Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

New Victor Davis Hanson Interview

Our ‘Corona Project’

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Whatever we eventually call it, there is a coronavirus “project.”

It’s a race to identify the origins, nature, and danger of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the best way to treat, vaccinate against, and mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 disease — all without destroying America to save it.

However the Corona Project is defined, it remains different from all previous existential American efforts. We are not building any new weapon or infrastructure or deliberately adopting a radical new policy. Much less are Americans fighting a visible enemy, poverty, or just bad habits.

Instead, we are giving ourselves massive social and economic chemotherapy to weaken or retard the virus within us before our massive therapeutic shutdown kills the U.S. economy — a sort of neutron bomb that destroys human interaction without incinerating visible infrastructure. In other words, we the patient apparently must be sickened to the point of near death in order to survive the disease.

It is certainly difficult to compare similar American mass efforts in the past. Their costs are murky — and not just because of inadequate record keeping, the adjustment of prior dollars to current time and inflation, or the need to consider the relationship between lives and money. In addition, the tab for past “wars on” something or other (e.g., alcohol, illiteracy, smoking, poverty, drugs, etc.) usually rippled out for years, both positively and negatively.

Read the full article here

Our Virus Is a Violent Teacher

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

Before this virus has passed, those of the New York Symphony, like the defeated Redcoats at proverbial Yorktown, will be playing the real “The World Turned Upside Down”:

And then strange motions will abound.
Yet let’s be content, and the times lament,
you see the world turn’d upside down.

Before the virus, apparently we were prepping for our brave new progressive, centrally planned dystopia.

During the Barack Obama years, government agencies had begun to chart a new inclusive future for hoi polloi Americans. We were lectured frequently that the Obama arc of the moral universe was long, but it always bent toward his sense of justice. Translated that meant, like it or not, we Americans had a preordained moral rendezvous with a progressive destiny.

Suburban lifestyles, yards, grass, rural living, and commute driving were to be phased out. High rises, government run-buses, and high-speed rail were in: more people in less space, with less energy consumed, meant less trouble. Granny was better off in a green rest home, not the back bedroom.

Ohio was over; the EU was our future. Clean coal was a 20th-century embarrassment; the next and future Solyndra would be cutting-edge. The idea that the United States ought to be self-sufficient in energy and food seemed worthy of yawns.

Read the full article here

Pandemic Is but One of America’s Security Concerns

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

The world was a dangerous place before — and will be after — the coronavirus pandemic.

While Americans debate the proper ongoing response to the virus and argue over the infection’s origins, nature, and trajectory, they may have tuned out other, often just as scary, news.

Many Americans are irate at China for its dishonest and lethal suppression of knowledge about the viral outbreak. But they may forget that China has other huge problems, too.

Its overseas brand is tarnished. Importers can never again be sure of the safety or reliability of Chinese exports. They will know only that their producer is a serial falsifier that is capable of anything to ensure power and profits.

Read the full article here

Victor Davis Hanson on Corona, California, and the Classical World

‘It’s a Free Country, Brother’

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

In this current crisis, the longest if not the first complete shutdown in U.S. history, the freedoms of American democracy are being tested in ways we scarcely ever imagined. Out of nowhere little Napoleonic governors arise to enact decrees prohibiting gardening or strolling on an empty beach — decrees that seem to have little purpose other than to reflect that they can do so. Snitches volunteer to out felonious social deviants who are seen cooking in the backyard with a neighbor. A little horned-devil virus seems to be trying to do what those Russkies never could.

Experts with all sorts of Ph.D.s, M.D.s, and J.D.s after their names lecture from authority about what we must right now do — or else! — on the principle that they have a scientific or technocratic prerogative to impress critics of their modeling or their demand that we shut down a $22-trillion economy for “18 months,” if need be.

A supposedly disinterested media — found by media watchdogs to be 93 percent negative in its presidential reportage before the virus crisis — envision their coverage of the Trump demon as an endless zero-sum game in which any morsel of good news for him is instantly bad for them.

In short, if American democracy were to fail to sustain itself under myriad pressures, then this would be the moment. For some, the Sixties can at last be made manifest — especially given that its aging children just impeached an American president on articles nowhere found in the Constitution, after weaponizing the FBI, CIA, and DOJ in an attempt to abort a presidential campaign and then presidency.

How fortunate, then, that in this current crisis, when one questions the logic of using a misleading denominator to ascertain viral lethality, and thus the logic of basing existential public policies on resulting case-to-fatality rates that admittedly cannot be true, one can (at least for now) keep raising skepticism without being sent to a Chinese-like reeducation camp.

Read the full article here

An Informed Public Will Always Decide on the Virus

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

A number of NRO writers have offered today some valuable cautionary data about antibody testing and herd immunity.

Certainly, one cannot yet anticipate what ongoing and planned antibody testing in particular areas might reveal. Perhaps based on anecdotal new reports and a few samplings from abroad, we might expect anything: that from 0-3 percent of the population has been previously infected, to even 15 percent.

I don’t think anyone believes that the results will reveal absolute herd immunity, which can be defined by varying high percentages, according to the infectiousness and viability of particular viruses, is now on the immediate horizon.

At least from their op-eds, interviews, and essays, many researchers who doubt the methodologies of pessimistic modeling believe that antibody testing could both correct flawed assumptions and offer some optimism — quite apart from the unlikely notion that a herd immunity of, say, 60-70 percent already exists, suggesting that the virus is just about kaput, at least for this year.

A modern bad flu peters out often, due to the combination of 30-60 million getting infected, a few million on their own social distancing, another 150-170 million being vaccinated and thus, depending on the quality of the vaccination, perhaps resulting in some of them becoming immune or better equipped to endure the infection, some with existing immunity from dozens of past flu exposures, and with some help from warming weather and more people outdoors.

Read the full article here

A Little More Light in a Vast Sea of Viral Darkness?

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Almost every day, more studies, strange data, anecdotal reporting, and theories emerge about the virus, many of which could change existing conventional wisdom. In discussions about the nature of any existing seroprevalence in California, and about how even apparently small percentages of those already infected in the population could radically alter rates of epidemic and mortality modeling, this early abstract of a recent study could be of interest. It was co-reported by a rather large team of 16 distinguished researchers conducting an early assessment of their recent antibody testing in Santa Clara County.66

They and their publisher cite customary caution due to the preliminary nature of the “unrefereed preprint” of their findings. e.g., “This article is a preprint and has not been certified by peer review.” (What does this mean?) “It reports new medical research that has yet to be evaluated and so should not be used to guide clinical practice.” But the concluding paragraph of the abstract could become of interest in its implications for both state and federal policy, especially when the data of such research are finished being peer reviewed and, if substantiated, and the findings possibly replicated in future such studies:

These prevalence estimates represent a range between 48,000 and 81,000 people infected in Santa Clara County by early April, 50-85-fold more than the number of confirmed cases. Conclusions: The population prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in Santa Clara County implies that the infection is much more widespread than indicated by the number of confirmed cases. Population prevalence estimates can now be used to calibrate epidemic and mortality projections. (Emphasis added.)

If one were to use these parameters of cases to recalibrate with the known deaths in Santa Clara County from the SARS-CoV-2 virus (increased to 69 as of yesterday), or if their percentages represented the epidemic in the state at large, then the results in a variety of ways could shed some light on, and context about, the ongoing mystery of California’s supposed number of cases and apparent fatalities to the virus (28,000 cases and 973 deaths in a state of 40 million), while suggesting that perhaps many more coastal Californians, or Californians in general, or perhaps even Americans, have previously been infected by the virus than we had heretofore imagined (with many either unaware or not overly concerned by that fact).

Read the full article here

Suppression of Expression Obscures the Truth About the Virus

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

Americans are acquainted with predictable but ultimately failed progressive efforts to suppress free expression by preemptive invective and politically correct finger-pointing.

To believe that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers revealed too many contradictions, too many lacunae, too many episodes of timely amnesia, and too many unsubstantiated accusations in their testimonies was chauvinistically to attack/smear/silence all women’s voices—at least until the same sort of memory-repressed accusations focused on handsy Joe Biden.

To express skepticism that current global temperatures are uniformly rising almost entirely due to human carbon emissions, that this state of affairs poses catastrophic dangers that may end civilization as we know it, and that this emergency can only be addressed by the radical restructuring of global economies is to be rendered a denialist, a crank, a fool.

But these parameters of censorship have a logic and predictability, given their race/class/gender/environmental orthodoxy.

Shifting Pandemic Orthodoxy

What explains the current taboo on topics regarding the coronavirus?

Read the full article here

Angry Reader 04-20-2020

From An Angry Reader:

Professor Hanson,

I am not really angry. I apologize for the subject line but I guessed that it would get my email read.

My primary complaint…..

Your last “angry reader” entry is 2/28/20.

I know you are busy, but some of us would love it (and buy it) if you had a book form of telling us about your responses to the people who didn’t think very much before they wrote to complain at you (or, just put more responses up regularly). I actually printed years of your responses to share.

My father (US Army in the Philippines) and my father-in-law served in WW2. Melinda’s (my wife’s) father earned a Silver Star and a Purple Heart for his service (Ken was on the USS Trout before it was sunk). Your book, which I have passed on to another, explained the magnitude and importance of the service they gave and amplified the meaning of their service for us. Thank you so much for that.

As an average American, living all my life in the Bay Area, I truly wish there were people like you, with their brain on fire, who would give their time to guide the masses through their mazes (which is what I perceive that you do anyway), as “politicians” dedicated to improving the lives of the people who pay their wages. What our country needs is intelligent leadership. And now, it seems, that even Birx, Fauci, and certainly Trump, read your columns or pieces and respond as if they thought what you said. You have to appreciate that! And they all know where the thinking came from.

Please help them and us all in the process. Your columns are absolutely great but you should have a cabinet post or advisory position where they could absorb reality more frequently, I think. I bet that Trump is smart enough to do that (if he hasn’t already).

Chris Almeida

Newark, CA

p.s. While looking at stuff to write this and not sound too stupid, I found that I could take online classes at Hillsdale and I will do that.

Thanks again!


Dear Not at All Angry Reader,

Thank you for your kind words and the service of your family in the country’s defense. One must discover where one’s talents can help and where they would not. In my small case, I accept I would be a poor politician and a worse public official, but, in terms of commentary rather than historical work, had some role to play as a skeptic of the current progressive agenda.

It took about 6 days to weaponize the entire virus disaster to the point where Trump is now veritably running against the virus and presented with a political paradox that if he lockdowns the country much longer, he becomes Herbert Hoover who intentionally destroyed the economy; and yet if he opens it up, he is a murderer with blood on his hands. Stranger still, such politicization of the epidemic is so hotly denied by those who did it in order to project their culpability on others who call them out.

In the old days, conservatism and liberalism were sort of bookends; the former reflecting human nature, the latter a naive confidence that with enough money and kindness we could change human nature. Not now. Liberalism is dead, progressivism killed it and the hard left of the 1960s is in control. It is intolerant and has nursed an entire new generation on the campuses who are abjectly ignorant but strangely arrogant in such vacuity.

The epidemic brought this out, both the left’s intolerance of debate and dissent, and its inability to accept that science is a constantly changing and evolving discipline as more data correct, modify, adapt, prove, and reject prior theories, and is not a tool of supposedly sophisticated and university credentialed elite.

We should believe PhDs and MDs much of the time, but when they tell us that anti-viral masks are superfluous and drain resources from the medical professionals, then the masks are sort of helpful, and then that they should be worn by all, we can legitimately conclude that their certainty about the virus is misplaced.

Sincerely, Victor Hanson

Selma, CA

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