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Our Revolutionary Times

Sometimes unexpected but dramatic events tear off the thin veneer of respectability and convention. What follows is the exposure and repudiation of long-existing but previously covered-up pathologies.

Events like the destruction of the southern border over the last three years, the October 7 massacre and ensuing Gaza war, the campus protests, the COVID-19 epidemic and lockdown, and the systematic efforts to weaponize our bureaucracies and courts have all led to radical reappraisals of American culture and civilization.

Since the 1960s, universities have always been hotbeds of left-wing protests, sometimes violently so.

But the post-October 7 campus eruptions marked a watershed difference.

Masked left-wing protestors were unashamedly and virulently anti-Semitic. Students on elite campuses especially showed contempt for both middle-class police officers tasked with preventing their violence and vandalism and the maintenance workers who had to clean up their garbage.

Mobs took over buildings, assaulted Jewish students, called for the destruction of Israel, and defaced American monuments and commentaries.

When pressed by journalists to explain their protests, most students knew nothing of the politics or geography of Palestine, for which they were protesting.

The public concluded that the more elite the campus, the more ignorant, arrogant, and hateful the students seemed.

The Biden administration destroyed the southern border. Ten million illegal aliens swarmed into the U.S. without audit. Almost daily, news accounts detail violent acts committed by illegal aliens or their surreal demands for more free lodging and support.

Simultaneously, thousands of Middle Eastern students, invited by universities on student visas, block traffic, occupy bridges, disrupt graduations, and generally show contempt for the laws of their American hosts.

The net result is that Americans are reappraising their entire attitude toward immigration. Expect the border to be closed soon and immigration to become mostly meritocratic, smaller, and legal, with zero tolerance for immigrants and resident visitors who break the laws of their hosts.

Americans are also reappraising their attitudes toward time-honored bureaucracies, the courts, and government agencies.

The public still cannot digest the truth that the once respected FBI partnered with social media to suppress news stories, to surveil parents at school board meetings, and to conduct performance art swat raids on the homes of supposed political opponents.

After the attempts of the Department of Justice to go easy on the miscreant Hunter Biden but to hound ex-president Donald Trump for supposedly removing files illegally in the same fashion as current President Biden, the public lost confidence not just in Attorney General Merrick Garland but in American jurisprudence itself.

The shenanigans of prosecutors like Fani Willis, Letitia James, and Alvin Bragg, along with overtly biased judges like Juan Merchant and Arthur Engoron, only reinforced the reality that the American legal system has descended into third-world-like tit-for-tat vendettas.

The same politicization has nearly discredited the Pentagon. Its investigations of “white” rage and white supremacy found no such organized cabals in the ranks. But these unicorn hunts likely helped cause a 45,000-recruitment shortfall among precisely the demographic that died at twice their numbers in the general population in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Add in the humiliating flight from Kabul, the abandonment of $50 billion in weapons to the Taliban terrorists, the recent embarrassment of the failed Gaza pier, and the litany of political invective from retired generals and admirals. The result is that the armed forces have an enormous task to restore public faith. They will have to return to meritocracy and emphasize battle efficacy, enforce the uniform code of military justice, and start either winning wars or avoiding those that cannot be won.

Finally, we are witnessing a radical inversion in our two political parties. The old populist Democratic Party that championed lunch-bucket workers has turned into a shrill union of the very rich and subsidized poor. Its support of open borders, illegal immigration, the war on fossil fuels, transgenderism, critical legal and race theories, and the woke agenda are causing the party to lose support.

The Republican Party is likewise rebranding itself from a once-stereotyped brand of aristocratic and corporate grandees to one anchored in the middle class.

Even more radically, the new populist Republicans are beginning to appeal to voters on shared class and cultural concerns rather than on racial and tribal interests.

The results of all these revolutions will shake up the U.S. for decades to come.

Soon we may see a Georgia Tech or Purdue degree as far better proof of an educated and civic-minded citizen than a Harvard or Stanford brand.

We will likely jettison the failed salad bowl approach to immigration and return to the melting pot as immigration becomes exclusively legal, meritocratic, and manageable.

To avoid further loss of public confidence, institutions like the FBI, the CIA, the Pentagon, and the DOJ will have to re-earn rather than just assume the public’s confidence.

And we may soon accept the reality that Democrats reflect the values of Silicon Valley plutocrats, university presidents, and blue-city mayors, while Republicans become the home of an ecumenical black, Hispanic, Asian, and white middle class.

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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: TOPSHOT - Police face-off with pro-Palestinian students after destroying part of the encampment barricade on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in Los Angeles, California, early on May 2, 2024. Police deployed a heavy presence on US university campuses on May 1 after forcibly clearing away some weeks-long protests against Israel's war with Hamas. Dozens of police cars patrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles campus in response to violent clashes overnight when counter-protesters attacked an encampment of pro-Palestinian students. (Photo by Etienne LAURENT / AFP) (Photo by ETIENNE LAURENT/AFP via Getty Images)

Notable Replies

  1. Although I certainly agree with and support VDH’s vision for the changes he lists, I am curious as to the mechanism by which those changes will occur. His article seems to imply that public attitudes and opinions will somehow compel those changes.

    As astute an historian Professor Hanson is, I do think he missed a chapter (or book) or two on how totalitarian regimes are repudiated merely through public opinion. Brutish regimes that steal elections, use law enforcement as political muscle, collude with large media and technology corporate behemoths to censure opinions and force-feed state-approved propaganda to the masses, are not swayed or induced to moderate its tactics or goals.

    Therefore, I would be quite interested in the means or mode by which VDH envisions the changes he foresees from our current oligopolistic nightmare.

  2. Despite Donald Trump being ahead of Joe Biden in most polling-----especially Swing State polls—about half the country still appears to back the Leftist agenda. This is troubling news. And I’m baffled as to why. One would think it self evident that Leftist policies of the last seventeen years (going back to Obama) have brought nothing but misery, but one would be wrong.

    Those on the Squad still win their primaries. Woke mayors still promote policies that leave criminals on the streets and citizens afraid to go outdoors, yet citizens continue to elect them to office. Gavin Newsom has, most probably, the worst record of a sitting governor, yet is still high on the list as a viable candidate to replace Joe Biden when Joe stumbles and falls for the last time. The list goes on.

    VDH offers that the thin veneer of respectability and convention has been torn off, but fully half the nation doesn’t seem to mind–at all. I’ve come to believe that no disaster—social or political–will be enough to convince those that back destructive policies that their policies are, indeed, destructive.

    Nearly forty years ago, Linda Ellerbee published a book with the title that echoed her familiar catchphrase that I re-echo today------And So It Goes.

  3. Sorry Max, Hanson was unavailable for comment.

  4. Avatar for task task says:

    Many of my comments are associated with how we might escape from this nightmarish debacle orchestrated by elitists and managed by buffoons and goons. I have no sure remedies.

    The main problem we have is that we educated and imported our problems. We essentially replaced the population that would have both prevented this imbroglio and fought it. This was incrementally advanced via the Department of Education, the colleges and universities, immigration policies designed for the most indigent and a welfare system that has morphed into redistribution and entitlement schemes. And it is all managed by a good deal of political corruption.

    It appears we really do need what might be considered a domestic war and an American version of a leader and state generals who will stand in the way of tyranny and not permit Federal foes to use the Constitution as a suicide document.

  5. Avatar for task task says:

    As long as the monetary system allows the masses to remain indigent dependent asses they will support the DEI agenda and policies. You, of all people, know everything based on massive spending and associated unforgiving and unpayable debt, is but a fabricated illusion whose time will pass. If it passes on Biden’s watch (Obama’s) it will be blamed on Trump and confiscation associated with digital currency will come to the rescue. If it occurs on Trump’s watch the MSM will blame him 24 hours of each day’s news’ cycle.

Continue the discussion at community.amgreatness.com

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