Will the 2020 Madness Last?

The COVID-19 pandemic is ending with mass vaccinations. So is the national quarantine. The riots, arson, and looting of the 2020 summer are sputtering out—leaving violent crime in their wake.

The acrimony over the 2020 election fades. Trump Derangement Syndrome became abstract when Donald Trump left office and was ostracized from social media. 

In other words, the American people are slowly regaining their senses after the epidemic of mass hysteria and insanity that gripped the nation in 2020. 

But Americans will wonder whether what Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and the hard Left wrought last year will last when the nation is no longer gripped by 2020 madness. 

Teachers and academics are notorious for furious opposition to administrative bloat. For the last 50 years, administrations have proliferated, while the ratio of non-teachers to teachers has skyrocketed—to the chagrin of teacher unions. 

But in the last year, schools and colleges have gone mad in hiring thousands of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” administrators. Their job descriptions may be vague. But certainly, they will not contribute to classroom education. Instead, they will monitor the speech and thoughts of those who do. 

How long will mostly left-wing teachers’ unions continue to support such vast diversions of money to armies of new left-wing non-teaching administrators?

Before 2020, the Left demanded “proportional representation” in hiring and admissions. And if minority groups and women were not represented in the workplace according to their percentages of the American population, then prejudice was automatically assumed (“disparate impact”). Reparatory measures were then made to hire by race and gender. 

“Affirmative action” was the euphemism for such quotas. It was nevertheless more or less institutionalized because proportional representation was not entirely illogical in a multiracial society. And there was still the common goal to follow Martin Luther King, Jr.’s notion of integration and assimilation to make race incidental not essential to who Americans are. 

Not now. The foundations of the new woke race agenda are mostly anti-white. African American Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot recently decided not to call on reporters who were white. The city of Oakland’s entitlement payouts, like those of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are designed not to be distributed to white people. 

A number of black intellectuals now openly envision American life segregated from whites—and far worse. The Nation’s Elie Mystal envisions his life as “whiteness free.” Damon Young, a senior editor of The Root and an occasional New York Times contributor, claims, “Whiteness . . . kills people.” And Barnard College English instructor Ben Philippe recently wrote a novel envisioning mass gassing and blowing up of white people.

Such hatred has never been condemned by Black Lives Matter or other civil rights groups. When the country returns to life after COVID will such 2020 venom still be tolerable?

Or for that matter, will the media be able to get away with not covering frequent attacks on Jews in major cities by mostly pro-Hamas or Arab American youth? Will they still be able to promulgate the lies that Asian American hate crimes are the work of white supremacists rather than overwhelmingly committed by young black males?

Before 2020, the American people tired of the media farces surrounding such events as the Duke lacrosse team, the lies about the Covington kids, and Jussie Smollett’s hoax about being attacked by white racists. Will they return to their earlier skepticism about media hype when it increasingly seems like the media and the government mostly lied when denying the possibility that the coronavirus leaked from a Wuhan lab engaged in “gain-of-function” engineering of dangerous viruses? 

Will people still believe that “armed insurrectionists” on January 6, 2021 planned a “coup” and killed officer Brian Sicknick? As the hysteria fades, we are learning there were no arms anywhere. No one has been charged with treason, conspiracy, or insurrection. There are no conspiracy kingpins in custody. And Sicknick tragically died a day later from natural causes

By the end of the year, will the media-hungry Anthony Fauci still be a national icon, as the country finally adds up his contradictory communiqués that were constantly changing and often flat-out wrong, without ever apologizing for his deliberate misinformation? 

What will the country make of the formerly derided “conspiracy theory” that Fauci himself helped to steer U.S. funding to the Chinese viral lab in Wuhan, the birthplace of COVID-19, when it increasingly is shown to be true?

From March 2020 to March 2021 the country went through a mass hysteria. Despite its ideological pretensions, the collective insanity was not unlike the Tulip mania in early 17th-century Holland, the 1950s hula-hoop craze, or the great June bug hysteria of 1962. 

But as Americans sober up, will they institutionalize or reject the frenzy remaining from the destructive stampede that took the country over the cliff during the most unhinged year in American history?

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004, and is the 2023 Giles O'Malley Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush, and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson is also a farmer (growing almonds on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author of the just released New York Times best seller, The End of Everything: How Wars Descend into Annihilation, published by Basic Books on May 7, 2024, as well as the recent  The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, The Case for Trump, and The Dying Citizen.

Photo: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

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