Victor Davis Hanson

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Spiritual transcendence is the timeless water of life; technology is simply the delivery pump. We confused the two. That water can be delivered ever more rapidly does not mean it ever changes its essence. High tech has become the great delusion.

Victor Davis Hanson (born 5 September 1953) is an American classicist, military historian, columnist, and farmer. He has been a commentator on modern and ancient warfare and contemporary politics for National Review, The Washington Times and other media outlets. He is a professor emeritus of classics at California State University, Fresno, and is currently the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in classics and military history at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

Quotes[edit]

Twenty-six days after 9/11, Americans were in Afghanistan; 40 hours after a similar al Qaeda attack, the Spanish electorate voted in Socialists on the promise that they would get out of Iraq pronto.
Our population may seem soft and flabby on university campuses and think tanks, but the sort of Americans I see out here in rural central California like to fight, work to exhaustion and, for the most part, worry more about what we are going to do to our enemies in the Middle East, rather than they to us.
[T]he ultimate logic of America's unique Constitution was different. So the United States steadily evolved to define Americans by their shared values, not by their superficial appearance. Eventually, anyone who was willing to give up his prior identity and assume a new American persona became American.
The United States has always cherished its "melting pot" ethos of e pluribus unum — of blending diverse peoples into one through assimilation, integration, and intermarriage.
Europe has not been a continent of immigrants... It lacks the ingredients necessary to assimilate, integrate, and intermarry large numbers of newcomers each year: There is no dynamic and fluid economy, no confidence in its own values, no belief that class and race are incidental, not essential, to one's persona, no courage.
[T]he Confederacy was so entwined with the idea of preserving slavery that the flag, even today, can evoke racial polarization.

2000s[edit]

The Power to Do Good (2004)[edit]

"The Power to Do Good" (6 June 2004), New York Post
  • Twenty-six days after 9/11, Americans were in Afghanistan; 40 hours after a similar al Qaeda attack, the Spanish electorate voted in Socialists on the promise that they would get out of Iraq pronto. Our population may seem soft and flabby on university campuses and think tanks, but the sort of Americans I see out here in rural central California like to fight, work to exhaustion and, for the most part, worry more about what we are going to do to our enemies in the Middle East, rather than they to us.

A War Like No Other - How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War (2005)[edit]

  • War itself is not a mere science but a more fickle sort of thing, often subject to fate or chance, being an entirely human enterprise...
  • [W]ar can have utility and solve problems, and it often follows a grim logic of sorts; but once it starts, it may well last twenty-seven years over the entire Greek world rather than an anticipated thirty days in Attica and kill thousands at its end who were not born in its beginning. Such recognition is not necessarily cause for pacifism; rather... it calls for acceptance that thousands will end up rotten in little-known places... the logic that follows from decisions made far away in the hallowed assemblies...
  • Between emotion and logic resides the fate of thousands of the mostly unknown... who will surely then and now be asked to settle through violence what words alone cannot. Remember them, for the Peloponnesian War was theirs alone.

2010s[edit]

Western Cultural Suicide (2013)[edit]

"Western Cultural Suicide" (29 May 2013), National Review Online
  • We understand the notions of both ethnic pride and hyphenated Americanism, but many of us are still bewildered about contradictory impulses: the emotional need to display Mexican decals on cars and hang Mexican flags on houses and businesses — or boo an American team at a soccer match — coupled with equally heated expressions of outrage that anyone might suggest that those who broke American law in coming to the United States would ever have to return where their hearts would “always be.” That paradox is the most disturbing — and ignored — aspect of the immigration debate: the contradictory impulse to fault the United States for a litany of sins (exploitation, racism, xenophobia, nativism) without commensurate attention to why any newcomer would wish to reside in a place that is so clearly culpable...
  • America was born as an immigrant nation. It went through many periods of nearly unlimited immigration, coupled with xenophobic backlashes when particular groups — Germans, Jews, Irish, Mexicans, or Poles — came in such numbers and so abruptly that the traditional powers of assimilation were for a time overwhelmed. But the eras of ethnic ghettoes and tribal separatism were usually brief, given the inclusive popular culture and official government efforts to overwhelm identification with the home country.

1984 Redux: Orwellian Illegal Immigration (2014)[edit]

"1984 Redux: Orwellian Illegal Immigration" (4 August 2014), PJ Media
  • If we were to take a newly arrived illegal alien, and enroll him in a typical Chicano Studies course, he would logically wish to return across the border as soon as possible.

The New World Disorder (2014)[edit]

"The New World Disorder" (3 September 2014), National Review Online
  • Those regions that Putin has already bullied into compliance — Georgia, Crimea, and eastern Ukraine — serve as a warning to others of what might be their fate should they resist, and why it is thus wiser to make the necessary adjustments. Should Vladimir Putin suddenly discover persecuted Russian speakers in Estonia, we know the script. He will give speeches about the historical ties of Estonia to Russia; he will list his worries about the supposed maltreatment of Russian speakers; he will warn the world that his Russia is a nuclear, and sometimes unpredictable, power and therefore the world should butt out.

America: One Nation, Indivisible (2015)[edit]

"America: One Nation, Indivisible" (24 June 2015), National Review Online
  • [T]he Confederacy was so entwined with the idea of preserving slavery that the flag, even today, can evoke racial polarization...
  • In a racially diverse society, it makes sense to phase out state sanction for the battle flag — as South Carolina governor Nikki Haley advocated yesterday, in calling on the state legislature to vote for the removal of the battle flag that has been flying over the grounds of the state capitol...
  • The postmodern rationale is either that groups that have suffered past disfranchisement and discrimination should not be subject to current anti-discriminatory protocols...
  • We should pause to appreciate that the American democratic experiment in ethnic and racial diversity is nearly unique. Indeed, the very idea of racial diversity and nationhood does not have much of a record of success in history. Few countries have been able to transcend their ethnic origins and sustain a racially pluralistic society. Rome was an exception and pulled it off for nearly 500 years, as the Roman Empire grew to encompass non-Italian peoples from the Euphrates to Scotland before unwinding into tribal chaos. The Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires worked for long periods, though they relied on the use of autocratic force and imperial coercion to suppress minorities, in ways antithetical to modern notions of governance.
  • In more recent times, religious and racial diversity — in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, or contemporary Nigeria — has resulted in chaos and, occasionally, genocide. True, some nations have been able to incorporate different tribes, as in the United Kingdom’s unification of the various peoples of the British Isles, but usually after hundreds of years of fighting and only when there were underlying racial and cultural affinities that could trump tribal differences.
  • [T]he United States is history’s exception, not its rule. America is a great, evolving experiment of a constitutional republic in which peoples of all different races, religions, and ethnic backgrounds are equal under the law and see themselves as Americans first and members of tribes second — appearance and religion being incidental rather than essential to the American body politic.
  • [A] Juan Lopez from Oaxaca is freely accepted as a U.S. citizen in a way that a white Bob Jones would never fully be embraced as a citizen of Mexico, a country whose constitution still expressly sets out racially chauvinistic guidelines that govern immigration law. Someone who appears African or European would have a hard time fully integrating as a citizen in Chinese, Korean, or Japanese society, in a way not true of Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese in America. The world assumes that in America a president, attorney general, secretary of state, or Supreme Court justice can be black; but it would be as surprised to find whites as high public officials in Zimbabwe as to find a black as prime minister or foreign minister in Sweden...
  • In the last half-century, Americans have increasingly tended to emphasize race and tribe in promoting “diversity,” rather than seeking to strengthen the more tenuous notion of unity with their fellow citizens. We have forgotten that human nature is fond of division and must work at setting aside superficial tribal affinities to unite on the basis of core values and ideas.
  • [R]acial difference and ethnic pride are no longer just fossilized notions from the 1960s; they are growing fissures in the American mosaic that now threaten to split the country apart — fueling the suspicion of less liberal and more homogeneous nations that the great American experiment will finally unwind as expected. That would be a great tragedy, but a catastrophe entirely predictable if citizens seek symbolic solidarity with their tribe rather than in the common idea of just being American.

"Black Lives Matter"—a Year From Now (2015)[edit]

"'Black Lives Matter'—a Year From Now" (20 September 2015), PJ Media
  • The reason liberals despise Clarence Thomas or caricature a Ben Carson, more so than they do white conservative justices or public figures, is the threat that they pose to the entire engine of liberal condescension — and Democratic politics. When successful blacks prove that they easily compete in the marketplace of talent and ideas without liberal racial policies and their political henchmen, then the entire architecture of liberal racial politics collapses. The disdain shown a Thomas or Carson suggests that liberal racial politics serve as private medieval penance in the abstract, and at little personal cost for assuaging guilt over liberal apartheid.

Europe at the Edge of the Abyss (2016)[edit]

"Europe at the Edge of the Abyss" (29 March 2016), National Review Online
  • [A] France or a Belgium is not quite a sovereign nation any more, and thus does not have complete control over its national destiny or foreign relations.
  • Europe's immigration policy is a disaster — and for reasons that transcend the idiocy of allowing the free influx of young male Muslims from a premodern, war-torn Middle East into a postmodern, pacifist, and post-Christian Europe. Europe has not been a continent of immigrants since the Middle Ages. It lacks the ingredients necessary to assimilate, integrate, and intermarry large numbers of newcomers each year: There is no dynamic and fluid economy, no confidence in its own values, no belief that class and race are incidental, not essential, to one's persona, no courage to assume that an immigrant made a choice to leave a worse place for a better one. And all this is in the context of a class-bound hierarchy masked and excused by boutique leftism.
  • Europeans are unable to understand why a young Libyan came to Europe in the first place, and why apparently under no circumstances does he wish to return home. Specifically, Europeans — for a variety of 20th-century historical and cultural reasons — often are either ignorant of who they are or terrified about expressing their identities in any concrete and positive fashion. The result is that Europe cannot impose on a would-be newcomer any notion that consensual government is superior to the anarchy and theocracy of the Middle East, that having individual rights trumps being subjects of a dictator, that personal freedom is a better choice than statist tyranny, that protection of private property is a key to economic growth whereas law by fiat is not, and that independent judiciaries do not run like Sharia courts. It most certainly cannot ask of immigrants upon arrival that they either follow the laws of a society that originally made Europe attractive to them, or return home to live under a system that they apparently rejected. I omit for obvious reasons that few present-day Europeans believe that Christianity is much different from Islam, and apparently thus assume that terrorists might just as well be Christians.
  • Europeans are not having children for lots of reasons. A static and fossilized economy without much growth gives little hope to a 20-something European that he or she can get a good job, buy a home, have three children, and provide for those offspring lives with unlimited choices. Instead, the young European bides his time, satisfying his appetites, as a perpetual adolescent who lives in his parents’ flat, seeks to milk the system, and waits for someone to die at the tribal government bureau. After a lost decade, one hopes to hook up with some like soul in her or his late thirties.
  • As a general rule, whatever Europe is now doing, we should do the opposite — for our very survival in an increasingly scary world.

America: History's Exception (2016)[edit]

"America: History's Exception" (13 June 2016), National Review Online
  • America is history's exception. It began as a republic founded by European migrants. Like the homogenous citizens of most other nations, they were likely on a trajectory to incorporate racial sameness as the mark of citizenship. But the ultimate logic of America's unique Constitution was different. So the United States steadily evolved to define Americans by their shared values, not by their superficial appearance. Eventually, anyone who was willing to give up his prior identity and assume a new American persona became American. The United States has always cherished its "melting pot" ethos of e pluribus unum — of blending diverse peoples into one through assimilation, integration, and intermarriage...
  • So far, America has beaten the odds and remained multiracial rather than multicultural, thereby becoming the most powerful nation in the world. We should remember that diversity is an ornament, but unity is our strength.

Fundamentally Transformed (2016)[edit]

"Fundamentally Transformed" (13 July 2016), National Review Online
  • Every problem has a resolution — but often not a good one.

Diversity: History's Pathway to Chaos (2016)[edit]

"Diversity: History’s Pathway to Chaos" (1 September 2016), National Review Online
  • For some reason, contemporary America believes that it can reject its uniquely successful melting pot to embrace a historically dangerous and discredited salad-bowl separatism. Is there any evidence from the past that institutionalizing sects and ethnic grievances would ensure a nation’s security, prosperity, and freedom? America’s melting pot is history’s sole exception of e pluribus unum inclusivity: a successful multiracial society bound by a common culture, language, and values. But this is a historic aberration with a future that is now in doubt...
  • It is time to step back from the apartheid brink...
  • A Latino-American undergraduate who is a student of Shakespeare is not "culturally appropriating" anyone’s white-European legacy, but instead seeking transcendence of ideas and a common humanity. Asian-Americans are not “overrepresented” at premier campuses. Their high-profile presence should be praised as a model, not punished as aberrant by number-crunching bureaucrats. African-Americans who excel in physics and engineering are not “acting white” but finding the proper pathways for their natural talents. Being one-half Southeast Asian or three-quarters white is not the touchstone to one’s essence and is irrelevant to one’s character and conduct. No one is impinging on anyone’s culture when blacks dye their hair blond, or when blondes prefer to wear cornrow braids. Campuses desperately need unity czars, not diversity czars. Otherwise, we will end up as 50 separate and rival nations — just like other failed states in history whose diverse tribes and races destroyed themselves in a Hobbesian dog-eat-dog war with one another.

Why Does the Left Suddenly Hate Russia? (2017)[edit]

"Why Does the Left Suddenly Hate Russia?" (7 August 2017), National Review Online
  • Vladimir Putin is a thug and a killer who in the grand tradition of Russian autocracy has no intention ever of holding free elections.

The Origins of Our Second Civil War (2018)[edit]

"The Origins of Our Second Civil War" (31 July 2018), National Review Online
  • The masters of the universe of Silicon Valley did not, as promised, bring us new-age tranquility, but rather only greater speed and intensity to do what we always do. Trolling, doxing, and phishing were just new versions of what Jesus warned about in the Sermon on the Mount. Spiritual transcendence is the timeless water of life; technology is simply the delivery pump. We confused the two. That water can be delivered ever more rapidly does not mean it ever changes its essence. High tech has become the great delusion.
  • [W]e need to develop a new racial sense that we are so intermarried and assimilated that cardboard racial cutouts are irrelevant. Our new racialism must be seen as a reactionary and dangerous return to 19th-century norm of judging our appearance on the outside as more valuable than who we are on the inside.

The American Art of Renewal (2018)[edit]

"The American Art of Renewal" (2 August 2018), National Review Online
  • In the summer of 1864, pessimists warned that the North could not win the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln faced opposition for the Republican-party nomination, and even if he won it, he was considered likely to lose the November election to Union general George McClellan. General Grant’s Army of the Potomac was being bled white in Virginia in vain attempts to dislodge Robert E. Lee’s defenders from their entrenchments around the Confederate capital of Richmond. Gruesome encounters such as the Battle of Cold Harbor and the Battle of the Wilderness had given the depressed Northern public nightmares. Then, suddenly, fantasy became reality. The maverick General William Tecumseh Sherman unexpectedly took Atlanta on September 2, 1864. Euphoria swept the North. McClellan’s sure-thing candidacy crashed. The mercurial Sherman then headed off with his huge army on the famous “March to the Sea” through Georgia. He next plowed through the Carolinas to the rear of Lee’s army in Virginia. In less than nine months the entire Confederate cause collapsed. The supposedly endless Civil War ended with a sudden and absolute Union victory that no one had foreseen.

The Deflation of the Academic Brand (2018)[edit]

"The Deflation of the Academic Brand" (14 August 2018), National Review Online
  • [O]ur top schools are obsessed with race, class, and gender but apparently not rigorous in cross-examining the fables and pop fads of their students.
  • It is growing harder and harder to equate elite university branding with proof of knowledge. Barack Obama, another Harvard Law graduate, proved this depressing fact a number of times when he asserted that the Maldives were the Falklands, "corpsmen" was pronounced with a hard p, Austrians spoke a language called Austrian, there were 57 states, and Hawaii was in Asia.
  • [O]n most of the major issues of the last 40 years, what we were told by economists, foreign-policy experts, pundits, and the media has proven wrong — and doubly wrong given the emphases placed on such assertions by the supposedly better-educated professional classes.
  • Free-market economics and tolerance for Chinese violations of trade and commercial protocols did not result in either the liberalization or the democratization of China. Over the past two decades, we have been told that the Japanese, the European Union, and the Chinese successively would eclipse America with their respective superior paradigms.
  • In truth, elite education has become a cattle brand. It signifies lots of things other than knowledge: for some, politically correct certification; for others, good test scores and grades that got them in; for a few, later entry into the alumni ranks of high business, law, academia, government, and the media.
  • Old-boy networks, alumni giving, affirmative action, sports, and diversity have pretty much put an end to classical meritocratic admissions. That decline of standards in admissions is perversely ironic, because at about the same time, a new campus ethos of grade inflation was predicated on the self-important notion that if you were smart enough to get into Princeton or Harvard, then Harvard and Princeton would make the necessary adjustments and concessions to make sure you graduated. The result of self-congratulation is that a Stanford graduate now usually knows less history than his Hillsdale counterpart. A successful self-made businessman can know a lot more about the economy than does a Harvard M.B.A.

The Double Standards of Postmodern Justice (2018)[edit]

"The Double Standards of Postmodern Justice" (16 August 2018), National Review Online
  • [W]hat bothers the New York Times is not racism per se, but who is the racist and who are her targets.

External links[edit]