Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

The First — and a Half — Amendment

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online


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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.

29 Thoughts on “The First — and a Half — Amendment

  1. Joan Sands on May 12, 2015 at 7:58 am said:


  2. JohnnyBoy on May 12, 2015 at 9:13 am said:

    “And they are enabled by Westerners who prefer tranquility to freedom of expression.” This should be rephrased to more accurately describe the situation: “…enabled by Westerners who prefer tranquility to freedom.” There. Now isn’t that a more succinct description?

  3. We must require cartoonists of Muhammed to use bullet reloading equipment to make AK-47 rounds for Jihadists to shoot the cartoonists; whereas we shall concurrently require Jihadists to sharpen the crayons and pencils of their cartoonists… and then we will finally have Progtard Social Justice!

    And Obama will finally be pleased!

  4. DenisO on May 12, 2015 at 12:14 pm said:

    To fret and be intimidated by the Left is cowardice. They tremble that they aren’t universally taken seriously, and that some even laugh at them. They blew it again, not claiming the first Mt. Everest earthquake was coming because of man-made global “climate change”. It’s too late to claim it, now, even though they know it is true.
    To discourage them and to give courage to the “herd” of Americans who worry about being P.C., they should be mocked for their idiocy. Humorous disdain and ridicule are much more effective than the traditional whining response to their outrageous claims.
    Being laughed at is far worse than their strongest weapons, shunning and name-calling. Once America realizes that these fools are what they are, ridiculous, they are finished.
    Fewer and fewer Americans are taking them seriously, and this is a dagger they must suffer, if they are to recognize how totally gullible and silly they really appear. Let’s encourage and support good-natured ridicule. After all, they really are funny.

  5. Paul Oglebay on May 12, 2015 at 1:03 pm said:

    There have been hundreds of thousands of white slaves and indentured servants in American history. The percentage of free blacks who owned slaves in the American South during slave times was about the same as the percentage of free whites who owned slaves. There have been more white Europeans held as slaves in Africa–and generally in worse conditions–in history than there have been black Africans held as slaves in America. Gay people and Asian people on average make about 20% higher incomes in America than straight people and white people respectively. Women force men into sexual acts through drugging or some sort of physical threat, otherwise known as rape, at about the same rate as men rape women. The amount of money that goes to pro-global warming people and groups is *hundreds* of times what goes to anti-global warming alarmists. Almost no one knows these facts. Why? Because there is massive money behind providing redress to historical “victims.” These facts all explain what is colloquially known as “political correctness.” There are government grants, loans, social services, scholarships, special tax treatments, not to mention the government payments for the bureaucrats who work for the bureaucracies that administer these programs, that run to the tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars per year and millions of workers’ paychekcs. Being a victim is a big-time business. This is why liberals enforce speech so intensely. If even one high-profile person said all of these facts that I said above, it would be a mortal threat to the entire “victim”-based system of redress in the West. Over a working lifetime of several decades, this is many trillions of dollars that are at risk if even one high-profile person lets slip all of these historical facts that destroy the entire statist argument for these programs and bureaucracies. Doctor Hanson, if you were to state these facts in a nationally-syndicated column, I’d go buy all of your books as thanks and as a way to encourage you in destroying this evil “political correctness” nightmare, haha!

  6. Thank you Pamela Geller.

  7. Lisa on May 12, 2015 at 5:36 pm said:

    It may be worth pointing out that, not only does the Mormon church not protest ‘The Book of Mormon’ production, it has gone so far as to buy advertising in the playbills. The ads say something like, “If you liked the play, you’ll love the book.” If only the jihadists could learn to laugh at themselves, or at least recognize that persuasion, instead of coercion, is a better way of changing people’s attitudes.

  8. David Park on May 12, 2015 at 6:37 pm said:

    Some folks just feel guilty if everyone doesn’t agree with them. That deficit of approval causes them to doubt their convictions. They are correct in feeling guilty as it uncomfortably affirms the real truth they may wish avoid or even to deny. That also applies to the radically religious who tend toward violence. The simple fact is that an ultimate and all powerful deity who needs the hands of a mere man to do his killing is in a common sense way no deity at all. So why worship him? Why kill to satisfy his impotence?

    • Joe Toboni on May 14, 2015 at 6:33 am said:

      I suppose a god who commands men to love one another is no god at all since he could do all the loving himself. (spoiler-> That’s a non sequitur.

  9. The right to control your own contracts as an artisan is fundamentally violated by bullies who seek to force individuals, businesses and groups to write or communicate ideas with which they have a conscientious objection. Forcing bakers (artisans) to either quit their profession or give in to pressure to conform is not freedom. Freedom to contract or not to contract is so necessary in a free society that when it is abridged by civil rights commissions, it might as well not exist. Free thinking people must draw the line and say,”No further.” Forcing artisans by legal compulsion to serve others is by definition involuntary servitude. NO HUMAN NECESSITY is being violated by refusal to communicate an idea on a wedding cake that one finds objectionable.

  10. arno on May 13, 2015 at 2:56 pm said:

    Question is, what is the natural order of all those freedoms. Which one is the pillar that would have the house collapse if removed. As the picture in this article suggests, that freedom number one is the right to bear arms. Without arms there is no freedom of this, freedom of that. Forgot to celebrate 70 years VE-day?

    Who can one trust? Anyone who mentions freedom in any place other than first place must never be trusted.

    Then there’s the Orwellian combination of words into freedom-of-expression, freedom-of-religion and on and on. Orwell warned of the propaganda character of such language in his essay “politics and english language”. He is right. The construct freedom-of-speech can be transformed into hate-speech by replacing one half of the original word. The simple word “freedom” cannot.

    If the Islamists get their way, our new vocabulary will enjoy words like halal-speech, halal-this, halal-that.

  11. buybuydandavis on May 13, 2015 at 7:37 pm said:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press — except if someone finds some speech hurtful, controversial, or not helpful.”

    Not just any someone. Only a someone in a class privileged by the Progressive Theocracy.

  12. dupere on May 13, 2015 at 10:50 pm said:

    “” Who warned us of exactly what we are now becoming” By any means necessary, it’s a mad dash to aquire and squirrel away before winter sets in—- The winter the captured politicians and their advisors know is coming. The gun has been fired, bullet is midair— It’s going to hit, and now it’s just a question of timing and the ripple effect. Corporations are already trying to flee the USA, and if we respond with the slippery-slope of an Obama-type lawlessness and deeper socialism…….. Study Detroit and the like. Chigago just got junked from legacy pension issues. Hate to say this, O’malley is on point, we do need a Marshall Plan for the troubled cities before, yes before they blow up, one after the other. The captured, impotent politician, ( frustrated wives galore), if they act at all, it will be half-hearted or the wrong stuff.

  13. dupere on May 14, 2015 at 1:47 am said:

    “” yury barmin twitter””. Evade the tax man Kerry’s tuber diplomacy. May 12th tweet. “Analyst on Russia–Ex-USSR

  14. A great article. However, I suspect things will get worse before they get better. Cowardice is easy when success in other areas of life could be threatened by being brave. I imagine most everyone is guilty of that to some degree.

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  18. zygote314 on May 15, 2015 at 3:17 pm said:

    Wow, that was a fantastic essay! Thank you Dr. Hanson.

    I’ve experienced some anti-conservative censorship myself while a college student. For my nursing degree, I was required to take a sociology class. I had expected the class to be about the American Melting Pot and E Pluribus Unum, but instead it was just an odious diatribe against America that was often filled with distortions and lies. My instructor was a second generation Burmese American whose family had been lucky enough to escape the Marxist military dictatorship there. He liked to dress in an affected ghetto style and often tried to speak in the same vernacular. I thought it terribly strange that a man whose family had known first hand the oppressive horrors of a totalitarian regime would be trying to tear down the only country who’s ideals of liberty and justice had given him refuge. He consistently described America, from Georgetown to the Founding Fathers to the Civil War to Jim Crow to the Civil Rights movement, with the same overarching theme of genocidal European racism. As I was a little older than the average student and, apparently, the only person to have a basic knowledge of US history I found myself quietly outraged at being indoctrinated to Left wing political thought and his often fanciful assertions of US malfeasance. Yes, America has not always been perfect, but were still an essentially good and just nation. On one particular occasion he declared to the class that the reason we hadn’t dropped the Bomb on Nazi Germany was because the Germans looked like us, and the poor Japanese didn’t. I finally raised my hand and said, ‘but Dr.____, Germany surrendered on 8 May 1945. Trinity, the first test nuclear explosion, happened on 16 July 1945. We couldn’t have nuked Germany as we the bomb had not been invented.’ There was just silence for the next few moments. I then continued. ‘Did you know that the picturesque German city of Dresden was firebombed late in the war for apparently no particular strategic purpose? Do you know the that the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which were no doubt horrible acts of war, actually saved more lives by hastening Japanese surrender and avoiding a costly invasion? Do you know of the Japanese war crimes in Nanking, China, Korean comfort girls and the Bataan Death March? He then cut me off and said angrily, “why don’t you right me a 2,000 word essay on America’s war crimes in Vietnam and hand it to me tomorrow.”

    I didn’t write the essay, and, thankfully, he never penalized me. But it did remind me that the truth was not welcome in his class if it got in the way of his Marxist propaganda.

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  22. zygote314 on May 17, 2015 at 1:03 pm said:

    “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they don’t want to hear.”

    – George Orwell –

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  24. As usual Dr. Hanson, you speak the truth. It is most unfortunate that it appears almost impossible to have a civil conversation with a progressive since your facts are untrue regardless of the proof you have to back them up. I have given up on having such conversations and that is sad since such reluctance produces even more divisions in our country. I’m 70 years of age and have traveled throughout the world and have lived in over 60 addresses in the US, but the conversations I have had with liberals in my past, again, are almost impossible to have with those now called progressives. So sad.

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