Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Waging War Against the Dead

Victor Davis Hanson // American Greatness

The 21st century is in danger of becoming an era of statue smashing and historical erasure. Not since the iconoclasts of the Byzantine Empire or the epidemic of statue destruction during the French Revolution has the world seen anything like the current war on the past.

In 2001, the primeval Taliban blew up two ancient Buddha statues in Afghanistan on grounds that their very existence was sacrilegious to Islam.

In 2015, ISIS militants entered a museum in Mosul, Iraq, and destroyed ancient, pre-Islamic statues and idols. Their mute crime? These artifacts predated the prophet Muhammad.

The West prides itself in the idea that liberal societies would never descend into such nihilism. Think again.

In the last two years there has been a rash of statue toppling throughout the American South, aimed at wiping out memorialization of Confederate heroes. The pretense is that the Civil War can only be regarded as tragic in terms of the present oppression of the descendants of Southern slaves—154 years after the extinction of the Confederate states.

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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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