Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Peak Jacobinism?

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

The Jacobin Left is just now beginning to get edgy. 

A few of its appeasers and abettors are becoming embarrassed by some of the outright racists and nihilists of BLM and the Maoists of Antifa — and their wannabe hangers-on who troll the Internet hoping to scalp some minor celebrity. 

The woke rich too are worried over talk about substantial wealth, capital-gains, and income taxes, even though they have the resources to navigate around the legislation from their wink-and-nod brethren. Soon, even Hunter Biden and the Clintons could be checking in with their legal teams to see how much it will cost them to get around the Squad’s new tax plan.

The lines are thinning a bit for the guillotine. And the guillotiners are starting to panic as they glimpse faces of a restless mob always starved for something to top last night’s torching. Finally, even looters and arsonists get tired of doing the same old, same old each night. They get bored with the puerile bullhorn chants, the on-spec spray-paint defacement, and the petite fascists among them who hog the megaphones. For the lazy and bored, statue toppling — all of those ropes, those icky pry bars, those heavy sledgehammers, and so much pulling — becomes hard work, especially as the police, camera crews, and fisticuffs thin out on the ground. And the easy bronze and stone prey are now mostly rubble. Now it’s either the big, tough stuff like Mount Rushmore or the crazy targets like Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. 

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Trump Needs to Scale the Real Wall of 2020

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

Donald Trump is trying to break through a 2020 wall. 

By January 2019, after over three years of failed efforts to impeach him, sue him, indict him, impoverish him, and destroy him, the Left had failed. The economy was booming. Trump’s tweets were mostly bragging about his accomplishments. And the Left was dumbfounded that both impeachment and Mueller, in Nietzschean fashion, had only made Trump stronger.

Then came an unexpected trifecta catastrophe—plague, a quarantine-induced recession, and a leftist cultural revolution in the streets. Suddenly, the Left saw all of that as a gift that might succeed where its own self-constructed melodramas had failed.

By late May, Trump’s polls had dived. 

His enemies declared this time he was really, actually, truly finished. NeverTrumpers hit the media to boast they were finally redeemed. 

The discredited pollsters of 2016 reemerged, this time even convincing once-burned, never-again Las Vegas bookies that Trump was toast. Leftists, depressed over the progressive implosion in the Democratic primaries, now rebranded Joe Biden as a useful septuagenarian. He could carry them to victory before being pushed aside. 

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Year Zero

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Every cultural revolution starts at year zero, whether explicitly or implicitly. The French Revolution recalibrated the calendar to begin anew, and the genocidal Pol Pot declared his own Cambodian revolutionary ascension as the beginning of time.

Somewhere after May 25, 2020, the death of George Floyd, while in police custody, sparked demonstrations, protests, and riots. And they in turn ushered in a new revolutionary moment. Or at least we were told that — in part by Black Lives Matter, in part by Antifa, in part by terrified enablers in the corporate world, the new Democratic Party, the military, the universities, and the media.

What was uniquely different about this cultural revolution was how willing and quickly the entire progressive establishment — elected officials, celebrities, media, universities, foundations, retired military — was either on the side of the revolution or saw it as useful in aborting the Trump presidency, or was terrified it would be targeted and so wished to appease the Jacobins.

This reborn America was to end all of the old that had come before and supposedly pay penance for George Floyd’s death and, by symbolic extension, America’s inherent evil since 1619. As in all cultural revolutions, the protestors claimed at first at that they wanted only to erase supposedly reactionary elements: Confederate statues, movies such as Gone with the Wind, some hurtful cartoons, and a few cranky conservative professors and what not.

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The Fragility of the Woke

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

A TikTok video that recently went viral on social media showed a recent Harvard graduate threatening to stab anyone who said “all lives matter.” In her melodrama, she tried to sound intimidating with her histrionics.

She won a huge audience, as she intended. But her video also came to the attention of the company that was going to give her an internship later this summer, Deloitte, which decided it didn’t want to add an intern who threatened to kill strangers who said something she didn’t like.

This wouldn’t have been much of a story. But then the narcissistic Harvard alum posted a very different video — one that showed her weeping in a near-fetal position.

She fought back tears while complaining about how unfair the world had been to her. Her initial TikTok post had earned cruel pushback from the social-media jungle she had courted. Deloitte, she sobbed, was mean and hurtful. And she wanted the world to share her pain.

The Harvard grad instantly became an unwitting poster girl for the current protest movement and the violence that has accompanied it. What turns off millions of Americans about the statue toppling, the looting, the threats, and the screaming in the face of police is the schizophrenic behavior of so many of the would-be revolutionaries.

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Angry Reader 07-07-2020

From An Angry Reader:

Subject: Fox News appearance

Hi, As I watched you on McCallum’s show sort of hesitantly and with some confusion discuss your claims about Biden’s cognitive state, my mom’s dementia came to mind. I recommend you take the usual battery of tests to determine where you are on the spectrum…and perhaps refrain from discussing this topic (just in terms of low credibility). Good luck! CVS.

Cathy Scott

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Dear Angry Reader Cathy Scott,

You need to quantify evidence of my dementia—with wrong referents, incorrect data, or inability to answer a question.

If I sounded hesitant on that interview it might be because I was scheduled to debate a Biden supporter and after my opening statement, his connection he said went dead and we waited for his response that did not come—a hiatus which in turn prompted the host to reset the interview and, after a pause, have me go on with another answer.

But again, my argument was not based on my own perceptions.

As I pointed out, I simply echoed what 20 percent of Democratic voters have expressed in polls, what Democratic handlers take for granted when they urge Biden to stay right where he is in his basement and do only occasional scripted interviews, why Democrats view the Vice Presidential nomination as a de facto presidential nomination and a way to advance a leftist candidate into the White House who would have otherwise never have advanced through the primary elections, or as the formal head of the ticket in a general election, and the now large corpus of bizarre Bidenisms that range from strange stories about Corn-Pop to moments of dead silence, to confusion as to where he is and to whom he is speaking, etc. Had the other debater’s sound connection not belatedly resumed, I would have finished by noting that Biden also has a long-chronicled habit of touching, squeezing, and blowing on the hair of women, some pre-teen, violating their personal space, and in general earning the ire of a number of women who resent his creepy omnipresence—a topic that for some reason is taboo in his case. VDH.

Victor Hanson

An Industry of Untruth

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

The current revolution is based on a series of lies, misrepresentations, and distortions, whose weight will soon sink it.

Viral confusion

Unfortunately few in authority have been more wrong, and yet more self-righteously wrong, than the esteemed Dr. Anthony Fauci. Given his long service as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and his stature during the AIDS crisis, he has rightly been held up by the media as the gold standard of coronavirus information. The media has constructed Fauci as a constant corrective of Trump’s supposed “lies” about the utility of travel bans, analogies with a bad flu year, and logical endorsement of hydroxychloroquine as a “what do you have to lose” possible therapy.

But the omnipresent Fauci himself unfortunately has now lost credibility. The reason is that he has offered authoritative advice about facts, which either were not known or could not have been known at the time of his declarations.

Since January, Fauci has variously advised the nation both that the coronavirus probably was unlikely to cause a major health crisis in the United States and later that it might yet kill 240,000 Americans. In January, he praised China for its transparent handling of the coronavirus epidemic, not much later he conceded that perhaps they’d done a poor job of that. He has cautioned that the virus both poses low risks and, later, high risks, for Americans. Wearing masks, Fauci warned, was both of little utility and yet, later, essential. Hydroxychloroquine, he huffed, had little utility; when studies showed that it did, he still has kept mostly silent.

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Angry Reader 07-06-2020

From An Angry Reader:

Professor Hanson:

In your recent article Class, Not Race, Divides America, you said:

Whatever Trump was, he talked to blacks just as he talked to everyone else—same accent, same mannerism, same vocabulary. He was not going to feign a black patois and pander in the Joe Biden style of “Put y’all back in chains” or “You ain’t black,” or reinvent himself in Hillary Clinton fashion as a civil rights veteran possessed of a phony drawl, “I don’t feel no ways tired. I come too far . . . ” Think of the logic driving these white liberal elites: “Blacks cannot understand my good English, so I will descend into their poor grammar, diction, and syntax to feign ‘y’all’ and ‘ain’t’ and ‘no ways tired.’”

I think maybe you are right, and probably you are more right than wrong. But it could be that the way Hillary, Biden, and Obama spoke were just efforts to blend, or to connect with their audiences, and there is nothing wrong with that. Trump used twitter and street language or layman terms, or even behaved and acted like one of the labor, low-income class when speaking as though he himself is a citizen, not a president, is another way to connect to his audiences.

Both ways are ok in my opinion, and the emphasis should be how genuinely one speaks. Trump in your eye is genuine even if crude, but who knows if he is a talented actor who went further by standing in with the crowd when in fact he is just an arrogant racist.

To be honest, I agree with you more than with the other medias (who provide too much criticisms without sound analysis) in many matters including Trump’s character. Writing to a well-known professor like you is very uncomfortable, you can guess, but I dare saying my thought because I am inspired by your articles and I am encouraged by your answers to other angry readers that you don’t mind if one has a point to discuss.

Thank you for reading my letter. I wish you well.

Nghia Vu

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Dear Calm and Thoughtful Angry Reader Nghia Vu,

I give you only a 1 (the lower the score, the more professional the angry reader letter), given your letter does not contain the usual three-dot ellipses, capitalizations, exclamation points, profanity, threats, and general incoherence. It reflects a calmer and more thoughtful “angry” reader.

I agree that all politicians pander to a degree, but my point was that Trump does not seem to modulate his accent and mannerisms to fit the sociology and race/ethnicity of particular crowds, at least in the manner that Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and, yes, even Barack Obama did. From what we know, Trump’s accent, grammar, and vocabulary are not contingent on his audience, as his critics note in their disparagement.

I confess I lose your train of thought with “but who knows if he is a talented actor who went further by standing in with the crowd when in fact he is just an arrogant racist.” If you mean Trump tries to disguise his tough talk on sensitive issues, I suggest that he does not. His critics go ballistic precisely because he says anything to anyone, anywhere, and anytime, without filters, euphemisms, or equivocation. His enemies are shocked at his directness; he handlers worried that he needlessly is so explicit.

I don’t mind at all discussing your points. A final one: I agree with those who judge one’s temperament and ideology on what one does rather than what one is interpreted as saying. Take two examples: Trump’s supposed “racism,” and his “Russian collusion.”

Trump’s policies lowered minority unemployment to record levels. He sought to reduce prison-terms for felony drug crimes that he said fell inordinately upon blacks; he championed inner-city charter schools, as well as tax-exempt enterprise zones; he has pardoned, paroled, or commuted the sentences of a number of African-Americans whom he felt were inordinately sentenced beyond what their convictions warranted.

On collusion, Trump has said many wild things about the Russians—most infamously joking that perhaps they could help find Hillary’s deleted emails.

But what he has done far exceeds anything punitive from the “reset” Obama administration: he upped sanctions on Russia, he got out of an asymmetrical agreement with Russia on short-range missiles, he sold weapons to Ukraine, he jawboned against the Germany-Russia natural gas deal, he killed Russian mercenaries in Syria, he crashed world oil and natural gas prices, the essence of the Russian economy, by green lighting horizontal drilling and fracking, and he upped the U.S. defense budget and pressed NATO members to keep their promises—all to the chagrin of Vladimir Putin.

Trump says all sorts of things in his art-of-the-deal manner, and the media often report things he didn’t say as if he did. What Trump actually does is what counts, and he has done more for the African-American community than most prior presidents.

Thank you for your letter.

Victor Hanson

Universities Sowing the Seeds of Their Own Obsolescence

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

When mobs tore down a statue of Ulysses S. Grant and defaced a monument to African-American veterans of the Civil War, many people wondered whether the protesters had ever learned anything in high school or college.

Did any of these iconoclasts know the difference between Grant and Robert E. Lee? Could they recognize the name “Gettysburg”? Could they even identify the decade in which the Civil War was fought?

Universities are certainly teaching our youth to be confident, loud, and self-righteous. But the media blitz during these last several weeks of protests, riots, and looting also revealed a generation that is poorly educated and yet petulant and self-assured without justification.

Many of the young people on the televised front lines of the protests are in their 20s. But most appear juvenile, at least in comparison to their grandparents — survivors of the Great Depression and World War II.

How can so many so sheltered and prolonged adolescents claim to be all-knowing?

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When States Go Wild

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

In past rioting, over the last 60 years, mayors, police chiefs, and governors restored law and order. They often beseeched the federal government for backup when they were unsure of their efforts.

Now, in a first, they are more often passive in the face of massive lawlessness and disorder. Some blue-state officials, in neo-Confederate style, silently sympathize with their local protests, violent though they are. Others are willing to endure chaos in hopes it reflects national anarchy that can be attributed to Trump’s inert leadership come November. Still more are not sure they have reached the tipping point where the once passive or sympathetic suburbanite or inner-city resident trapped at home finally pushes back due to a busy signal on a 911 call, or a nice park littered with bronze and stone corpses of even liberal icons, or a major thoroughfare once again shut down by illegal hood-pounding demonstrators.

Trump can call in federal troops to restore order to downtown Seattle or calm in parks in San Francisco, but given that he will have zero local support in blue states that have a monopoly on the violence (the D.C. mayor evicting Guard personnel from hotels, or the Seattle mayor warning him to stay away from her “summer of love” non problem), who knows what would greet federal troops in blue land?

In addition, our most esteemed retired military, in unprecedented fashion, essentially have called the president unfit and not deserving of military support to deal with the “small number” of violent protestors — to the degree that Joe Biden interpreted their “skinned him alive” commentary as support for removing Trump from office if he did not leave after losing the election — “losing” apparently defined by Biden on the basis of whether Biden himself determines Trump cheated and thus “stole” his victory.

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When the Bidexit?

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

We have reached a strange impasse in the campaign in which weakness is seen as strength. The fact that Biden is cognitively impaired and hiding in his basement in virtual incommunicado is now seen as a valuable strategy, given that Trump is dealing with the virus, lockdowns, the economy, and a pandemic of lawlessness and chaos — and  down in the polls.

So Biden shows no sign of moving out, and we should expect that as long as he thinks — correctly for now — that it’s a winning strategy, he will offer no detailed agenda other than as the virtual non-Trump. His surrogates will begin a campaign to end the idea of debates. Mail-in balloting will become a test of whether or not one is a racist. A virtual Zoom candidacy is not an impossibility.

Biden seems to concede that to venture out is synonymous with illustrations of his own cognitive impairment. What might prompt his return to the aether?

One, if Trump’s aggregate polls inched back up from 42 or so to where they are usually after recovering from serial melodramas (Mueller, Ukraine, impeachment, COVID, lockdown, etc.) at around 45­-47 approval, then at that point, Biden would move.

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