Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Can a Divided America Survive?

By Victor Davis Hanson
National Review 

History has not been very kind to countries that enter a state of multicultural chaos.

The United States is currently the world’s oldest democracy.

But America is no more immune from collapse than were some of history’s most stable and impressive consensual governments. Fifth-century Athens, Republican Rome, Renaissance Florence and Venice, and many of the elected governments of early 20th-century Western European states eventually destroyed themselves, went bankrupt, or were overrun by invaders.

The United States is dividing as rarely before. Half the country, mostly liberal America, is concentrated in 146 of the nation’s more than 3,000 counties — in an area that collectively represents less than 10 percent of the U.S. land mass. The other half, the conservative Red states of the interior of America, is geographically, culturally, economically, politically, and socially at odds with Blue-state America, which resides mostly on the two coasts.

The two Americas watch different news. They read very different books, listen to different music, and watch different television shows. Increasingly, they now live lives according to two widely different traditions.

Barack Obama was elected president after compiling the most left-wing voting record in the U.S. Senate. His antidote, Donald Trump, was elected largely on the premise that traditional Republicans were hardly conservative.

Red America and Blue America are spiraling into divisions approaching those of 1860, or of the nihilistic hippie/straight divide of 1968.

Currently, some 27 percent of all Californians were not born in the United States. More than 40 million foreign-born immigrants currently live in the U.S. — the highest number in the nation’s history.

Yet widely unchecked immigration comes at a time when the country has lost confidence in its prior successful adherence to melting-pot assimilation and integration. The ultimate result is a fragmenting of society into tribal cliques that vie for power, careers, and influence on the basis of ethnic solidarity rather than shared Americanness.

History is not very kind to multicultural chaos — as opposed to a multiracial society united by a single national culture. The fates of Rwanda, Iraq, and the former Yugoslavia should remind us of our present disastrous trajectory.

Either the United States will return to a shared single language and allegiance to a common and singular culture, or it will eventually descend into clannish violence.

Does the unique American idea of federalism still work, with state rights and laws subordinate to federal law? We fought a Civil War that cost more than 600,000 lives in part to uphold the idea that individual states could not override the federal government.

Yet sanctuary cities declare that they can freely nullify federal immigration law. The California Senate passed a bill earlier this month that would prohibit the state from contracting with any firms that work on the federal government’s wall at the border with Mexico.

States such as California vow that they will ignore Washington and work directly with foreign nations to promote their own policies on global warming. Read carefully what some prominent Californians are saying about the federal government: It is not much different from what influential Confederate South Carolinians boasted about in 1860 on the eve of secession.

The national debt has almost doubled over the last eight years and at nearly $20 trillion is unsustainable.

Entitlement spending rose even as new taxes increased. The have-nots claim the haves make far too much money; the haves retort that they pay most of the income taxes while nearly half the country pays nothing. All Americans need to take a deep breath, step back, and rein in their anger — and find more ways to connect rather than divide themselves.

Most Americans agree that the present levels of borrowing and spending cannot continue. But many believe that the tough medicine to cure the disease of chronic annual deficits and mounting debt is unacceptable.

America’s infrastructure and military are vastly underfunded, even though some voters want more subsidies for themselves and apparently want others to pay for them.

America’s once-preeminent colleges and universities are fatally compromised. Universities charge far too much, resist reform, expect exemption from accountability, and assume their students must take on huge amounts of debt. Yet campuses can’t guarantee that their graduates are competently educated or that they will find jobs.

Illiberal attempts to end free speech, to sanction racial and gender segregation, and to attack rather than argue with opponents are disguised by euphemisms such as “safe spaces,” “trigger warnings,” and various -isms and -ologies.

Behind the guise of campus activism and non-negotiable demands is the reality that too many students simply are unprepared to do their assigned work and seek exemption through protests in lieu of hard studying.

America barely survived the Civil War of 1861–65, the Great Depression of 1929–39, and the rioting and protests of the 1960s. But today’s growing divides are additionally supercharged by instant Internet and social-media communications, 24/7 cable news, partisan media, and the denigration of America’s past traditions.

All Americans need to take a deep breath, step back, and rein in their anger — and find more ways to connect rather than divide themselves.

They should assume their opponents are not all sinners, and that their supporters are not all saints.

Things are bad now. But our own history suggests that if we are not careful, they can get even worse.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/448643/divided-america-people-must-connect-america-survive

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About victorhanson

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. He recently published an historical novel The End of Sparta (2012), a realistic retelling of Epaminondas invasion and liberation of Spartan-control Messenia. In The Father of Us All (2011), he collected earlier essays on warfare ancient and modern. His upcoming history The Savior Generals(2013) analyzes how five generals in the history of the West changed the course of battles against all odds. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson, who was the fifth successive generation to live in the same house on his family’s farm, was a full-time orchard and vineyard grower from 1980-1984, before joining the nearby CSU Fresno campus in 1984 to initiate a classical languages program. In 1991, he was awarded an American Philological Association Excellence in Teaching Award, which is given yearly to the country’s top undergraduate teachers of Greek and Latin. Hanson has been a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California (1992-93), a visiting professor of classics at Stanford University (1991-92), a recipient of the Eric Breindel Award for opinion journalism (2002), an Alexander Onassis Fellow (2001), and was named alumnus of the year of the University of California, Santa Cruz (2002). He was also the visiting Shifrin Professor of Military History at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland (2002-3). He received the Manhattan Institute’s Wriston Lectureship in 2004, and the 2006 Nimitz Lectureship in Military History at UC Berkeley in 2006. Hanson is the author of hundreds of articles, book reviews, scholarly papers, and newspaper editorials on matters ranging from ancient Greek, agrarian and military history to foreign affairs, domestic politics, and contemporary culture. He has written or edited 17 books, including Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece (1983; paperback ed. University of California Press, 1998); The Western Way of War (Alfred Knopf, 1989; 2d paperback ed. University of California Press, 2000); Hoplites: The Ancient Greek Battle Experience (Routledge, 1991; paperback., 1992); The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization(Free Press, 1995; 2nd paperback ed., University of California Press, 2000);Fields without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Idea (Free Press, 1996; paperback, Touchstone, 1997; The Bay Area Book reviewers Non-fiction winner for 1996); The Land Was Everything: Letters from an American Farmer (Free Press, 2000; a Los Angeles Times Notable book of the year); The Wars of the Ancient Greeks (Cassell, 1999; paperback, 2001); The Soul of Battle (Free Press, 1999, paperback, Anchor/Vintage, 2000); Carnage and Culture (Doubleday, 2001; Anchor/Vintage, 2002; a New York Times bestseller); An Autumn of War (Anchor/Vintage, 2002); Mexifornia: A State of Becoming (Encounter, 2003),Ripples of Battle (Doubleday, 2003), and Between War and Peace (Random House, 2004). A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War, was published by Random House in October 2005. It was named one of the New York Times Notable 100 Books of 2006. Hanson coauthored, with John Heath, Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (Free Press, 1998; paperback, Encounter Press, 2000); with Bruce Thornton and John Heath, Bonfire of the Humanities (ISI Books, 2001); and with Heather MacDonald, and Steven Malanga, The Immigration Solution: A Better Plan Than Today’s (Ivan Dee 2007). He edited a collection of essays on ancient warfare, Makers of Ancient Strategy (Princeton University Press, 2010). Hanson has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, New York Post, National Review, Washington Times, Commentary, The Washington Post, Claremont Review of Books, American Heritage, New Criterion, Policy Review, Wilson Quarterly, Weekly Standard, Daily Telegraph, and has been interviewed often on National Public Radio, PBS Newshour, Fox News, CNN, and C-Span’s Book TV and In-Depth. He serves on the editorial board of the Military History Quarterly, and City Journal. Since 2001, Hanson has written a weekly column for National Review Online, and in 2004, began his weekly syndicated column for Tribune Media Services. In 2006, he also began thrice-weekly blog for Pajamas Media, Works and Days. Hanson was educated at the University of California, Santa Cruz (BA, Classics, 1975, ‘highest honors’ Classics, ‘college honors’, Cowell College), the American School of Classical Studies, Athens (regular member, 1978-79) and received his Ph.D. in Classics from Stanford University in 1980. He divides his time between his forty-acre tree and vine farm near Selma, California, where he was born in 1953, and the Stanford campus.

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