Scapegoats, Boogeymen, and Hobgoblins

The world may be increasingly baffled by 2021 America, and its sudden scapegoating of “white supremacist” hobgoblins for problems it cannot or will not solve. 

Roughly 400 Americans were shot over the past July 4 holiday weekend. About 150 of them were killed. The majority, both of the shooters and the victims, were inner-city, African-American males. The level of violence approaches the bad casualty days of the recent Afghan and Iraq wars. 

Meanwhile, during the carnage, progressive black leaders, from Representatives Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) to Cori Bush (D-Mo.), blasted America’s foundational holiday and the country at large for its white supremacy and the current supposed lack of freedom for African Americans. 

During 120 days of rioting, arson, and looting during the summer of 2020, the country suffered about $2 billion in property damage, roughly 25 deaths, and some 14,000 arrests. 

Rioters burned down a Minneapolis police precinct. They set afire a federal courthouse in Portland. And they tried to incinerate the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church next to the White House. Downtown areas of Portland and Seattle were taken over by rioters, who occupied entire city blocks with impunity. 

Most of those arrested during the violent summer were either released or eventually had their charges dropped or vastly reduced. Although many of the Antifa and BLM rioters shouted revolutionary slogans, called for violence against the police, and carefully organized their rioting on social media, neither the media nor the government ever declared the rioters to be conspiracists or insurrectionists. 

In contrast, when roughly 500 renegade Trump supporters, in buffoonish fashion, broke into the Capitol on January 6, 2021, the media and government immediately claimed it was a carefully planned “armed insurrection.” But no one was arrested for possessing or using a gun. 

Headlines blared of five killed. But four died of natural causes and three of those deaths were among Trump supporters. The only violent death was also of a Trump supporter and military veteran, lethally shot by a Capitol police officer while entering through a window. Her shooter remains unidentified. 

In the aftermath of the Capital riot of a few hours, the media, the Left and the government militarized Washington, D.C, with over 20,000 troops, massive fencing and ubiquitous barbed wire. The takeover was in response to fears of violent “white supremacy.” No such anticipated attempted attack or hyped violence ever followed. 

The earlier four months of violence never earned such a hyper federal response as did the few hours on January 6—although the death, destruction, and mayhem went on for months at far greater human and material costs. 

Murders and violent crime in some major American cities have doubled. Forty percent of residents in liberal San Francisco poll a desire to leave their now crime-ridden city.  

In response to nationwide increases in criminal violence, an embarrassed President Biden and exasperated governors and mayors talk of clamping down on legal gun ownership and sales. They blame all firearms for the shootings, even though legally purchased and possessed rifles are involved in just a fraction of violent crime cases. 

Currently, the Chinese military is in the news for issuing overt threats to its neighbors, particularly Taiwan. China seized the unoccupied Spratly Islands to create naval bases to control sea traffic in the South China Sea. It is currently building over 100 hardened long-range-missile silos to house intercontinental nuclear missiles, most of them to be pointed at the United States. 

Iran is accelerating its nuclear enrichment. The current government seems emboldened by new outreach from the Biden Administration. The Taliban will take over Afghanistan in a few weeks. Kabul will likely soon recreate the fall of Saigon in 1975. 

Hackers, some of them likely to have covert affiliations with the Russian government, have systematically attacked U.S. companies. In response, President Biden asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to make sure the attackers at least put more important American facilities off their target lists. 

What is the U.S. military’s reaction to all these crises? 

Recently the Chief of Naval Operations, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and the Secretary of Defense all testified before Congress that the U.S. military is systematically scanning its ranks for potential white supremacists. It now requires woke workshops, and recommends various critical race theory books to enlisted personnel. 

In the crazy times of 2020-21, America seems helpless to stop urban violence, months of rioting and arson, spiraling crime, an anticipated wave of 2 million illegal aliens crossing the border over a 12-month period, a rising and aggressive China, and foreign hackers. 

In response, the Biden Administration, the bureaucracy, the military, the media, academia, Silicon Valley, and the corporate boardrooms across America do not seem to have a clue about how to explain, much less solve, mounting economic, cultural, social, and security crises. 

Apparently, all they can come up with is scapegoating mythical white supremacy for existential problems that they cannot solve—mostly because otherwise such challenges require bothersome and politically incorrect answers and introspection.


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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: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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