Victor Davis Hanson: “A License to Hate” now in America
written by Karen Hagestad Cacy Jan 26, 2019
COLORADO SPRINGS: Where has America gone? Is it hiding somewhere, waiting for socialists to burn themselves out? Or is it dead, but not yet buried? Who would have thought that a group of self-anointed “culture warriors,” could be successful in killing off America?
Who, in 1960, took the communist leader, Nikita Khrushchev, seriously when he promised,
“We cannot expect Americans to jump from capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving Americans small doses of socialism until they suddenly awake to find they have “Communism.”
That was then. And this is now. Americans may remember the warning as, seventy-eight years later, they witness the decaying of law and order in America. And America’s swift replacement with a stiff, tutorial, totalitarian judgment government?
One such man is “Child of the Sixties,” Victor Davis Hanson.
He describes himself as ‘writer, historian, and farmer.’
Born in 1953, Hanson is a classicist and military historian. He has been a commentator on modern and ancient warfare and contemporary politics for numerous media outlets.
Hanson is a professor emeritus of classics at California State University, Fresno. Currently Hanson is at the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in classics and military history at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.
He is the author of “Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power,” (2001,) a New York Times best-selling book.
Based on these credentials, Hanson may have a thing or two to say about the “Fall of Western Power.”
In his cogent observances, it’s clear that he does. With regret, he regularly chronicles the lack of logic, common sense, and knowledge of America many are showing in 2019.
Without revisiting the “Russian Connection,” Hanson watches the deterioration of our culture and politics. He applies reason and logic when all about him are losing their heads.
A recent article by Hanson, “A License to Hate,” delves into the rise of hatred in American civil discourse.
“Recently on CNN, former Republican politico and now Never Trump cable news analyst Rick Wilson characterized Donald Trump’s supporters as his ‘credulous rube ten-toothed base.’
“Wilson was not original in his smear of the 63 million Americans who voted for Trump. He was likely resonating an earlier slander of Politico reporter Marco Caputo. The latter had tweeted of the crowd he saw at a Trump rally: ‘If you put everyone’s mouths together in this video, you’d get a full set of teeth.’”
“Was the point of these stereotypes that poor white working-class people who supposedly voted for the controversial Trump understandably ate improperly, did not practice proper dental hygiene, or did not visit dentists — or all three combined? When challenged, Caputo doubled down on his invective. He snarled, ‘Oh no! I made fun of garbage people jeering at another person as they falsely accused him of lying and flipped him off. Someone fetch a fainting couch.’”
I know you are, but what am I?
Today, it’s a common occurrence for political critics to resort to school-yard invectives rather than reasoned criticism based in fact and logic.
“I know you are, but what am I?” seems the order of the day.
Today’s culture during a partial federal government shut-down, shows a house speaker disinviting the president to deliver the State of the Union Address from “her” floor. And a president countering with the cancellation of madam’s European trip via military plane.
It’s a race to the bottom as culture’s erosion has seeped into every nook and cranny of a once-reasonable, albeit argumentative, nation. While commentator Hanson lacks the power to overcome the erosion of free speech, individual liberties, and decorum, he nevertheless stands on the sidelines, sounding repeated warnings to anyone who will listen.
“In the released trove of the Department of Justice text communications involving the Clinton email probe, an unidentified FBI employee had texted to another FBI attorney his abject contempt for the proverbial Trump voter and indeed middle America itself: “Trump’s supporters are all poor to middle class, uneducated, lazy POS [“pieces of sh*t”].” In fact, Trump in 2016 received about 90 percent of all Republican votes, about the same ratio as won by both recent presidential candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney.”
“In the now notorious text communications between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, fired FBI operatives on Robert Mueller’s special counsel team, Strzok right before the 2016 election had texted his paramour Page: ‘Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support.’”
“Recently actor Jim Carey tweeted a picture of Trump supporters as apes, as if evolution is now operating in reverse as Trumpians descend into primate status.”
“Rep. Hank Johnson (who on prior occasions had referred to Jewish residents on the West Bank as ‘termites,’ and believed that too many American troops based on the shoreline of Guam might ‘tip’ the island over and capsize it) recently compared Trump to Hitler, and characterized Trump’s supporters — which included 90 percent of the Republican Party — as ‘older, less educated, less prosperous, and they are dying early. Their lifespans are decreasing, and many are dying from alcoholism, drug overdoses, liver disease, or simply a broken heart caused by economic despair.’ For former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump supporters are ‘virulent people’ and ‘the dregs of society.’”
“Note the force of such dehumanizing invective that transcends political differences. Trump voters were not just mistaken in their political allegiances. Instead, they looked like toothless zombies and stunk up stores, and are not quite human, and are destined to die off. And all this from supposedly progressive humanists, quick to demonize others who would mimic their venom.”
While Hanson’s targets often are on the left, it’s actually the whole of a debased American culture he has arguments with, especially the loudly pious:
“. . . it’s really dangerous throughout history when you have a group that sets themselves up as the arbiters of morality. We saw that with the Catholic Church and the abuse problems. We saw that in the #MeToo and the Hollywood liberals like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey. They feel that they’re not subject to the same standards they demand of others.”
To even label certain Americans as “elites,” and others as “deplorables,” is anathema to what the Founding Fathers intended.
Fresh from a demanding monarchy, they intended to render arbitrary judgments, particularly when outside the rule of law, painfully difficult. Hence, the slow law-making process they devised called “Checks and Balances.”
And, thus, the intricate court system, Electoral College, and states’ rights.
Could Nikita Khrushchev’s warning be revealing itself in this century? Have seekers of socialist power been so clever as to begin at the roots of American thought, in the sixties, in our schools and universities? And might the young, no longer educated in the classics, world history or their country’s governance, instead cede (read, throw away,) their personal liberties to a newly ascendant “communal good?”
Where is Ayn Rand when she’s needed?!
Could purveyors of change have cleverly divided citizens into endless categories, the better to isolate? Did they learn to promote their views from Saul Alinsky, author of “Rule for Radicals?” Have they assured emotional responses to difficult issues rather than careful logic? Is free speech on the wane, replaced by the more restrictive virtue signaling, “political correctness?”
As Hanson finds solace in the logic and reason that are the foundation of America, he also fights to maintain values rooted in America’s founding. According to Hanson and other Americans, the old values remain valid. Progressive change for the sake of change is not. From his scholarly perch at Stanford University, he remains one of our most cogent reviewers of today’s culture and politics.
But, in closing, it’s good to remember that America has endured and overcome societal vicissitudes many times before in its past.
In 1927, American writer Max Ehrmann wrote his devotional and soft-spoken poem, “Desiderata,” (Latin: “desired things.”)
“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”
Forty-five years later, in 1972, a spoof of the poem titled “Deteriorata,” shows a less pious America. One more willing to laugh at itself. The National Lampoon mocked everyone in equal measure.
“Go placidly amid the noise and waste,
And remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
Avoid quiet and passive persons, unless you are in need of sleep.
Rotate your tires.
Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself,
And heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys.
Know what to kiss, and when.
Consider that two wrongs never make a right, but that three do.
Wherever possible, put people on hold.
Be comforted that in the face of all aridity and disillusionment,
and despite the changing fortunes of time,
There is always a big future in computer maintenance.
You are a fluke of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
And whether you can hear it or not,
The universe is laughing behind your back.”
Both poems serve to remind us of the reality of change in our country. Change taking place again and again and again.
Commentators such as Ehrmann, the “National Lampoon,” and Victor Davis Hanson all hold us to account in their fashion. The human body, reportedly, switches out old cells for new ones roughly every seven years. History shows us that our body politic, even in its current mess, too will morph into a wildly different direction.
But until then, we may look to thoughtful men such as Hanson to lead the way to our next American culture:
“Finally, we are learning that the entire idea of political correctness was never much about universal ideas of tolerance of the other, or insistence that language and protocols must not stigmatize individuals by lumping them into stereotyped and dehumanized collective groups. What we are witnessing, instead, is that it is fine to demonize millions, from their appearance to their purported hygiene and smell to affinities with feces and apes — if it serves political or cultural agendas. In sum, cultural progressivism is about raw power, not principle.”
And from 1972, the “Deteriorata” responds:
- “Consider that two wrongs never make a right but that three do.”
- “Whenever possible, put people on hold.”
- “Be comforted that in the face of all aridity and disillusionment, and despite the changing fortunes of time, there is always a big fortune in computer maintenance.”
KAREN HAGESTAD CACY
Karen Hagestad Cacy, of Colorado Springs, is a former Washington speechwriter and transportation lobbyist. Raised in Portland, Oregon, she holds a BA degree in Russian and Middle East Studies from Portland State University (and American University in Cairo.) Her four novels are available on Amazon.com. She is also the author of two plays.