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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.

2020 Election Will Be a Contest of the Angry

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

The old 2020 election was supposed to be about many familiar issues. It is not anymore.

Up until now, the candidates themselves would supposedly be the story in November. The Left had cited Trump’s tweets and erratic firings as windows into his dark soul.

The Right had replied that an addled and befuddled Joe Biden was not really a candidate at all.

Instead, he was a mere facsimile who would have to be carried to the Election Day on the shoulders of the Democratic Party, only shortly to fade away. Then a radical vice president soon could implement a hard-left agenda by succession what she could not through election.

Issues themselves are no longer likely to decide the election either. Not long ago progressives argued that the miracle Trump economy was in shambles, done in by plague, quarantine, and riot.

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The Triumph of the Country Mouse

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

In Aesop’s Fables and Horace’s Satires a common classical allegory is variously retold about the country mouse and his sophisticated urban cousin.

The city-slicker mouse first visits his rustic cousin’s simple rural hole and is quickly bored and unimpressed by both the calm and the simple fare.

When the roles are soon reversed, the country cousin at first is delighted by big-city mouse’s sumptuous urban food scraps and the majestic halls where they may scuttle about. But as the crafty clawed house cat and sharp-toothed guard dogs threaten both, and the noise and bustle mount, the stressed-out country mouse scampers home — at last realizing that his unappreciated quiet and safe abode trump action and sophistication every time.

These Greek and Roman fables reflect the classical world’s paradox of not particularly enjoying life in the fetid, plague-ridden, and dangerous big cities of Athens, Rome, and Alexandria that nevertheless gave the world Socrates, Virgil, and magnificent libraries. As towns grew into metropolises, their sheen as heady places for art, literature, and cultural change began to fade. In response, the once commonplace farm and distant town were increasingly romanticized, especially in such genres as pastoralism and bucolic poetry. The escape to the country estate was the ideal of the Roman senator, the same way that the “ranch” sometimes becomes the getaway from the Washington swamp for American presidents.

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What Happens When the Madness Ends?

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

When something cannot go on, it certainly will not go on. But what are the symptoms of what cannot go on and when? 

There are two historic red lines and our revolution is getting close to both. 

When Normal People Grow Weary 

One is when “average” people, both white and nonwhite, who identify neither with Left nor Right, woke nor unwoke, become frightened or appalled by the violence and the anarchy—and thus finally move to dismantle the guillotine as the razor increasingly starts haircutting friends, idols, and compatriots. 

Their verdict can be known either by demonstrating themselves, boycotting, voting, or massive civil disobedience. At some point, tonight’s hero on YouTube torching Wendy’s or kicking a downed policeman on CNN, becomes tomorrow’s commonplace, unnoticed felon—with a new warrant issued out on his head, and about whose fate and lengthy CV no one other than his parents much cares.

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A Presidential Campaign Simile: Storm-Tossed Galleon

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Presidential campaigns are like galleons sailing into port, their metaphorical Election Day destinations. Some arrive there first, others not at all.

The news cycle is the propellant wind, their own campaigns the ship and its sails, and the candidates the captains on the bridge. Sometimes, no matter how tall the masts and huge the canvas, the wind blows against them or is all but nonexistent. Then the campaign ship stays in the doldrums or goes backward in the polls because of the headwinds — even despite brilliant rigging, clever tacking, and an adroit captain’s seamanship.

Right now, Trump’s ship has been hit in succession by sudden headwinds and violent storms of impeachment, the contagion, the lockdown, the tragic killing of George Floyd, and both the ensuring peaceful protests and violent looting, rioting, and arson. The result is that his voyage to port has nearly stopped. Even warped polls suggest that in the past few days he has caught little wind in his sails, while Joe Biden, asleep at the wheel, lets his crew ever so slowly capture a tiny breeze or two and drift ahead.

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Victor Davis Hanson says ‘the left has used’ George Floyd’s death to stage cultural revolution

Author and Hoover Institution senior fellow Victor Davis Hanson told “The Brian Kilmeade Show” on Wednesday that the left has “hijacked” the protests over the death of George Floyd in order to stage a cultural revolution.

Watch the video here

How Cultural Revolutions Die — or Not

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Unlike coups or political revolutions, cultural revolutions don’t just change governments or leaders. Instead, they try to redefine entire societies. Their leaders call them “holistic” and “systematic.”

Cultural revolutionaries attack the very referents of our daily lives. The Jacobins’ so-called Reign of Terror during the French Revolution slaughtered Christian clergy, renamed months, and created a new supreme being: Reason.

Mao cracked down on supposed Western decadence such as the wearing of eyeglasses, and he made peasants forge pot iron and intellectuals wear dunce caps.

Moammar Qaddafi’s Green Book cult wiped out violins and forced Libyans to raise chickens in their apartments.

The current Black Lives Matter revolution has “canceled” certain movies, television shows, and cartoons, toppled statues, tried to create new autonomous urban zones, and renamed streets and plazas. Some fanatics shave their heads. Others have shamed authorities into washing the feet of their fellow revolutionaries.

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Class, Not Race, Divides America

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

Nothing is stranger in these tense days than the monotony of the inexact and non-descriptive mantra of “white privilege” and “white solidarity”—as if there is some monolithic white bloc, or as if class matters not at all.

In truth, the clingers, the deplorables, the irredeemables, and Joe Biden’s “dregs” have very little in common with those who so libel them, but superficially share supposedly omnipotent and similar skin color.

In the past, we saw such tensions among so-called whites in CNN’s reporting of the allegedly toothless rubes at Trump rallies, in the Strzok-Page text trove about Walmart’s smelly patrons, in the callous coastal disregard for the five-decade wasting away of the American industrial heartland, in the permissible elite collective disparagement of Christian evangelicals, and in the anthropological curiosity about and condescension toward such exotic, but presumably backward, Duck Dynasty and NASCAR peoples. 

As a result, we have reached the surreal point at which the nation’s privileged whites on campuses such as Harvard, Yale, and Stanford, in the top echelon of politics, and the corporate and entertainment worlds, all deplore in the abstract something they call “white privilege” in others who have never really experienced it. 

Of course, whatever such a thing is, they possess it in abundance but give no hint they have any intention of giving it up other than rhetorically or through the medieval concept of hair-shirt penance and Twitter confessionals. On the other hand, they are furious that middle-class whites do not join their theatrics of bending the knee and offering abject apologies for original sins. 

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Military-Intelligence Complex

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Not long after a number of generals and admirals recently weighed in with renewed criticism of the president in orchestrated unison, presidential candidate Joe Biden seemed giddy at their effort. After breezily asserting that “this president is going to try to steal this election,” Biden then charged additionally that Trump might not depart peacefully after losing the election .

In other words, according to Biden, Trump would either steal an election, claim he won, and then not leave after really losing it, or he would clearly lose it and then refuse to vacate the White House.

But Biden bragged that he was not worried, now that retired generals had “ripped the skin off of Trump,” and thus could be counted on as muscle by the new president Biden:

I was so damn proud. You have four chiefs of staff coming out and ripping the skin off of Trump, and you have so many rank-and-file military personnel saying, “Whoah, we’re not a military state. This is not who we are.”

Biden then offered the warning, “I promise you, I’m absolutely convinced they will escort him from the White House with great dispatch.”

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Not-So-Swift Smear

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

I recently wrote about a number of retired high-ranking generals and admirals, none running for office or currently serving in the Trump administration, whose strident criticisms of the present elected president were setting an unfortunate precedent.

Many disagreed. There are certainly arguments to consider on both sides. But rarely have I read an attack that is wholly disingenuous, so poorly written as to be incoherent, and mostly adolescently ad hominem, of the sort leveled by one Jim Swift of the Bulwark.

Swift says I am a hypocrite (“hypocritical criticism wrapped in a history lesson”) for criticizing current strident political attacks on an elected president, given that I had not previously objected to Generals Mattis, Kelly, and Flynn serving in the Trump administration. (“So much for keeping the military out of politics.”)

But surely even Swift can see the difference between a retired general serving in a government and a general blasting a president while in retirement and not in government. Mattis, Kelly, and Flynn probably all have differing political views. They did not necessarily serve the Trump administration to advance their own or Trump’s political agendas; perhaps they aimed to serve the country if so asked.

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The NYT and the Cotton op-ed: Opinion or party line?

The following article is from my colleague Paul Roderick Gregory in The Hill

Sometimes it takes an outsider to see things clearly.

The Neue Zurcher Zeitung (NZZ) ranks as a fiercely independent newspaper, much like the Swiss people themselves. The high-quality Zurich newspaper is no fan of Donald Trump. It is, therefore, noteworthy that the NZZ views with alarm for the journalism profession recent events at the New York Times.

In its opinion piece, the NZZ wonders whether we are seeing the “end of the newspaper as a place of free thought and the beginning of a moralistic culture of denunciation.” In doing so, it contends that the New York Times would be no different than the “right-wing media” that it often criticizes as being overly partisan instead of purely objective.

The NZZ’s case in point: The forced resignation of James Bennet, the opinion editor of the NYT. His sin, apparently, was publishing a guest commentary by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) entitled “Send in the Troops.” Cotton’s piece endorsed a military intervention against the sometimes violent protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Cotton cited the Insurrection Act, a federal law dating to 1807, as the legal basis for such a military intervention.

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