Elite Heaven or Real Hell on Earth?

Victor Davis Hanson
American Greatness

The horrific murder of Laken Riley by a repeated felony offender and illegal alien Jose Ibarra, 26, a Venezuelan citizen, was preventable—had federal immigration laws simply been enforced by the Biden administration.

When called out in his recent State of the Union address, President Biden referenced the deceased Ms. Riley. But Biden misidentified her as “Lincoln Riley”—the USC football coach!

Biden only accurately noted that she “was killed by an “illegal.””

True—but almost immediately the left was infuriated over Biden’s accurate use of the supposedly insensitive “illegal” for the murderer Ibarra.

Biden soon apologized for correctly identifying her killer as an illegal alien—but not for misidentifying the victim.

He left the callous impression that he was more upset about offending his open-borders base than about the savage beating of a young 22-year-old American nursing student.

Biden’s woke open-borders agenda supersedes any worry over the subsequent mounting number of Americans who have fallen victim to foreign gangs and criminals. He seems oblivious to the nearly 100,000 Americans who die from fentanyl imported across open borders.

The same idea of abstract humanity juxtaposed with concrete callousness towards humans characterizes much of the current leftist agenda.

The Biden administration envisions mandating the use of electric vehicles and banning natural gas appliances. These measures will supposedly help “save” the planet—even as they make life far more expensive and dangerous for the middle class and poor in the here and now.

We are told that biologically born males who transition to females have a civil right to compete in female sports.

Such transgender activism may sound compassionate in the abstract. Yet in the concrete, thousands of women are put in danger by competing against the much larger musculoskeletal frames and natural strength of transitioning males.

Moreover, tens of thousands of young female athletes are losing opportunities to excel and set records—thus destroying over a half-century of women’s efforts to reach parity with men’s sports.

In 2021, United Airlines president Scott Kirby bragged that his company was now devoted to ensuring that fifty percent of all trained pilots would be either people of color or women.

The Federal Aviation Administration had similar diversity, equity, and inclusion mandates for hiring air traffic controllers.

In 2023, Boeing bragged that it was using “inclusion” as a criterion for executive compensation. Pay from now on would be calibrated in large part on the success of hiring new employees on the basis of their race, gender, and sexual orientation.

In the abstract, ensuring that air travel “looks like America” is no doubt a noble goal.

But if such subordination of meritocracy is canonized without proper attention to the only criterion that really matters—the safety of the nearly 3 million American airline passengers who take 45,000 flights per day—lives will be needlessly lost.

Some data and recent anecdotal evidence suggest that something has now gone dangerously wrong with the entire airline industry.

In January 2023, thousands of domestic flights were cancelled or delayed because of a series of Federal Aviation Administration computer failures. Over the last ten years, near-crashes and collisions of commercial places have more than doubled.

Even scarier, in the last two weeks alone, United Airlines suffered numerous near-catastrophic events that may have involved crew lapses, air traffic controller errors, or problems with Boeing jet construction or maintenance—or all three. Specific details have mysteriously been kept from the public.

A United flight from San Francisco to Mexico had to make an emergency landing due to failing hydraulics. Another United flight bound for San Francisco from Sydney, Australia, had to return around due to a “maintenance issue.” Yet another flight out of Chicago O’Hare International Airport likewise suffered undisclosed “maintenance issues” and returned home.

At Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, a United plane simply taxied off the runway and got stuck in the grass. Another United flight from San Francisco lost a wheel while taking off!

Yet another United flight from Houston to Florida was forced to make an emergency landing after one of its engines caught fire. At about the same time, a United flight bound for San Francisco from Hawaii experienced an engine failure in mid-flight.

Dozens were injured on a Boeing jet during a Chilean airline flight from Australia to New Zealand due to what officials called “a technical event during the flight which caused a strong movement.”

Anytime ideology and dogma trump merit, logic, and safety, the result is predictably scary and dangerous.

America needs to recalibrate its priorities to protect the lives and aspirations of all its citizens, regardless of their race and gender.

If our elites do not stop playing god and mandating their visions of heaven on earth, then they will surely ensure hell for us all.

Share This

32 thoughts on “Elite Heaven or Real Hell on Earth?”


      I’d bet that billionaires don’t use dei for the crew and maintenance workers of their private planes.

  1. You may be overthinking your conclusions. Simply put, if you are a heterosexual, Christian of European extraction you are the source of every evil & inequity in the world and the sooner you and your “ privilege”are curtailed the sooner we reach the desired goal of heaven on earth

    1. Who are you to say such despicable things? What is your background? This country, the greatest in the world, was founded by the very people you evidently hate. YOU are the problem.

    2. Hoping that this is sarc/, as I first assumed before reading replies. No one can actually generalize such blatant bigotry and fail to see humans as individuals to this extent….can they?

  2. It’s a good thing, Prof VDH, you have stopped flying so much.

    With the recent spike in near misses and potentially harmful maintenance issues, it appears to be just a matter of time before something really terrible occurs in the air. We elected to stop flying UA six months after the CEO’s declaration in 2021 in order to decrease the odds of being in an incident with UA. If driving is impracticable, maybe coach John Madden’s use of Amtrak over air travel will work for us too.

    99.9999% of the left’s agenda seems counterproductive and even backward. Their momentum suggests the election turnout this November maybe critically important.

  3. As a military veteran of more than a decade it is incomprehensible that our military is being used for social experiments. The purpose of the military is to defend the nation and should the necessity arise, kill the enemy.
    Social experiments that place that objective second to any other is simply wrong headed. A 30+ year old volunteer is being drummed out because he has opinions that differ from the woke/DEI agenda. Not that his record during basic training indicated any negative action toward other members; nor did fellow members report he is racist; it was that some snowflake objected to him having a picture of Trump on his cell phone and he stood by his convictions. Congressman Eli Crane, former Navy Seal, interviewed the command and members of his unit, determined this individual would be an solid member of any unit but was held from advancing to his next command/training unit for months and is now being discharged.
    Reports of morale in the armed forces are well below what is necessary and the recruiting levels are even worse. Other nations must be watching to see whether they can count on the USA to meet our obligations around the world.
    West Point is removing “Country” from the pledge of “Duty, Honor, Counry”. I have to ask, what the hell are they thinking!

    1. I agree with most of what you say but to be clear, it was not the “pledge” that those words were removed from, it was the mission statement. My son graduated from USMA last May and wasn’t even sure if he knew what the mission statement was. He thinks this stink is much ado about nothing – and he is as patriotic and conservative as they come. The motto of the school remains “Duty, Honor, Country”.

      1. Thanks to your son for his commitment and service to the nation.
        My mistake on confusing the motto/pledge. Thank you for the correction.

        I am still somewhat confused due to the following that I should have looked up rather than rely on a report from a previous WP grad:
        “U.S. Military Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Steven Gilland announced a major change in West Point’s mission statement Tuesday with the removal of the academy’s motto, “Duty, Honor, Country.”
        The article goes to state “After appearing in West Point’s mission statement for over two decades, “Duty, Honor, Country” will now be replaced by the words “Army Values.”

        IMO Duty, Honor, Country was pretty clear while “Army Values” seem ambiguious to say the least.

        Anyway, thanks to your son again and be safe.

        The link to the article

  4. God’s standard is capital punishment for murderers. Government exists to uphold God’s moral law and to punish violators for taking the life of innocent human beings.

    Genesis 9: 5,6 And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.”

    Matthew 26: 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into is place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”

    Romans 13: 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain.

    1. Carole Serling

      Thank you, Peter, for your citing of these important Biblical passages regarding what is effectively capital punishment. I have some liberal friends, and there is not one among them that thinks it is right to execute a murderer who acted with malice aforethought (premeditated). I have talked with them about this, as they are Christians like myself, but they just cannot bring themselves to support capital punishment for these murderers. They do not like violence and think that the state cannot do what the murderer also did…..kill another human being, and they equate the two. They kind of see how, for example, a vicious murderer who tortures then burns victims alive probably deserves death, but they just can’t bring themselves to advocate for it. In my mind, it boils down to the fact that they reject the gospel and think they know better and feel more righteous for sparing the life of one who willfully took the life of another human made in God’s image. If I were queen, all those over the age of 18 who commit premeditated murder would have six months maximum to present any evidence in hopes of being spared death, and then, after that effort is deemed unsuccessful, the next day the person would be executed.

      1. Thank you, Carole, for elaborating on the issue of capital punishment and bringing out some real-life examples and reasoning for opposition.

        I believe that you are correct that people reject capital punishment because they reject God’s teaching for murderers. As Genesis 9:5,6 explain, capital crimes warrant capital punishment because God has made the victim in his own image. The punishment is great because the crime is great.

        God’s image in man is a special distinctive from other living creatures. Man is created to be like God in his intellect, emotions, and will. Man shares God’s relational character to know, be known, communicate, share and to love others and God. To violate God’s image in a victim is a capital crime.

  5. R Fuller Booker

    You can have diversity or you can have excellence/meritocracy. You cannot have both. As Heather Macdonald has extensively written about, there are not enough qualified “diverse” candidates (especially technical ones like airline pilots) for all of the positions that need to be filled. This is due to poor schools, and other factors in minority communities (causes of which can be debated by reasonable people), but it is the truth. The perfect example; however, is that of the NBA. Would anyone doubt, that having a diversity quota for the NBA would degrade the league?! There are simply not enough white tall outstanding basketball players to make the league “representative” of the Country, and maintain quality of the league. So it goes in many areas. We must maintain the meritocracy, and eschew diversity quotas.

  6. I dislike the concepts of those such as ”50% of our trained pilots will be women or people of color.” Et al. But you seem to make the jump from all the recent airline incidents to this type of policy. Isn’t it too early to imply that these policies are (maybe…likely…) the cause of any or a lot of them?

    1. Would it not be obvious that hiring for biological characteristics, rather than ability, in order to uphold quotas, is dangerous to public safety? Is evidence even needed?

      It seems that we live in an age when what would be easy to see (voter fraud due to no chain-of-custody, an increase in accidents when hiring by “diversity” rather than merit, trusting students to learn properly online without adult presence, etc.)are now matters needing “evidence” — when 20th century citizens could see these things by inherent logic.

  7. This also shows the fruits of abandoning classic virtues and Judeo-Christian mores. A society that cannot distinguish between female and male, will encounter other problems in truth telling. Capitalism is a good, but allowed to run amok can do great damage. The Wall Street journal investigations revealed a Boeing subcontractor that fired and transferred Quality inspectors, that found too many errors in aircraft fuselages/airframes. I worked my career in manufacturing, reworking errors in products is costly. Of course there is also a cost if the customer finds the error or fault in the product. Courage divorced from enterprise and truth is a dangerous mixture.

  8. Charmaine Vernon

    Thank you V D Hanson for your clarity – clear thinking- and excellent essays on our changing America.
    I hope many will listen and use your work and words of warning to preserve our once-great nation.

  9. Wallace Hartley

    Have tried to get a email to VDH, or his staff offering support of both. The one email address I found is not accepting my email. Is there a email address that I can use to get in touch with at least his staff?

  10. Unfortunately the United States has been taken over by leftist democrats who are willfully destroying the country as we know it.
    Making it into a communist state. It started with Obama. He said he was going to reshape the United States into something we had never seen. It’s happened and no one will stop it.
    The politicians are not interested in stopping it.
    They promote it

  11. Mary Ann Johnston

    Your cogent insights frame the issues objectively and accurately. Title VII protections are replaced with woke ideals and gender constructs that originated in academia. You call illegal entry into the USA what it is, illegal. Thank you for sharing your thoughtful and timely analysis.

  12. If I am ever on a crashing airplane on it’s descent to my doom, I will take great comfort knowing the incompetent pilot is black/homosexual/female. I’m old enough to remember the golden days of air travel and plan to never fly in a plane anywhere ever again, so I bought an RV.

  13. John Humphries

    Great and timely article. This is another example of the ongoing Marxist revolution taking place in USA. The Elite Marxist don’t believe in heaven or hell as they prefer to eliminate all religion. Unfortunately, our country is well on its way to become a Banana Republic.

  14. “If our elites do not stop playing god and mandating their visions of heaven on earth, then they will surely ensure hell for us all”.

    Hell is certainly not a place to live in!!

    God in heaven helps us all to repent and turn our whole hearts upward to our heavenly Father before it’s too late!!

    God is not mocked what you sow you will reap!!

    Galatians 6:7-8
    Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

    our dear heavenly, FATHER!!

  15. Pepe Sobreruedas (Miami, FL)

    I love your metaphorically and almost poetically inspired last paragraph…It’s always a pleasure to read you Victor…And I’m so glad and grateful that smart phones provide an easily accessible dictionary so that I don’t have to be flipping thru “old school” six inches thick mammoths so I can keep expanding my vocabulary thanks to your writings…You’re a teacher in everything you do, too bad you’ll never truly know how many students you’ve influenced whom are also grateful to you…I’m one of them although we’ve never met…Thank you for all of your hard work..

  16. One thing you missed about United Airlines’ Scott Kirby…he is a transexual/transvestite. He was, ahem, exposed shortly after his interview where he blatantly violates the Civil Rights Act. We are ruled by reprobate degenerates under the blackmail cabal known as Federal Intelligence and Enforcement Agencies. I suspect you know this very well. When are we going to address it?

  17. Victor,

    I agree that the Biden Administration’s choice to ignore Federal immigration law can be directly linked to the murder of Lakin Riley. There is a larger point that you are missing. The city of Athens and Clarke County have voted overwhelmingly for Democrats. As a result, tragedies like this are going to happen more often. This crime is in the national news because of the brutality of the crime. If localities vote Democrat, they are voting their acceptance of this. There is a reason this murderer did not flee to Sturgis, South Dakota or Greenwood, Indiana.

    The open borders policies of the Democrats and the Establishment Republicans are the result of people voting for them. The mayor of Athens was elected, Bragg was elected, Lankford elected, AOC, whose district now resembles a third world shithole, was elected. It needs to be said, if you do not like it, quit voting Democrat and Establishment Republicans.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *