Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

The Moral Decline of Oprah

by Victor Davis Hanson // NRO’s The Corner 

Multi-billionaire Oprah Winfrey, after her surreal $38,000 handbag “racism” encounter in Switzerland, has just weighed in again on race and the presidency, as yet the nth way of hyping her new film: “There’s a level of disrespect for the office that occurs. And that occurs in some cases and maybe even many cases because he’s African American. There’s no question about that and it’s the kind of thing nobody ever says but everybody’s thinking it.”Photo Credit: Vaguely Artistic via Flickr

Nobody ever says? Has she read a newspaper columnist or turned on MSNBC lately?

Aside from her historical ignorance, Oprah Winfrey has increasingly turned to the race card to explain the president’s plummeting polls. In her race-obsessed world, Syria, Benghazi, the NSA, IRS, AP, and ACA messes do not explain why a reelected president crashes from a recent 60 percent approval rating to less than 40 percent in less than a year.

Instead, in Oprah’s no-win, racialist world, to the degree that Obama is popular, Americans are considered for the time being as not racist; to the degree that he is not, the country suddenly is collectively under suspicion (e.g., “everybody’s thinking it”).

That Obama might be utterly inexperienced in the manner of Jimmy Carter, less than veracious in the manner of the impeached Bill Clinton, or suffering the same second-term blues of Ronald Reagan during Iran-Contra or popularity crash of George W. Bush after Katrina simply cannot for Oprah be true of an African-American president, who for some reason must not suffer the same fate and treatment as almost all who have held the highest office. Instead, in this raciallyobsessed world of Oprah, that Obama is faring no different from his predecessors is now the country’s fault. And as remedy, he must be given deference if the country wishes to avoid the latest therapeutic rant from Oprah.

In fact, Oprah has no record of worrying about the level of disrespect shown the office. If she did, she might have said something a few years ago when her president was routinely being compared to a Nazi, and often by her own fellow celebrities, writers, politicians, civil-rights activists, and filmmakers. That she said nothing then, but now says a lot, explains not America’s problem with race, but her own race obsessions, which have blinded her to her own prejudices and hypocrisies.

I don’t recall Oprah objecting when Bush was routinely shouted down. Did she deplore Al Gore calling the Bush team “digital brownshirts”? Or maybe John Glenn invoking the Nazis (“It’s the old Hitler business”) to talk about her president? Nor do I remember her weighing in on Linda Ronstadt’s claim that the Bush administration was “a new bunch of Hitlers.” Harry Belafonte and Julian Bond both routinely labeled their conservative opponents as little more than Nazis or KKK racists. Nor did Oprah note that “there’s a level of disrespect for the office that occurs” when Barbra Streisand compared Bush to Hermann Goering. Was she worried when Alfred A. Knopf published a novel about musing how to kill Bush? Or by a prize-winning docudrama film imagining the killing of Bush? What was her reaction a New York play, “I’m Gonna Kill the President,” was produced? Did Oprah once give a similar BBC interview about the office of the president and disrespect shown it in 2004 when a guest columnist in the Guardian, Charles Brooker, wrote: “On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod’s law dictates he’ll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr. — where are you now that we need you?”

What might explain her outrage now about criticism shown Obama, but silence just recently when abject hatred and dreams of violence were voiced against her president? That answer may explain a lot about what Oprah has become.

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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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