1619 project

Victor Davis Hanson: ‘We have become an absurd society obsessed with race’

Victor Davis Hanson is a Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is a military historian, a columnist, a former classics professor, and one of the smartest conservative commentators ever.

In his latest column at American Greatness, he asks if America is (hopefully, finally) hitting woke herd immunity as two recent polls suggest. He begins:

Two recent polls suggest wokism is beginning to recede on a variety of fronts, from less trust in Black Lives Matter and more confidence in the police, to suspicion that the Capitol “insurrection” account is being used to unfairly suppress political expression while Antifa, increasingly, is seen as a terrorist organization whose violence has been ignored improperly by authorities.

There are tens of millions of Americans who either have been stung, or turned off by McCarthyite wokeness (and thus have anti-wokeness antibodies). More have been vaccinated from its latest virulent strains by their own values of judging people as individuals, not as racial or gender collectives. So lots of Americans have developed peremptory defenses against it. The result is that daily there are ever-fewer who are susceptible to the woke pandemic. And it will thus begin to fade out—even as the virus desperately seeks to mutate and go after more institutions.

Peak wokeness is nearing also because if it continued in its present incarnation, then the United States as we know it would cease to exist—in the sense that 1692-93 Salem or 1793-94 Paris could not have continued apace without destroying society. Woke leftism exists to destroy and tear down, not to unite and build. It is not designed to play down and heal racial differences, but to accentuate and capitalize on them.

Dr. Hanson says “the shark was jumped” with last week’s cancellation of Dr. Seuss books.

But what are to be the new standards of Trotskyization as we go forth? Can the Governor of New York be excused for months of policies that led to nearly 15,000 unnecessary deaths, but not for inappropriate kisses and touching of women? Or will he, as an Emmy-winning woke official, be exempt from punishment for both types of transgressions?

There are no logical standards that dictate who is and who is not canceled. For now, all we know about the rules of wokeness is that living leftists are mostly not canceled by the woke mob for the thought crimes that ruin both the non-Left or the generic dead.

There is a price to be paid for “wokeness.”

Wokeness is siphoning off billions of dollars from a productive economy through a sort of value-subtracted tax. We are spending a great deal of labor and capital for merit to be replaced in college admissions, in hiring, in grants, in publication, in the selections of awards, and in movies and videos, in everything—as racial, ethnic, and sexual identity considerations replace meritocratic, literary, artistic, and technological criteria, rather than just augment, them.

Americans also are investing lots of capital in preempting wokeness—writing/saying/acting in ways that are not productive, but simply defensive. Diversity oaths, and diversity applications, pledges, and statements take some time to read and digest. It will not be long before insurers will sell “woke insurance,” the premiums adjusted upward for those more conservative and of the wrong genealogy. It won’t be long before we all carry cards certifying that “At no time, did I say, hear, or think anything . . . .”

Our economy will soon mimic the totalitarian ones of old. Our commissars are like those of the old Red Army—ordering Soviet commanders’ counter-offensives during the Great Patriotic War to ensure that tank battalions were advancing ideologically correctly rather than just tactically or strategically soundly.

If that sounds overly dramatic to some, Dr. Hanson reminds us that at the height of the riots last May and June, then-President Donald Trump considered bringing in federal troops to maintain order. It was then that “280 former generals, admirals, and national security officials signed a letter warning that if Trump” were to do so, “he should be considered a dictatorial threat.” The letter read, “There is no role for the U.S. military in dealing with American citizens exercising their constitutional right to free speech, however uncomfortable that speech may be for some.”

Yet when Democrats insisted on bringing in 25,000 National Guard troops after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, this “group remained mute.”

No society can long exist if it believes that its own founding principles, its customs and traditions, its very origins are evil and must be erased. Tearing down statues of Abraham Lincoln, and redefining 1776 and 1787 as 1619, are many things, but one thing they are not is coherent. Trump was considered nutty when he warned that the statue topplers would go from Confederate monuments to Washington and Jefferson—and then when they did just that he was further ridiculed for being prescient.

Who were the long-dead men who devised a system whose natural and eventual fruition is what attracts indigenous people from Oaxaca, the destitute from Somalia, or the politically oppressed from Vietnam? If evil white people founded an evil system solely for their own evil purposes, why would anyone nonwhite dare risk his life to eat from the alluring fruit of the inherently long-ago poisoned tree?

If Americans are to accept that their Declaration of Independence and Constitution were frauds, abject falsifications of the real unspoken founding of 1619, then again what is to replace them? Whose statues are to rise, which books are we to be authorized to read, whose science are we to turn to?

“Everyone has feet of some clay,” Dr. Hanson reminds us. “Is there no adultery, or unkind treatment of women or plagiarism in the past of Martin Luther King, Jr? No violence or criminality in the life of Malcolm X? Did Cesar Chavez never send his goons to the border to beat back illegal aliens? Was Margaret Sanger only a sometimes advocate of eugenic abortion? Are the written biographies of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to be freed of anti-Semitism and petty corruption? Is Louis Farrakhan an ecumenical leader in the way FDR was not? Was JFK really our first feminist?”

Are we to look to those who erased our supposedly awful past for guidance?

Is it to be the architect of the 1619 Project? Long ago the ecumenical Nikole Hannah-Jones wrote that “the white race is the biggest murderer, rapist, pillager, and thief of the modern world . . . The descendants of these savage people pump drugs and guns into the Black community, pack Black people into the squalor of segregated urban ghettos and continue to be bloodsuckers in our community.”

Last summer, he points out, “Hannah-Jones bragged that, yes, it would be ‘an honor’ if the summer rioting—700 police officers injured, 40 deaths, and billions in property damages and hundreds—be called henceforth ‘the 1619 riots.'”

She also said, “Destroying property, which can be replaced, is not violence. … Any reasonable person would say we shouldn’t be destroying other people’s property, but these are not reasonable times.” He wondered if the Times considered Hannah-Jones “inflammatory?”

Moreover, he asks how we “ascertain who is and is not white or black or brown?”

Most illiberal societies in the past that tried such stigmatization of race, ethnicity, or religion did not end so well—from the Ottomans and the Third Reich to the former Yugoslavians, Rwandans, and Iraqis. One eighth, one fourth, or one half makes one a person of color—or not color? Shall we seek knowledge of one-drop of tell-tale bloodlines from the archived jurisprudence of the antebellum South?

If Peruvian George Zimmerman had only used his matronymic, and Latinized his first name, then would a Jorge Mesa have become a sympathetic character who lost a fair fight with Trayvon Martin rather than reduced by the New York Times to a strange category of “white Hispanic” hoodlum, with the additional odor of a Germanized patronymic.

Why does class bow to race, since the former seems to trump the latter. If we forget percentages for a moment, and also forget that we are individuals, not anonymous cogs of vast racial wheels, in absolute numbers, there are roughly (in some studies) more poor white people—both those earning incomes below the poverty level and those with no income at all—than all other commensurate poor minorities combined. Were these supposed to be the targets of Barack Obama’s “clingers” remarks, or Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables,” John McCain’s “crazies,” or Joe Biden’s “dregs,” “chumps,” and “Neanderthals”?

Predicating wokism on race is a tricky business, even if one could define and identify race, quantify its role in determining class status, and convince millions that it is moral to judge people by how they look.

Like the Salem witch trials and the McCarthyite hysteria, when wokism fades, we are likely to see its real catalysts revealed. And they will not be found to be misplaced idealism, nor heartfelt desire for a more ecumenical society, but mostly the age-old, narcissistic destructive road to career enhancement, fueled by customary ancient fears, envies, and hatreds.

6 replies »

  1. Way too elevated in thought, history and expression for the masses. To keep it simpler (which Einstein always said much more difficult), this nation was born for all people, with “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness!”
    We fought and won the race war of 1861-65! We fought for the civil rights of all in 1960-1970s and won!
    How dare the communists/demoncrat/eugengicists advance on us NOW!
    My American of African descent vendor shared equal appreciation for my patronage today as I did his good service on an automobile type we both share with loving wives. He’s working hard, as I (many years senior) to provide current and future prosperity to himself and family.
    It may seem trite to some, and egregious to Obama/Biteme (Biden) globalists;
    But we Brothers & Sisters in American Trust know and treat each other equally.
    F**k the current creeps in power!
    How’s that for simplifying the issue?

  2. Terrific write by Mr. Hanson. Thanks for extracting and posting here – I most likely would not have seen it elsewhere.

    I used to be a bitter clinger. Using the new radical, woke rules, I am free to self-identify instead of having Obama put a label on me. Now, I self-identify and represent the Cro-Magnon wing of the GOP; and I must say that I highly resent the comparison to Neanderthals…. my race is far more advanced than Neanderthals or other democrats…. especially when you are cis-Cro-Magnon, as I am.

    Is life really getting as absurd as this? Lord help us all….

  3. OMG! Spike51,
    You are a Free person of great thought!
    Thank You for Your brilliant comments…
    Publius

    • Publius,

      I like your summary very much as it does tend to express my cis-Cro-Magnon sentiments directly!

      “F**k the current creeps in power!”

      Thanks for having the fortitude to express yourself and saying what many of us are thinking!

      Spike51

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