Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

The Virtuous Can Never Be Guilty

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Since ancient times, it has always been scary when moral auditors audit their own. Or as the Roman satirist Juvenal put it of male guardians entrusted to shield chaste girls from randy males, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (“Who will watch the watchmen?”)

When humans sense that there’s neither an earthly nor divine deterrent between them and social acceptance, power, riches, or their appetites, what follows is a foregone conclusion.

Such exemption is precisely the problem with modern American progressivism. It currently enjoys almost a captive mainstream media. It assumes the lockstep approval of the university. The movies that come out of Hollywood pound progressive themes. Most foundations fund race, class, and gender agendas. Popular culture has defined cool and hip as left-wing. In sum, all the secular dispensators of moral approval are hard left.

The result is that progressive actors and institutions understand that even their bad behavior will be contextualized rather than audited. Such medieval-style exemption gives them a natural blank check to overreach and to act unethically, crudely, and even unlawfully — as they might not have if they had expected ramifications.

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About Victor Davis Hanson

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.

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