by Victor Davis Hanson
There are a number of improbables, anomalies, paradoxes, ironies, absurdities — call them what you wish — on the national scene that simply defy reason. We usually fault an ignorant media as culpable for creating narratives that have no basis in fact and yet are rarely questioned. Here are some of the glaring examples and you decide how the unlikely became the gospel.
1. How did 20-minutes-of-fame Julian Assange construct the façade of an idealistic crusading electronic muckraker?
He seems much more like a part P.T. Barnum showman/part celebrity narcissist. While promising to embarrass a number of banks and capitalist CEOs, he just contracted for $1.7 million in book deal advances — after enjoying his house “arrest” at the mansion of a supportive aristocrat, and after protesting the unwanted fame that has come his way rather than to be shared among the WikiLeaks board.
Assange talks of absolute transparency as an ipso facto virtue, but is shocked that his own protocols of leaking now are turned on himself — as we learn from preliminary legal leaks that he is a sexual cad at best, and more likely a creepy sort of honey-tongued predator. Amid his jet-set Westernized odysseys — predicated on the bounty and security of US-European culture — Assange was certainly not too eager to root out and leak to us many state secrets from Russia, China, or Iran. What would we think of Assange had he given credit to his team at WikiLeaks; globe-trotted in Africa, the Middle East, China, and Russia to inform the world about Mugabe, Chinese plans toward Tibet, Ahmadinejad’s nuke project, or Putin’s attack on dissidents; or donated his profits to dissidents?
2. When did global warming so easily get away with becoming “climate change”? With record winter low temperatures again this year in Europe, and similar freezing weather in the US, we are given a number of contorted exegeses from climatologists and green activists that, in fact, argue terrible cold is proof of global warming. One wonders: if it were now 80 degrees in New York or dry and 70 degrees in London, would we be told such unseasonable heat was not an artifact, but likewise real proof of climate change?
Philology usually is a good barometer of ideology: when global warming became climate change and now is evolving to “climate chaos,” you can see a case study in deductive thinking, as symptoms are fudged to conform to a preexisting diagnosis. Circular reasoning also is characteristic: we convince the coal-devouring and nuclear-producing Chinese that there is a soon to be big (Western-subsidized) global market for wind turbines and solar panels, given the spread of Gorism among Western elites and grandees, then we frighten Americans that the Chinese will soon capture the entire “green” market that we fostered unless we … (fill in the cap and trade/green subsidy-grant blanks).
3. How did authoritarian and Islamist Palestinian groups become reinvented into traditional Western victimized minorities — analogous to women, gays, and minorities? Hamas, for example, is not known for free speech, gender equity, tolerance of homosexuality, or equality of the races (cf. the past West Bank newspaper cartoons of Sec. Condoleezza Rice). Visit any campus free speech area, and the PA or pro-Hamas literature is handed out right next to the Latino, black, gay, Native American, or feminist booths. Go to the Voice of Aztlan website, and the pro-Palestinian anti-Semitic rants appear cheek by jowl with Alta California chauvinism. How did such an intolerant illiberal movement piggy-back onto self-proclaimed progressive agendas? Multiculturalism? Anti-Semitism? Oil interests? Fear of terror? I suppose the transmogrification of a tiny outnumbered Israel of 1966 into a surrogate United States — its seven-million population now supposedly lording its “excessive” power over 400 million Arabs in the Middle East — explains a lot too.
4. How did professors convince us that their universities are progressive, anti-capitalist, and against the grain institutions? Private elite schools — a Yale, a Stanford, a Princeton, a Vassar — exist by reason of their endowments, gifts that in large part come from the very wealthy who excelled under the capitalist system. Part-time lecturers and temporary faculty usually teach classes for pennies on the university dollar. The difference between a Wal-Mart greeter and a Wal-Mart check-out clerk is far less than the pay differential for the same class taught by a part-timer versus a full professor.
Few institutions have created such an elite aristocratic hierarchy — tenure, vast pay discrepancies for classes, annual salary based on 3/5s of the year in the classroom, peer reviews in lieu of quantifiable data on performance, lack of oversight — as the reactionary university.
5. How did Barack Obama invent himself into a bi-partisan, working across the aisle, no-more-red-state/blue-state unifying figure? Mellifluous rhetoric and a partisan myth helped to promulgate that myth, I grant. But still, how did the U.S senator with the most partisan voting record in the Senate (to the left of the socialist Bernie Sanders from Vermont) and a devout attendee of one of the most divisive and racist preachers imaginable refashion himself so successfully? Was it the simple declarations — as in something like “I say I am bipartisan, therefore I am bipartisan”? Did all forget that our pre-mid-term election president evoked phrases such as “enemies,” “sit in the back of the car,” and “hand to hand”?
No matter — as soon as Obama was “shellacked” with a 63 seat loss in the House, and his polls hit 42 percent approval, he dropped all the prior rhetoric about “I won and you lost” or “elections matter” — and now announced to his “enemies” that he could “work together” to get things done. Had Obama increased the House Democratic majority by 30 more seats in November, would he now be praising the virtues of bipartisanship? Had the vanity of Rev Wright not convinced the huckster preacher to hawk his Trinity racist rants on incriminating DVDs, would he now be a frequent “healing” presence at the White House?
Lurking somewhere behind all these improbables is a rather small Western elite that is enormously influential in the media, government, the arts, universities, and Hollywood. And what it would like to believe, often simply must be believed — and so it usually is.
©2010 Victor Davis Hanson