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While y’all are working on your tans, illegal people are tossing dirty diapers on Victor Hanson’s lawn

Reading the columns of Victor Davis Hanson has been a guilty pleasure of mine over the years, sort of like listening to Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage. Seeing how the other half thinks is both entertaining and illuminating though the time would have been better spent on something worthwhile or informative.

For the unfamiliar, Hanson is the angry conservative, angry mostly at his fellow elites, particularly those along the California coast, but also at the underclass, particularly the undocumented, who are ruining his vision of the California interior.

He maintains a foot in both worlds. He was raised on a farm outside Fresno (son of a farmer and an appellate court justice) but got a good education, going on to teach at Stanford and to hold court at that fine school’s Hoover Institute. He is expert on ancient warfare and he fancies himself expert on the human condition, though he routinely displays his limitations in that arena through his periodic columnizing.

This has been introduction to his latest column, which I link to here and which I hope will spark some vigorous discussion by readers of the Partisan. He is, after all, writing about you, Partisan readers and others like you, people who live in glass houses along the shore and who are, says Hanson, responsible for the sorry state of the rest of California.

The headline on the piece, which surfaced this week in the National Review, was intended to provoke: “California has become a giant cesspool of problems created by liberals and ignored by the media.” I will read it again but I don’t think he actually mentions the media in the column, but one way to guarantee media attention is to criticize the media.

There is a secondary headline as well, just as provocative. “Coastal elites set rules for others, exempt themselves, and tolerate rampant lawlessness from illegal aliens.”

You may not know what you have been doing but apparently you have making a mess of it, at least in Hanson’s view. Hanson would be wise to accept some of the blame himself since he has maintained a second home near Santa Cruz for years, but he piles a full helping of criticism on his coastal neighbors without saving even a tiny slice for himself.

After blaming the elites in general for the emergence of Donald Trump, he zeroes in on the coastal variety.

Hanson

“Pebble Beach or La Jolla is as far from Madera or Mendota as Mars is from Earth. The elite coastal strip appreciates California’s bifurcated two-class reality, at least in the way that the lords of the Middle Ages treasured their era’s fossilized divisions. Manoralism ensured that peasants remained obedient, dependent, and useful serfs; meanwhile, the masters praised their supposedly enlightened feudal system even as they sought exemptions for their sins from the medieval Church. And without a middle class, the masters had no fear that uncouth others would want their own scaled-down versions of castles and moats.”

There is some truth in his words, of course. A large segment of the coastal population supports land-use regulations that slow the production of new housing that might include some stock affordable to the poor and middle class. A large segment of the coastal population is served by the relatively cheap labor by those who must drive or bus into the better neighborhoods.

But Hanson takes it much farther than that, arguing without evidence that the attitudes of the coastal elites prevent regulators in Fresno County from enforcing rules on littering or even the dumping of toxic wastes.

“California knows it dare not enforce laws against trash-throwing in rural California; that’s too politically incorrect and would be impossible to enforce anyway. Instead, it charges shoppers for their bags.”

Those lines caused me to scratch my head, and so did the next: “In California, the neglect of the felony requires the rigid prosecution of the misdemeanor.”

Hanson’s principal target is the Democrats and other misguided souls who live within a bike ride of the coast, but he uses a shotgun approach and manages to ricochet some of his disdain onto the underclass as well. It’s like this. The elites have caused unbridled immigration and an unregulated free-for-all of a state, allowing litter, drugs, prostitution, vagrancy, truancy and other troubles to invade his once bucolic neighborhood. It wasn’t like this when he was growing up, he reminds us repeatedly.

Hanson complains that his truck and his wife’s bike were stolen in recent years, which he blames on California’s rising crime rate, which he blames on, you guessed it, coastal elites. See, those elites push government to go soft on crime because the elites live in safe communities far from the criminals and are, as a result, soft hearted and soft headed.

“Most of the most strident Californians who decry Trump’s various proposed walls insist on them for their own residences.”

“Most” is a big word but Hanson’s not afraid to use it.

“The state’s economy and housing are moribund in places like Stockton and Tulare, the stagnation being the logical result of the policies of the governing class that would never live there,” he goes on. “Meanwhile, the coastal creed is that Facebook, Apple, Hollywood, and Stanford will virtually feed us, 3-D print our gas, or discover apps to provide wood and stone for our homes.”

OK, you get the idea. Read it for yourself and tell us what you think. Here’s the link again.

 

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Viral communication marketing and propoganda concept as a paper plane burning in flames as an audience group of human heads made of crumpled office papers.OK, I know, you’re tired of reading about Donald Trump. But although he plays a role in this offering, it’s not really about him. It’s about a piece by the syndicated columnist Victor Davis Hanson, a neocon academic who was and is a staunch defender of President George W. Bush, who awarded him the National Humanities Medal in 2007.

I’m writing about the column, Hanson’s latest, because I believe it marks his descent to the bottom rung of the conservative commentariat.

It’s not that Hanson defends Trump. He doesn’t. He goes after him with as much vigor as a National Review conservative can muster. He starts out well:

“The coarser and cruder Donald Trump becomes, and the more ill-informed on the issues he sounds, the more he coasts in the polls. Apparently, a few of his targets must be regarded as unsympathetically as their defamer.”

It’s a steep downhill slide from there, however. What Hanson does next is to list some of The Donald’s failings and compare them to what he views as bigger failings by the U.S. government and those on the other side of the political divide.

Like this: “Some of Trump’s companies may have declared bankruptcy. But if that is so bad, why is the U.S. government running up $18 trillion in national debt?”

OK.

And this: “Trump is uncouth and reckless in his language. But former Attorney General Eric Holder disparaged Americans as ‘cowards.’ President Barack Obama all but called his Republican critics kindred souls to Iranian hardliners. Did Trump make fun of the Special Olympics the way the president once did when referring to his own poor bowling form?”

Get the idea? Trump has done some bad things but some Democrats have done bad things, too, so Trump deserves a break. Back when Hanson was cheerleading Bush’s decision to start a pointless war in Iraq, he undoubtedly argued that it wasn’t as bad as the Democrats’ decision to go into Vietnam as though what happened in the 1960s is germane to what happened in this century. As arguments go, that’s a little like a shoplifter arguing that at least he never held up a bank.

There are names for the logical fallacies Hanson practices here. I probably should not go there because he is a scholar, a Latin whiz, a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institute while I am a lowly blogger who sometimes works in pajamas. But I’ll go ahead and bravely list a few that I sort of remember from my rhetoric class at Fresno State, where he once taught. There’s false equivalence, of course. And argumentum ad hominem, which means to evade the topic at hand by instead attacking the opposition. Don’t forget appeal to spite. Or two wrongs make a right and my favorite, the closely related tu quoque, meaning “you too.”

Sure, Trump is “crass and in your face,” Hanson tells us. But what about Harry Reid, whose foul mouth is seldom mentioned in the press? It would be a semi-apt comparison, perhaps, if Reid was campaigning for national office.

“The grandees of Planned Parenthood talk of their abstract compassion,” Hanson continues. “But in secret videos, they boast of trafficking in human body parts, which is as macabre as anything out of Dickensian London. Do Trump’s wheeler-dealer businesses peddle fetal arms and legs on the side?” If Planned Parenthood officials were criticizing Trump, Hanson might be onto something. But they haven’t, so he isn’t.

All in all, Hanson’s methodology borders on pathetic.

“Mexico published a didactic comic book to advise its own citizens how to illegally cross the border . … It is certainly crude of Trump to stereotype Mexico as an enemy of the U.S. But does Mexico not sometimes connive against its northern neighbor?”

He’s hard on Trump, but only as an excuse to be harder on just about everyone and anyone else. He could have kept going. Why didn’t he say, for instance, that Trump is a sexist but Hollywood makes a sexist movies and the movie industry contributes to the Democrats. Maybe Hanson considered arguing that while Trump may be guilty of spousal abuse, lots of others are too. Maybe, this time, he thought better of it.

This is, in my humble opinion, the worst column Hanson has written, and that is saying something. His previous worst was the one about the silly course offerings at CSU Monterey Bay. What made is so bad was that he didn’t mention the great number of even sillier course offerings at the two colleges where he has taught, Fresno State and Stanford. And that he didn’t mention or even seem to realize that George Will had written virtually the same column, also about CSUMB, years earlier.

In the Right Wing News website’s most recent rankings of the top 50 conservative columnists, Hanson was ranked 16th, below Charles Krauthammer in 12th place and Ann Coulter in the ninth spot. Holding down the top spot was Thomas Sowell, who has made a career out of having little to say.

Hanson’s best showing on that list was late in the previous decade, in which he twice made it to No. 6, behind Coulter in first place but well ahead last place finisher Chuck Norris, the movie guy. Based on the Trump column, I hereby nominate Hanson for the bottom spot but I won’t call for a vote until we get a chance to study recent offerings from Norris or David Limbaugh, Rush’s little brother, who comes in three spots ahead of Hanson in the latest ratings.

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