.
By Victor Davis Hanson// National Review
Given the status of the post-election state legislatures and executive offices, the Republican-controlled House and Senate, a Republican president, and a Supreme Court that will not go leftward for a generation, it is hard to see how conservatives could be anything other than relieved by Tuesday’s result. Even Trump’s critics must concede, one, that he incurred the right enemies, whose post-election teeth-gnashing was not unwelcome to them; two, that Phoenix-like (or to his enemies vampire-like) he was insidiously resilient, overcoming enormous odds and electioneering disasters, some self-inflicted, that would have sent most other candidates with lesser energy or purpose into therapy; and, three, that his cabinet and Supreme Court picks will likely slow the leftist trajectory of the country.

Read more →

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