Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Author Archives: Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

Remembering Who Is Keeping Us Alive

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

I tried an experiment yesterday. I went to four large supermarkets in Fresno County, the nation’s largest and most diverse food-producing county, and looked at both checkouts and shelf space. The two big sellers seemed to be cleansers of all sorts (bleach wipes were all sold out, for example) and staples such as canned soup, pasta, and canned fish and preserved meat.

Then I drove in about a 50-mile circumference to look at local farms — vineyards, orchards, row crops, dairy, etc. — and packinghouses and processors. There seemed absolutely no interruption at all. Farmers and workers were on tractors, packing houses were bringing in late citrus for cold storage, and lots of people were harvesting winter vegetables in the field. Machines were fertilizing, spraying, and cultivating.

The point is that in our age of necessary shutdowns and staying home, one thing we must do is eat — and eat well to stay healthy. And that means lots of people have to go to work and produce food and transport it to the major cities, and not always in isolation on the south 40.

Farmers do a lot more than just drop a seed in the ground and then by rote watch it sprout into a corn stalk, as one of our nation’s richest and most influential figures lectured us not all that long ago. For millions to subsist at home, to force the virus to sputter out, they must eat, as well as have power, running water, law enforcement, and sanitation. And that means millions of Americans must go to work as usual and sustain the elementals and existential forces of American life for 330 million, usually out of sight and out of mind, as we concentrate on the required quarantining of universities, offices, bureaus, sporting events, etc.

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America In a New Upside-Down World

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

The world is changing at a pace not seen in years, and it is no time to become captives of fear despite the real and immediate dangers we face.

The coronavirus and the ensuing panic, at least for a few more weeks, have stagnated the economy and scared global financial markets, accompanied by both collateral, and independent and simultaneous, bad news. Rumor- and panic-mongers predominate; the rational and reasonable are written-off as naïve and out of it. Thousands may die, but millions who will not are terrified into anxieties and sleeplessness that they will.

COVID-19 itself has raised fundamental questions about the merits of globalization in general, and in particular the wisdom of any sovereign nation outsourcing key industries like high-tech, pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and food processing to an autocratic, non-transparent—and dangerous—nation like China.

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The Great Coronavirus War Is upon Us

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Try this thought experiment. Envision the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, as a living, breathing enemy — which, of course, is exactly what it is.

But imagine for a moment that we are in real war with a cognizant, thinking, and clever enemy whose sole reason to live is to hurt, maim, or kill as many of us as it can.

COVID-19 may not have jets, tanks, or nukes, like our past enemies. But its arsenal, numbers, cunning, and willpower are said to be formidable.

To win its war against Americans, COVID-19 must infect and sicken lots of Americans each day. If it cannot infect enough victims to multiply and sustain a hungry army of viruses, COVID-19 will soon sputter and die. It will get trapped in just a few hosts among an otherwise victorious and healthy nation of about 330 million.

Nature has given COVID-19 some weapons that its defeated cousins — the H1N1 swine flu and the MERS and SARS viruses — lacked.

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The Portentous Biden Blowup

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Joe Biden lost it again on the campaign trail at an auto plant being built in Detroit, and in a now familiar script.

His blowup had all his characteristic theatrics of prior such encounters. There were the shouting at blue-collar workers, the he-man, corn-pop-like braggadocio, the ad hominem expletives (“you’re full of s***!”), the invasion of one’s personal space with his habitual wagging finger, the personal invective (“horse’s a**”), and, of course, being wrong on the issues and accusations.

It certainly is reasonable to assume that, given Biden’s promise to put Beto O’Rourke (“Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15”) in charge of a President Biden’s Second Amendment policies, a normal voter rightly could fear that Biden either wants, or would allow, bans on certain type of guns.

This latest incident joins lots of others, such as the Iowa one-on-one with an apparently portly male questioner: “You’re a damn liar, and that’s not true. . . . I’m not sedentary. You want to check my shape on, let’s do push-ups together, let’s run, let’s do whatever you want to do, let’s take an IQ test. . . . Look, fat . . .”

Or the brush-up with the young woman in New Hampshire: “You ever been to a caucus? No, you haven’t. You’re a lying, dog-faced pony soldier.”

We are told all this is baked into the Good Ol’ Joe from Scranton persona, and his supporters no more care than the MAGA audiences do when it comes to Trump’s tweets and disparaging epithets.

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Iran Doesn’t Understand ‘Maximum Pressure’

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Iran has misjudged not only the toxic effects of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” sanctions on the regime but also the entire psychology of U.S. policy toward Iran. The result is that Iranian unemployment is soaring, its gross domestic product is tanking, inflation is raging, oil prices are crashing, and its friends are fewer than ever — and for the first time in 40 years, the regime believes that it must do something quite radical before it implodes.

2020 is not 1979, not 1983, not 1986, not 2004–2007, and not 2011 — all years when Iran variously pressured the U.S. by taking hostages, killing American personnel in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq, threatening oil disruptions, and planning to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington, D.C. Now things are redefined for a variety of reasons, most of them apparently still underappreciated by the theocratic Iranian elite.

1) As the world’s largest oil and natural-gas producer, the U.S. is not vulnerable to cutoffs of oil from the Middle East. It, of course, cares about global free passage through the Straits of Hormuz, but not as much as do major importers such as Europe and exporters such as China.

Americans today certainly would not go to war if oil-dependent nations did not themselves first confront Iran over any threatened denial of access through the straits. That said, most Americans would not wish their sons and daughters to die to keep Chinese trade — or even Europe’s oil imports — safe.

As far as the old Middle East “tensions” spiking oil prices and thereby harming consumers in the U.S. are concerned, such theoretical crises now offer a wash to America: Higher gas prices would also mean that the value of ascending U.S. daily oil production would increase by hundreds of millions of dollars every week, because consumers mostly pay fellow Americans for increased gas costs at the pump.

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California Is a Cruel Medieval State

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

One way of understanding California is simply to invert traditional morality. What for centuries would be considered selfish, callous, and greedy is now recalibrated as caring, empathetic, and generous. The current ethos of evaluating someone by his or her superficial appearance—gender or race—has returned to the premodern values of 19th-century California when race and gender calibrated careers. We don’t pay medieval priests for indulgences of our past and ongoing sin, but we do tweet out displays of our goodness as the penance price of acting amoral.

A paradox ensues that Californians both have a high, indeed smug, view of themselves and yet do a lot of damage to their fellow human beings. Their haughtiness is based largely on the reality that Silicon Valley, sandwiched between Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley, became the birthplace of the global computer, internet, social media, and a high-tech revolution. For progressives who deprecate the capitalist lifestyle, having a lot of money still allows one to say one thing and live out the opposite.

The state’s multi-trillion-dollar companies have hired tens of thousands of seven-figure, mid-level executives and computer experts who assume that life in the California coastal corridor is a birthright paradise.

The resulting tax revenue bonanza to the state allows one-party-rule to rid California of the old bothersome Reagan-Deukmejian-Wilson working- and middle-classes by embracing not-in-my-backyard zoning, identity politics, anal-retentive regulations, steep tax rates, utopian green agendas, open borders, and decriminalization of things that used to be felony offenses.

Indeed, the bigger and wealthier California became, the more the rich sought to privatize their lives and to give up on public services, the more the middle classes left the state, the more the poor from Mexico and Latin America crossed the southern border illegally, the more its schools deteriorated, and the more its infrastructure ossified and became decrepit, from century-old power transmission towers to pot-holed and jammed highways.

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What We Don’t Know about the Coronavirus Is What Scares Us

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

The recent spread of the coronavirus is causing a global panic. Our shared terror arises not so much from the death toll of the new flu-like disease — more than 3,000 people have died worldwide — but from what we don’t know about it.

Experts at least agree that the virus originated in China. But Beijing’s authoritarian government hid information about its origins, spread, and severity for weeks.

Such duplicity only fanned the fears of a global plague — a hysteria not seen since the groundless fears of a Y2K global computer meltdown in the year 2000, or the political feeding frenzy during the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

Wild speculation followed that the coronavirus was a virulent or mutated superbug. Had it arisen naturally or escaped from a nearby military lab? Did it originate from a sick lab animal? A conspiracy theory arose that it was a manufactured virus that had escaped from scientists’ botched efforts to create either a vaccine or a biological weapon.

Is the outbreak an indication that China’s scientists are well behind their Western peers, at least in the areas of virology and bacteriology? Or is the problem that Chinese culture still features outdated traditions such as open-air “wet markets”? Unfounded rumors spread that the virus may have originated in one of these markets, where exotic mammals such as bats and pangolins are still sold for human consumption. For all China’s gleaming high-speed-rail lines and new airports, hundreds of millions of Chinese still live in places with suspect food safety and waste disposal — the historic incubators of epidemics.

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Globalization Bleeding

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

By the early 21st century, cosmopolitans were gushing that high-tech, instant communications, transnational agencies and agreements, free-flowing capital, international corporations, and a new eerily uniform global elite had, finally, made nationalism, borders, and even the nation-state itself all irrelevant. Nationalism was apparently relegated to dustbin of history, as we hit peak Socratic citizen-of-the-worldism.

There were always two flaws to these adolescent giddy reports from world-bestriding New York Times op-ed journalists about win-win globalization, with their praise of gleaming airports and superior high-speed rail in what was otherwise Communist China, or accounts of flying first-class on Qatar Airlines was heavenly compared with backward United or American Airlines.

Nothing New under the Sun
One, globalization was not the end of history. It is a recurrent, cyclical, and at best morally neutral phenomenon that has always, at least in relative terms, waxed and waned over the past 2,500 years of civilization — although recent transcontinentalism carries greater consequences in the era of electronic interconnectedness.

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New Impeachment Rules Would Snare Obama

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

Barack Obama’s eight-year tenure was detrimental to the United States, but like most of his nonbelievers, I harbor no animosity for his person.

Few critics that I know advocated that Obama be impeached, much less removed from office, before his reelection bid—even amid his worst scandals and dangerous policies. But we are now in a new age, whose protocols might have made it impossible for the Obama Administration to have finished two terms. 

Remember, his administration ran some 2,000 guns to Mexican cartels in some hare-brained scheme to monitor violence spilling into the United States. Under the new customs, he should have been impeached for instructing Attorney General Eric Holder to refuse to testify to Congress about Fast and Furious, or at least for not handing over subpoenaed documents. Imagine a Trump gun-walking scheme in Mexico. 

It was bad enough that Holder was the first attorney general to be held in contempt of Congress, well aside from the embarrassment of his unhinged outbursts about “my people” (hinthis “my” did not mean Americans of all races and creeds). We all remember Holder’s lunatic dismissals of his own country as “a nation of cowards.” (Imagine Bill Barr referring to “my people” or calling Americans cowards)

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Angry Reader 02-28-20

From An Angry Reader:

Subject: Gray Matter

Your articles are so offensively lacking in context, thoughtfulness, and reflection on history–basically simpleminded attack ads– that I am going to erase the National Review’s bookmark from my browser. And there is no case for Trump any more than there was a case for Mussolini.


Dear Angry Reader “Red Harmony”

At least your letter is free of the usual Angry Reader capital letters, profanity, and slurs, although you make accusations about a recent essay I wrote on elite disparagement of so-called average Americans (“ ‘Gray Matter’–Deficient Americans”) without citing a single fact, quotation, or particular name to ground your accusations.

And, of course, also in Angry Reader fashion, you resort to the usual reductio ad fascism (e.g., “a case for Mussolini”). Trump, unlike Mussolini, is in constitutional fashion up for reelection, and his agenda has to be ratified by a Congress, while he is subject to constant judicial review.

In terms of fascist anti-Semitism, Trump is the most pro-Israel, and perhaps pro-Jewish president in memory. He has a decided distaste for optional or preemptory wars, and does not wear uniforms, give 4-hour speeches, or form “pacts of steel” with fascist nations.

Currently, he has taken on communist China on trade, is far tougher on authoritarian Russia than was the “reset” Obama administration, and broke off the Obama Iran Deal with a theocratic and murderous Iranian government. So again, you should supply some evidence to support what are otherwise incoherent assertions.

Erasing your bookmark to National Review I suggest is a superb idea and could spare you further heartache and angst of the sort you demonstrate here.

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