The Thin Veneer of American Civilization

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Nine months ago, New York was a thriving, though poorly governed, metropolis. It was coasting on the more or less good governance of its prior two mayors and on its ancestral role as the global nexus of finance and capital.

The city is now something out of a postmodern apocalyptic movie, reeling from the effects of a neutron bomb. Ditto in varying degrees Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco — the anti-broken-windows metropolises of America. Walking in San Francisco today reminds me of visiting Old Cairo in 1973, although the latter lacked the needles and feces of the former.

At the present increasing rate of police defunding, homeless encampments, the emptying of jails and prisons, the green-lighting of rioting and vandalism, the flight of the wealthy, the revolutionary change to Skype/Zoom tele-working, and the exodus of upper-middle-class liberal families to safe houses in the New York and New England countryside, once beautiful New York City is in danger of becoming the nation’s aneurysm. That is, after the “recovery,” it and other blue cities may be seen as permanent weak veins and arteries prone to sudden fatal hemorrhaging that could implode at any moment, and thus may become metaphorically tied off, as the country reroutes around them.

In the old days of 2019, tolerant Americans more or less accepted that finely crafted statues of sometimes less than inspiring and formerly illustrious (to some) heroes were part of our history. For example, integral to California’s rich historical culture were its missions, acknowledged by Father Serra’s numerous eponymous streets and statues. No one in his right mind believed that renaming a mall named Serra at Stanford University would help mitigate the weekend murder rate in Chicago or the endemic poverty of illegal aliens in my own neighborhood.

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