Assault on Meritocracy, Politicization of the Virus, and the ‘Platonic Noble Lie’

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There will be “no safe space, no sanctuary from wokeism until the system starts to erode the safety and the security of the elite that created it,” says classicist and historian Victor Davis Hanson.

In this episode, Hanson breaks down the problems he sees plaguing American society today, from the assault on meritocracy to the “Frankenstein monster” of moral relativism.

Throughout society today, elites justify their control of or manipulation of information as for the good of the people, Hanson says. It’s the “noble lie”: “I’m smarter than you. I’m your platonic guardian. I can lie for your own good…Just don’t dare suggest I’m lying,” Hanson says.

Jan Jekielek: Victor Davis Hanson, so great to have you back on American Thought Leaders.

Victor Davis Hanson: Thank you.

Mr. Jekielek: Victor, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how some people call us living in a post-truth world. Others I’ve spoken with on this show describe it as an epistemic crisis.

I want to talk about this, but I’ve been watching this play out—you and I have both been watching this play out: how this story of the origins of the Wuhan coronavirus has changed over the last year and a bit. It’s pretty fascinating.

Mr. Hanson: Well, remember what happened. The Chinese government said that this was some kind of bat or pangolin jump from nature to human transmission. We had the utmost confidence in the WHO, World Health Organization, and they confirmed that. Dr. Tedros said that it was non-transmissible between humans and it originated in a wet market.

There had been little rumors that there was a Level 4 virology lab in Wuhan, so that was the narrative. Donald Trump, remember, was doing trade deals at the time with China, so he actually accepted all of this.

Dr. [Anthony] Fauci was telling us, as the head of the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, that we shouldn’t worry and it won’t be a pandemic. For the first January and February, that was the narrative. Then when it started to spread, people started to notice that people in Wuhan had been locked down from other parts of China, but they were perfectly able or maybe encouraged to go to European ports of entry or LAX or JFK.

I think we had about a million people in that 11- or 12-day period when the Chinese communist government said, “Nobody from Wuhan is going to get near us, but you’re all going to go to the United States, if you wish.” So that was starting to break down this narrative that it was just a benign infectious coronavirus, and then suddenly people started to whisper there was a Chinese military presence in the lab.

There were dissident voices who said that the Chinese government was not telling you the truth about the severity or the transmissibility or the infectiousness of the virus, and then there were people, dissident voices who said, “We don’t have an animal species with the virus. We only have the human species, so we’ve got to find the animal.”

Then all of a sudden, this was hit with huge pushback—Dr. [Peter] Daszak, Dr. Fauci, WHO. How dare you try to be such a racist? Then the Chinese communist government was giving us propaganda talking points, which the left eagerly [used].

Then Donald Trump, in late April, excuse me, late March, started to say that was the virus and that thing came from the lab, and they were experimenting on gain-of-function, and he had probably seen intelligence reports. In fact, I think he said he did, and that became taboo because Donald Trump had said something.

This time, it wasn’t just, “There is no Russian collusion,” or “Hydroxychloroquine has efficacy,” but it was, “The Wuhan lab is connected with the origins of the virus.” So anything that Donald Trump said was true had to be false.

It was an election year, after all. Then the scientific community created—we created this word, “the science.” The science says, the genome says, the virologist said. Beneath this entire façade, there were motivations. Dr. Fauci had subsidized Echo Health, Dr. Daszak, with sizable grants who then had rechanneled some of that money into the virology lab to conduct gain-of-function research that was banned in the United States.

So then people reacted accordingly. We would not want American public to think that we encouraged a gain-of-function ability of a virus that was otherwise confined originally to a bat or pangolin, but we took that virus and changed it and it got out of this lab. That was about a year’s narrative.

My interest in all of this is not that it became politically incorrect to question the wet market thesis and to suggest the lab, but if you think about it rationally, a lot of people died. Just think if in January or February, the Chinese government had come out and said, “We were engaged in research, and we are not solely culpable because American public health officials gave us some money, so we’re jointly culpable, and we’ll jointly solve this problem. But this thing is really scary because it’s a gain-of-function, unnatural, engineered virus.”

The whole world would have just panicked, and we would have had lockdowns, and we would have had quarantines early. We might have stopped it.

But instead, anybody who suggested this was demonized, ostracized, canceled. Nobody cared about the truth. The truth was [evaluated by] are the aims or the ends to hurt Donald Trump? If it is, any means necessary are justified.

Mr. Jekielek: This wasn’t just the politicians and the bureaucrats that were holding this line, but there were major scientific periodicals. I’m thinking of “Nature,” one of the preeminent biology journals in the world, at least one of them, that were also very much holding this line, shockingly so, I think.

Mr. Hanson: Yes, I think one of the most egregious examples was “Lancet” in Britain where Dr. Daszak had actually encouraged a group of preeminent virologists and epidemiologists to speak with one voice and condemn anybody who would dare connect the lab with the origins of COVID, even though they were in the same city, very logical connection to be made.

What he didn’t tell us, under the guise of “the science,” was that he was engaged, as we said, in transferring funding to this lab, and more importantly, some of the people that he was organizing to sign that letter had conflicts of interest as well. The letter was not: let’s open a debate and investigation. The letter was that this is anti-scientific, or nonscientific, or how dare you?

Because looming behind all these discussions is the unmentionable, the unfathomable, the thing that terrifies us, and what would that be? That would be that an American preeminent scientist, doctor, medical professional, architect of national health policy—a Dr. Fauci, for example—knowingly channeled gain-of-function research money through a third party to China, and that that had something to do with an enhanced virus that then leaked when that laboratory was under suspicion prior of having lax security measures.

If that were true, then if you reduce it down to its essence, the United States had some culpability and did not tell the world that they had subsidized the creation of this satanic virus.

Mr. Jekielek: So you think this is all a political construct then or is there something deeper here?

Mr. Hanson: The lesson of all of this is multi-faceted. It has shaken the confidence in professionals with letters after their name—so BA, MA, PhD, JD, whatever the particular rubric is. We don’t believe that the World Health Organization is immune from Chinese propaganda.

We don’t believe, after we read the emails from Dr. Fauci, that because he’s an eminent MD and researcher that he deserves utmost respect, especially when he said that he deliberately mislead us about masks, so that people wouldn’t have a run on masks.

He deliberately mislead us about herd immunity so that people would get vaccinated. In other words, he used what we in classics call the Platonic noble lie. I’m smarter than you, I’m your platonic guardian. I can lie for your own good. You, the deplorables, are ignorant. You’ll benefit from my lie. Just don’t dare suggest I’m lying.

It really shook our confidence in that and then all of these organs of liberal expression in the media, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, The Network News. We all thought that they were in the civil liberties tradition. The more light, remember, democracy dies in darkness, so to speak, bring the light out. But they were actually collaborating with the establishment scientific community and the progressive political movement to squash any mention of a lab.

And then they did something that was, I think, unconscionable. When Donald Trump tried to irritate the Chinese, and he called it the Chinese virus, he was doing what we do by calling it the Spanish flu of 1918, or the Ebola virus because, or Lyme disease in Connecticut.

We’re speaking in the San Joaquin Valley. I grew up with something called Valley fever. I went to Stanford University and people say, “You live in the valley? What’s that Valley fever you guys all die of?” The point is that you always have a geographical connotation, and all Trump was doing is trying to needle them or troll them, but he was not being racist.

But then they fabricated this enormous narrative that Donald Trump was a racist, and therefore, nothing he said could be valuable. This would be later on very valuable in this post-truth world to say that even though data showed that overwhelmingly on a per capita basis, African-American male youth were overrepresented, if I can use that term, in attacks on Asians, and these were hate crimes that were not commensurate with their percentages of population, it didn’t matter.

People said, “We’re not going to report that crime,” or “we’re going to get a member of the Asian-American community to say that it’s still white people doing this because Donald Trump created the climate by using the word China or Wuhan virus.” So all of this was not connected with reality. It was not fact-based.

Mr. Jekielek: I think we’ve been talking about this idea that reality, what actually happened in a situation, seems to in past years become a lot less relevant or a lot less important to the general discourse. That of course can be used for political expediency. There’s an ideological bent to this.

Mr. Hanson: Yes. Well, in the Western empirical tradition, the Socratic tradition, the Aristotelian tradition, there were always dissidents. We call them the sophists. Sophist was not a bad word in antiquity. It just meant somebody who was wise like a sophist.

It could be a deprecatory word, but basically they challenged facts and reality. They said, “If I can prove an argument to you that you can be persuaded by words, then it’s true, or otherwise you wouldn’t be able to be persuaded,” and so the sophists began saying that there were things that were relative. You say honey is sweet. That’s only because you think it’s sweet. And then this person doesn’t like honey. Therefore, it’s not sweet—rather than, let’s systematically, empirically, in the inductive mood, get 100 people, poll them, and 99 percent will say, “Honey is sweeter than salt.” Therefore, it’s sweet.

But you see, they always take the exception to destroy the function or the foundation of empiricism. So that wasn’t new.

In the 19th century, Marxism—based on, there was Hegel and Nietzsche who were contributors to it—but it said, “These norms, these traditions, these laws, these canons are artificially constructed, and they’re constructed by a power class, people who inherited wealth or influence or got it through ill-gotten gains.”

And they’ve set up an arbitrary system of rules. They call this shoplifting, so they put you in jail when you go into a store and take something that’s not yours, but who says that they didn’t commit a crime to have the money to have that store?

So it was a method of being relativist and say that every single crime or every single thought, there was a class struggle behind it. Take that idea from Marx, and over the next century, it was going to be translated in the Frankfurt School, but especially by people in Italy like Gramsci and then back here in the United States, by Herbert Marcuse.

I was a student of Norman O. Brown’s at UC Santa Cruz. They said that this relativism is not just Marxist class struggle because after all, we don’t really have a class struggle in the United States. Free market capitalism can make a guy on Monday who’s middle class on Tuesday wealthy, and vice versa.

But they said, “It’s racist,” and race is immutable, it’ll never change. LeBron will be a victim the rest of his life, so will Oprah, so will Meghan Markle. It doesn’t matter how much money they have. This was a very valuable tool for the left because it said, “You don’t have to worry about losing your constituency.” LeBron is always going to be a victim because he’s black, and he’s always suffering from an oppressor class that have set up arbitrary rules, and so now when we look at this woke movement, this anti-empirical movement you’re talking about, CNN, Don Lemon can be a multi-millionaire, it doesn’t matter. He is a victim because he’s black, because the society is systemically racist.

Then notice how the vocabulary came in from the postmodernists. If you can’t see it, and it’s not fact-based, then it’s systemic, it’s insidious, or it’s a micro-aggression. So they had to come up with words to create a reality that otherwise wasn’t observable to the senses, and that was an untruth.

But basically, we’re in a climate that started on campus with academics, and it’s now permeated the larger culture that says crimes, laws, SAT scores, ACTs, GPAs, these are all constructs that are used to discriminate against people that don’t have access to power, and these people in our modern American society are more likely to be oppressed because of race.

We’re speaking in Fresno County. I can go right out my door and find 10 white people that are 20 years old that have no privilege. They’re either without BAs or high school degrees, and they’re working as welders, forklift drivers, long haul truckers. But according to this critical racial theory, they have a privilege that Oprah, the $2 billion worth Oprah, lacks because they’re white, and they exercise that privilege every day when they drive their forklift around.

That’s where we are. It’s like Alice through the looking glass. Everything’s upside down.

Mr. Jekielek: This is something I’ve been thinking about. Why this apparent war on merit, or war on even talent, I suppose?

Mr. Hanson: When you mention talent, you just mentioned a hierarchy. So if I was a sophist of the ancient or modern brand, I would say to you, “Well, what does talent mean? Define talent for me.”

You’re going to say, “Well, Victor, when you want to see if you’re going to be first chair violin, or second chair violin, or third chair in an orchestra. We’re going to put one person behind a wall and the other person behind a wall so you don’t know their identities, and you’re going to listen to the music.”

I’m going to say, “Oh yes,” but one person brought up in a particular cultural environment knows the technique of pleasing a particular violin strain to that particular audience that’s also privileged, and who to say is that strain is not as or more or less engaging than the person who happens to be a person of color?

I’m not making this up. This is now an attack on blind merit, so to speak, and this applies to everything. The danger of it is that there’s no end to it, it’s nihilistic, and it starts to impair the safety of society.

I’ve been to a lot of places in the world, and one of the things I always say to myself: why does the bathroom not work? Why is there trash outside? Why is the bus broken down? Why when somebody pulls out in front of somebody, they get out and fight?

I always come with the same conclusion: because they hire their first cousin. In other words, when I go to the Middle East, it’s a tribal society, and merit is not a criterion that people respect. It’s got a higher cronyism than the United States. We all have that, but it’s the aberration, not the norm.

Once you get rid of merit, and you start to use deductive qualifications, then you’re going to have an insidious decline. You can see it, if you think over the last 50 years in the age of affirmative action. What was the joke that everybody said? I think it was Cassius Clay, later, Muhammad Ali, when he was flying once, he said, “I want to make sure this pilot is of a particular race.” He was trying to say that he didn’t want affirmative action. They used to say nuclear plant operator.

The reason I mention that is that now we know that United Airlines is going to have pilot training that’s going to be based on racial criteria on who is going to be accepted, not prior skills or requisites.

So there will be no sacrosanct, no safe space, no sanctuary from wokeism until the system starts to erode the safety and the security of the elite that created it, and we’re starting to see that a little bit already.

Mr. Jekielek: For example, in Portland, the Antifa protests have turned into a whole lawless sector in the middle of Portland, presumably. So how is it that this just wasn’t dealt with for such a long time?

Mr. Hanson: Well, you remember the mayor, as I recall, of Portland said it was going to be a summer of love, I think. We had all of these mayors—I get them confused—the Seattle mayor, the Portland mayor, and the Minneapolis mayor.

Basically, if I could conflate them, they said that brick and mortar didn’t matter. If you burn down a precinct or a federal courthouse, it didn’t matter because these were symbols of authority that was unearned or ill-gotten, and that this natural exuberance would play itself out if we appeased it.

In other words, the laws of human nature no longer apply, that somebody will do something until there’s a deterrent to stop them. What stops them? What ultimately stops them? Society reaches a critical tipping point when people—the majority of the people, whether they’re vigilantes in San Francisco in 1850, or whether they’re the community of Salem, Massachusetts, when they’re starting to burn witches on charges of witchcraft—at some point, somebody says, “The society can no longer exist if this continues.”

What would be some of the things I’m talking about? If you have areas in Portland, or Seattle, or Minneapolis where the downtown is barricaded, where people have died there, where it’s filthy, then that’s something that people are going to be worried about.

If you go to Venice Beach on the way to Santa Monica, and you see people living like they’re out of the 8th century—feces, poor people, violence, tribalism.

Or if you’re in San Francisco, and you see a video of a person who rides his bike into a Walgreens and then in front of the security guard, fills up a trash bag with things, steals them unapologetically, is let go because he feels that it’s less than $1,000, so the lunatic district attorney will not charge him.

Well, that’s a breakdown in the order of society. We’re not talking about elite squabbles on who gets into Princeton and who doesn’t. We’re talking about getting up in the morning and being able to survive one more day.

When that is questioned—and we’re getting close in the major cities—then you’re going to have a gut check time. People are either going to say, “You know what? It’s lost. I’m heading out toward the rural areas. I’m going to find a community in Utah, or Nevada, or something, or I’m going to stay and fight.”

I don’t have an answer because, as an American, I think this is a collective madness that happened with George Floyd, the pandemic, the scares of the coronavirus, the lockdown, the quarantine, the self-induced recession, the George Floyd protests, the election year, the weird early voting mail-in ballots—all of those were forced multipliers of the madness.

Locked in, people were watching TV or computers and not interacting. I think that’s collective madness. I have to hope it’ll wane now, but maybe the virus is so deeply embedded now, it can’t be exiled.

Mr. Jekielek: What virus exactly are you talking about here?

Mr. Hanson: Well, I’m not talking about the recession virus, all those viruses, or the George Floyd reaction viruses, or the quarantine virus, or the election virus, but the woke virus.

That is the idea that somewhere in this annus horribilis of 2020, we collectively lost our mind, and we said that we’re going to adopt the culture and the code and the values of the Salem Witch Trials, the Reign of Terror in 1793 in France, and the McCarthyite period in the United States, where we’re going to cancel a person out if we find one incorrect thought or utterance. And we’re going to completely reject the civil rights movement and the visions of Martin Luther King, so the color of our skins is a very critical requisite of who we are, and not the content of our character.

That’s where we are, and we know from Iraq, Rwanda, and the Balkans where that leads. It leads to nihilism, deadly nihilism.

Mr. Jekielek: This is interesting. There’s been a lot of discussion about critical race theory. Of course, this is one of the ideologies behind what you’re talking about. There’s this element where the people who are advocates will say, “Well, you don’t really understand what it is,” and so forth.

Mr. Hanson: Well, critical means that it’s critical of the norm, and theory means that it can’t be proved, so it’s not a fact. It’s a suspicion.

It started in—there were elements of Marx in Freud. Think of that. Those are the two pernicious thinkers of the 19th century. Marx said that all of human experience can be defined as oppressor versus oppressed, or victim versus victimizer. There is no middle class. If there is a middle class, it’s only the deluded who think they’re middle class. So there’s this tension. Anybody who has things got them, ill-gotten gains, what we call now under critical race theory, honor and privilege, and then there are the people who have a right to take it from them and redistribute it.

Okay, that was the Marxist end. Then Freud came along and said, “What you and I are doing right now is not who we are. These are just superficial manifestations of deep-seated urges. If we were under psychoanalysis, or we got drunk, the real us would come out. The hang ups that we use to suppress our inner self cannot be taken seriously.” And that was very important because critical theory then adopted the idea that norms are not only to be termed them versus us, but what people say cannot be trusted.

If you say, “I’m not racist, I’ve never said the N-word.” They said, “Yes, but you said colored people instead of people of color. That suggests to me that deep down inside you really wanted to say the N-word. Or you live in a certain way that is systemically racist. You don’t know it, but I’m trained to fathom it.”

So a critical racial theory workshop specialist can, in Freudian fashion, can find your symptoms and say, “Ta da, he’s a racist. It’s insidious, it’s systemic.”

Those were the two fountainheads of critical theory. And then when you add the third necessary component—World War I and World War II, where Europe committed collective suicide—you saw it in painting, poetry. After World War I, they took something like Impressionism, which was a take off on classical reality, and then they went into Dadaism and Surrealism and got into Jackson Pollack.

Well, art never looked like anything the eyes saw. Poetry didn’t rhyme, it had no particular vocabulary. T.S. Eliot had seemed radical, and he would be, what, conservative. He was very soon compared to what was called poetry. You could throw anything on a page, just like you could with paint, and it was a poem. Then there were certain schools that grew up in that general period of depression.

Then this accelerated in World War II. When the French army, the bulwark of the West, with Churchill’s great faith that stopped Nazism, the very country that said, “They shall not pass” collapsed in six weeks in 1940 in May and June, how do you explain that to future generations? You don’t, so you come up with this French post-structuralism, post-modernism that you really either didn’t collapse or that it believed in fake laws or traditions.

You say anything other than what an empiricist would say, “Well, it was inevitable because you were teaching in the 1920s it was illegal to mention Verdun in a positive sense.” You just said it was a nihilistic bloodbath, whether then the French army saved France from Germany. Socialism was deeply embedded, and this is the net logical fruition.

What I’m getting at is that a lot of people, to explain reality that they did not like or they could not accept, took earlier Freudism, Marxism, and then critical theory was born in the Frankfurt School and Gramsci, and then that became critical legal theory.

We saw that in the 1980s in what people said. Originally, there were elements of truth in it. If you snort cocaine and you’re wealthy, you go five years to prison. If you cook it, and it’s crack cocaine, you got 20, because you’re black. Well, there may have been some truth to that.

But they expanded that to all of Western jurisprudence, that you don’t look at the law and you don’t look at the manner in which the law was made. You look at who benefits and who suffers from the law, and then therefore, you adjudicate it—whether it has any moral or legal authority.

And that was very important because the whole sanctuary city movement where you nullify federal laws based on a racist, oppressive, federal immigration law. Notice what was ironic about it was nullification of law was always a right-wing concept, so the left told us. It was what Andrew Jackson tried to fight with South Carolina in 1832. It was what caused the Civil War.

It was what George Wallace said in the door at the University of Alabama when he said, “I don’t have to follow federal law. This is the state’s rights.” Suddenly, state’s rights became great. You can nullify federal law because it’s for a noble purpose, so it was relativism par excellence.

That’s where we are, where every single idea is not factually based. I’m not exaggerating. I’m getting back to that earlier point. So if you have data that, let’s take an example, that non-white minority groups commit hate crimes against whites and each other at higher rates than in their percentages of the population than whites, that’s a data point.

It doesn’t matter. Whites are responsible for that because they have set up arbitrary norms of assessing that data, and they don’t tell you that a 22-year-old African-American male in New York walked up, took a hammer, and hit an Asian because he felt depressed or that he was exploited or that the larger society created him is responsible. That’s what critical race theory tends to do.

Mr. Jekielek: You mentioned the education in France in the 1920s, that’s interesting. There’s been some pushback that you talked about that you’ve started seeing. We’re seeing, for example, parents pushing back in K-12 education against critical race theory being taught, or the world being taught or whatever subject being taught, through the lens of one of these critical theories.

At the same time, we have people pushing back against that, saying—there are people pushing for legislation, and there are people saying, “Hey, wait a sec. The government shouldn’t be legislating what can be taught and not taught in schools.” There’s an interesting microcosm here.

Mr. Hanson: I think there are two things going on there, and one is that there are enough people who realize that every totalitarian movement, whether it’s national socialist, or communist, or Marxist, has to eventually address K-12 education because that’s where the future generations come from.

If you can take the child away from the home, and you can create a new man or a new woman, then that becomes an extremely valuable resource because if they’re trained right, that the higher morality is to stamp out racism, and they go home and hear their parents talk—well, their parents are not going to say anything racist, 99.9 percent. But they’re going to say things, which according to critical race theory could be interpreted that way.

The parents understand that, and they know what had happened in the Soviet Union, North Korea, and other places, so they’re saying, “Do not take my children, brainwash them, and ultimately turn them against me, because that’s what you’re doing.”

That’s very important because that’s the strongest bond in nature—between a child and his parents or her parents—and so I think that explains why people say, “We won’t have a society if these leftists turn the youth of America against us.”

The second thing is, very quickly, they understand that none of these woke issues have a 50 percent constituency—not open borders, not critical race theory, not the New Green Deal, not the cancel culture, not identity politics, none of it. So in a calm environment, people are not willingly going to embrace this wokeism.

But given a pandemic—Hillary said that. She said, “Thank God for the pandemic; it changed everything.” Without a pandemic, without a lockdown, without a recession, without George Floyd, without riots, without Trump, we wouldn’t have this state of hysteria. We’ve got to make it last. You never let a plague go to waste, and that’s where they are.

Finally, what people are worried about in the era of untruth, is that the people who are supposed to police the police, as the poet Juvenal said, “The experts versed in science are supposed to audit the scientists. They are the ones that are most suspicious.”

By that, I mean you can say that a person under 60 has a 99.97 percent chance of not becoming seriously—or dying, I should say—from COVID, or under, say 16, 99.99 percent of not dying, and therefore they don’t need to be vaccinated. If they have antibodies, especially, they don’t have to be. That’s a scientific fact.

But if that goes against a particular creed, or a government idea, or a lockdown, or something, or a mask wearing, then it will be discarded. So that’s what’s scary on matters of vaccination.

I’ll just give you one example. A person called me the other day, a pretty prominent person, doesn’t matter. He’s not somebody who is just a paranoid conspiracist. I mean prominent in the sense he reads widely.

He says to me, “I have high antibodies. I got a bad case of COVID. This organization will not let me attend unless I get vaccinated. My doctor has told me that people with my 90 plus titer, whatever that means, if they get a vaccination they have a larger, much greater chance of having a bad reaction, and my naturally acquired immunity at that level is superior, at least equal to a vaccination. I have proof of it, three. I have the test. Why can I not go to this organization without getting a vaccination that’s going to imperil my health?”

Somewhere behind all of this is Fauci’s “noble lie”. Somebody is thinking, either Fauci or somebody like him, is thinking, “Ah, but if we say that he does not have a, he has an excuse, he doesn’t have an excuse, he’s immune from the virus, then we’ll loosen the requirement, or we’ll need to have authenticity, so we’ll just lie and say, “You don’t have immunity. You have to be vaccinated.”

Only people with two shots, Moderna or Pfizer, maybe one, they have real immunity. Acquired immunity is counterfeit, and that’s pretty much where we are. You see people that will say, “I got a really bad case of COVID.” We’ll say, “Why didn’t you get vaccinated?” They’ll say, “I don’t want to get a bad reaction. I got better immunity than you.” Says who? We think they’re renegades.

This is a pretty conservative area and it’s kind of isolated, but if you and I get in the car right now and backroad in central California, I think about one out of every three people will drive by alone in a car, half of them vaccinated according to statistics, with a mask on.

There is zero chance that when you’re driving down Mountainview Avenue with a mask on inside your car, you’re going to be better or worse protected. You’re not going to be protected from anything because you’re vaccinated. There’s no pathogen anywhere in your car. Why wear a mask?

Mr. Jekielek: It’s interesting. It goes back to this question that’s been on my mind, which is basically, so there’s these noble, let’s say, noble lies that people may want to perpetrate for the good of society, ostensibly.

But that exists independently. It can exist independently of this, let’s say, the woke ideology or these Marxian ideologies. But it’s the intersection of these is what I find, I guess, fascinating because that’s what this year, in a way, has been that.

Mr. Hanson: I think so. I think the value of the Trump presidency was it was a catalyst, or maybe some kind of elixir that people drank, and it showed out what the pathologies were of America. He had that ability to scrape off the scab and show the putrid wound beneath, and so it was very clear, I think, to all of us by the first eight months, to take the example of Russian collusion, that Christopher Steele was a faker, that he had no sources, and he would later admit to that in a British court, that he had no evidence.

But people who were very supposedly well-versed in journalism or academia or political science kept saying, “collusion,” “indictment,” “bombshell,” “walls are closing on Trump” because they felt that the Russian collusion narrative was valuable.

It was a noble lie because it would weaken Donald Trump, and if it weakened Donald Trump, poor people, or people of color, or people of the underclass would have a better shot at life. Therefore, it really didn’t matter that you lied, and lied, and lied.

Same thing about hydroxychloroquine. When that drug was mentioned as a cheap, seven-cents-a-dose drug, proven anti-malarial. If you go on the website of the United Nations, you’ll find that it’s one of the United Nations’ safe drugs for inflammation like lupus, but especially for malaria. It’s been around for, in rare cases at high dosages per body weight, it may cause arrhythmias, but very rarely.

But Donald Trump said, “What do you have to lose? You might want to try it.” As soon as he said that, then all of a sudden it became a very dangerous drug. Many states barred doctors who prescribed it.

When you started to search, the number of hits for hydroxychloroquine were almost the same as COVID. So we took that drug that had efficacy in India, Brazil, all over the world, at least if it was used early and at the right dosage per body weight, and we demonized it.

Now we learn that actually, it did have efficacy. How many people died? I don’t know, a lot of them did. Dr. Steve Smith said 100 million may have died, 100,000, excuse me.

But the point I’m getting at, these are examples of, for the greater good of society, I, an elite, have determined what those people down there do not know, will never know, and just can’t possibly know. But for me to convince them what’s good for them, I have to lie to scare them, and I’m perfectly willing to do that, and I know when I’m lying and when I’m not.

They don’t realize that finally they don’t know when they’re lying, or when they’re not, or what they’re doing. It’s the argument of authority. I am a network news person. Therefore, I can lie.

I think it’s also a larger pathology of this whole American culture where we’re raising children of the upper classes to think that there’s a certain paradigm. You go to a city or a suburb around a city. You enjoy the cultural dynamism of New York, or Minneapolis, or Seattle, or Portland, San Francisco.

You completely divorce yourself from poor people or working class people, or nature. You get in this rat race to excel, and then you go to an Ivy League. It doesn’t really matter if Brown, or Dartmouth, or Stanford, or Harvard is teaching you anything, but like a cow, you’re branded with that BA.

“I have a BA from Brown.” “Oh, I have a BA from Yale,” and then you’ve got entrée into the society where you get these professional jobs. Nobody ever says to the person, “Are you well-rounded? Do you know, if the wind comes from the north or south, is it more likely to rain? Have you ever seen somebody that’s poor? Do you ever have to get along with somebody who doesn’t share your background? Do you feel guilty about that, or not?”

So I think a lot of our problems are that a lot of this, especially white culture of the upper classes, has divorced themselves from poverty, from race, and associates with people of white kind, and they feel guilty about it.

They want us, society, to give them exemption, and how do they get that exemption? By claiming there’s a racist under every bed, or they’re somebody who stinks up Walmart, or is a deplorable, an irredeemable, a clinger, a dregs, a chump, or a Neanderthal to quote Biden and Clinton and Obama.

That gives them psychological recompense for living, in an empirical fashion, it would be called a segregated life.

Mr. Jekielek: So now we’ve come a bit full circle here back to an epistemic crisis, but also, a fundamental doubt, as you already articulated, in what are supposed to be the credible authorities because tons of people that I’ve spoken with say, “Hey, these people are letting us down. We can’t trust them anymore,” Where can we go from here in this sort of a situation? How is that trust earned back?

Mr. Hanson: Yes, where do we go from here is I think we’re going to see certain trends, insidious, slow, but trends nonetheless. I think people are going to say to themselves, “If that person went to the public schools and, say, from five years from now or six years, that person is likely not as well educated as someone who went to a private school, parochial school, or was home-schooled.”

If a person applies for a job with a Harvard or Yale or Stanford degree, it doesn’t mean much anymore. You’d be better off privately hiring somebody from St. John’s, or Thomas Aquinas, or Hillsdale College because we know that in the Ivy League, that degree means nothing now.

It used to be an employer who was cynical would tell you, “Yeah, I hired a guy for my business with a BA from Stanford. I know they don’t teach anything and they’re indoctrinated there, but at least they have SAT scores and GPAs so they did the selection bit for me. They have natural talent, so I’ll just use them, and then I’ll train them the way they should be trained that they never learn because they were woke or whatever.”

Now they don’t even believe that, because they believe that the admissions are no longer meritocratic, that there’s no longer a test score required like an ACT, or SAT, or GPA. It’s just arbitrary. And so I think they’re losing credibility.

The doctors are losing credibility. Where did we have doctors? Where did we have the idea of PhDs? Where did the MD [come from]? It was all a reaction to a mess of free for all thinking and frontierism in the 19th century. People said, “Let’s be systematic and make a meritocracy,” and now we’re in a whole cyclical pattern where we’re saying, “You know what? We didn’t have any police to police our police.”

I really resent a lot of these people, bureaucrats at the highest level of the U.S. government with degrees that were used for arguments from authority, college presidents.

Think of all the bizarre things we’ve heard the last year. How many college presidents have been on a YouTube cut who said, “I just want to say right now that I suffer from honor and white privilege.” You’re thinking, “honor and white privilege.”

Or they’ll say, “I think we live in a racist society here, and it’s here at Stanford. It’s here at Princeton. Don’t think it isn’t.” You’re thinking, okay. If you experience honor and white privilege, why in the hell are you have that job? We can get all kinds of people to take it from you because you didn’t earn it, or we can say, “Well, the government says they can’t give money to places that have racist tendencies. Since you just admitted that Stanford, or Princeton, or Harvard is racist, then don’t take any federal money until you solve the problem.”

This is a lot of virtue signaling and performancing from the wealthy classes because again, it gets back to this fundamental crisis in Western society that these elites then are sort of like Marie Antoinette dressed up as peasants playing around at Versaille because they have lost all authenticity.

They don’t know anything about nature. They don’t know anything about the physical world. They don’t know anything about human nature, and they compensate for it by all of these critical race theories, wokeness, all of this stuff.

We could have survived the virus. We could’ve survived the lockdown. We could’ve survived the first self-induced recession. We may have survived 120 days of coerced riots in U.S. history. We’re not told [it was coerced], but it’s true. We might have survived 100 million people voting without showing up on Election Day. We might have survived the controversy of Don[ald Trump], but not all of them together.

That was a perfect storm. It unleashed a madness within us and every pathology that we had struggled for, the restraints were off. I don’t know if we’re going to get out of it or not.

Mr. Jekielek: So Victor, why in this ideology is there such an inordinate focus on the victim or maybe absolution of apparent victims of accountability? That’s at least what I’m seeing.

Mr. Hanson: That’s a complex question, and I think there’s an old or ancient explanation, and there’s a modern one.

Start with the ancient one. If we were to look at novels, historians, biographers, Suetonius, Petronius, all the way back to Thucydides, there’s a certain recognition that, in the West, when you have a consensual society, and you allow personal expression, and you draw on all members of society contribute, and you have a protection of private property, and you have a legal code that’s not just arbitrary—the whole Western menu—then you start to do two things. You give people security and affluence, and this grows, and grows, and grows, and grows.

People then are no longer worried about dying at night from a marauding tribe crossing the Danube. They’re no longer worried of starving to death. They’re no longer worried that somebody’s going to knock on their door and slit their throat, and they start to do great things. They build the Parthenon, or the Pantheon, or they write Tacitus’ “Histories,” and that was the Western paradigm.

But there were a lot of voices, not just the crazy people like Nietzsche and Hegel and Spengler, but ancient people as well. They said, “You got to be very careful because we’re not programmed to be that way. We have certain instinctual needs. We’re pretty savage people,” Thucydides especially, the thin veneer of civilization.

You start allowing people to be wealthy and leisured, and you take off the constraints, and the constraints are your family, or your traditions, or your religion that say [although] it’s legal to do that and you have physical and material ability to do it, but don’t do it—then you’ve got chaos.

So there was a sense that these Western societies, as they get wealthier and more affluent, especially—we have detours with wars, and plagues, and religious movements, but now we’re in a globalized post-war, postmodern society where the level of affluence and leisure is such that we don’t have these appetites, and people are always going to the next level.

That’s part of it, that we’re just a confused, spoiled group. We’re a collective. Remember the Affordable Care Act pajama boy commercial or the life of Julia where we get these two dysfunctional, prolonged adolescents advising us, a guy with pajamas that’s drinking hot chocolate like a perennial boy who’s like 19, or a young woman who says, “Thanks to the government, and then from the moment I was born, the moment I’ve died, I’ve only been on the government teat,” and this is supposed to be something we all aspire for.

Anybody else in the world would think they’re crazy. Columbus would say, “I’m not going to take a risk.” Charles Lindbergh said, “Where’s my insurance policy? I can’t fly to France. This is too dangerous.” So that’s what we’ve done. We’ve infantilized, made infants out of all of us.

Then it also creates guilt. As I said before, a lot of this is, why do I have so much money? Why do I have so much freedom? Look at that guy over in Africa. Look at that person in Oaxaca, Mexico. They don’t have what I have. Why is that?

If you say, “Take a deep breath, here is something called the Enlightenment, the Renaissance, Classical Greece, and then this led to the Founding, and this is a system that’s available to anybody, and certain people did it, and certain people didn’t. It didn’t have anything to do with race. That’s why you’re privileged and you should help people, but you have to understand that you were born lucky in the West.”

That’s a very hard thing for people to do, apparently. So there’s this intrinsic guilt among Western elites.

What I get really angry, and I think you do, or all of our listeners do, is that this hijacking of success and a noble tradition. So I’m sitting in a house in which my great-great-grandmother came out, northerners from Missouri, after the Civil War.

I never met them. In fact, my grandfather died here in 1976. He was born in the same room in 1890, but I heard stories that he heard from his grandfather about his grandmother. It was heroism how they got in wagons and came out here, how they finally found a railhead.

I just am not going to be prepared at the age of 67 to say, “They were white, and these were non-white. Therefore, they were bad and these people were good.” I don’t accept that infantile reductionism guilt.

I had a father, and his picture’s around here a lot, who flew 40 times in a B29 over Tokyo. This was a racist, militaristic government that was killing 15,000 people a day in Asia and butchered 15 million Chinese. He was on some of the most severe raids there were.

He didn’t wear a parachute when he was over Japan because war is war. They executed you when you bailed out anyway. I’m not going to suddenly say to him, “You did not stop that slaughter. You did not help us win World War II. You did not make it possible for me not to worry about, but you’re a racist because you were white, and you were bombing Asians.”

I’m just not going to do that. I think if everybody just said, “Race is an important facet of all of our lives, but it does not define who we are.” The irony is when people start saying, “Well, World War II was based on segregation,” you think, well, that was something to be embarrassed about.

A democracy should not be hypocritical and not using their African-American populations as frontline soldiers although we did in some cases especially the Red Tail fighters in Italy.

But if you want to talk about racism as being a prime mover of World War II, then you better talk about Germans killing white people because they were “un-Aryan,” or “non-Aryan,” 6 million Jews, 20 million Ukranians and Russians.

Or Japanese killing intersectionally, in intersectional fashion, Chinese because they were not Asians of the right particular race. So what I despise about all of this are these young, social justice branded BA students, or young people, and they want us to reduce the whole rich tapestry of history into one of melodrama, cheap melodrama, “That guy’s bad, he’s good.”

Sherman may have gone all the way into Georgia, freed 30,000 slaves, crushed the Confederacy, went up through the Carolinas, helped Grant’s force lead a surrender, but he said the N-word once; therefore, he’s canceled out.

Finally, you think, okay. Have you ever noticed this? When they tear these statues, why don’t new ones pop up? I’m waiting for them. They say they’re going to change the school name. Every time they take away a name, they give another name, and they take it away because they don’t understand they’ve created this Frankensteinian monster of relativism that says there is no concession that we’re human.

You have to be 99.9999 percent pure, and none of them can make their own standards. So just think for a second. We tear down, I don’t know, Columbus’s statue. Let’s put up Martin Luther King’s statue. Can’t do that. He plagiarized his PhD thesis. He treated women in an awful manner, so his whole wonderful career is canceled out.

Well, how about Malcolm X, he’s more authentic as a racial frontline fighter. No, no, no, no, no. He used violence, he hurt people. We could go on, and on, and on.

But once you start to destroy hierarchy, rules, norms, traditions and say that somebody is going to be canceled because they’re not perfect and therefore they’re not good, then let’s see the people you’re going to replace.

We’re starting to see this in the Biden administration because they’re starting to nominate people as correctives for white supremacy, and guess what? Hunter Biden used the N-word. Joe Biden said, “You ain’t black.” Joe Biden has a whole litany of sexual harassment problems. We have people in the civil rights division of the Justice Department who have said a lot of racist things.

And so if we were to apply the same standards that they are censoring and ruining lives themselves, then they only have one out and that’s critical race theory, and critical race theory says, “Racists cannot be racist,” and the only anecdote, according to Mr. Kennedy, for racists in the past are to be racist in the present, and to be racists in the future.

If there’s a yang of racism, then you need a yang of racism. So therefore, we want people who say, like Sarah Jeong on The New York Times, that “I love treating white people like a dog. I consider them like a dog urinating.”

Or we had this graduation speaker that took on the Israelis and the Palestinians, and just full of hate, and that’s the only way you can justify it. What I’m getting at, in a very clumsy way, is this relativism matters because it’s essential to this woke movement, that they not be judged by the standards they judge others.

Mark Zuckerberg can be an authentic social justice champion of the underclass, pour $500 million into select precincts to alter the election, that he thinks he’s going to alter it, but he’s okay to build 57,000 square foot home in a pristine, identical white, and that’s where we are.

You have to have exemption because this relativist movement can never meet its own standards.

Mr. Jekielek: One apparent exemption that has been a lot on my mind, my father-in-law being a Holocaust survivor, is this apparent pass for anti-Semitism that we’ve been actually seeing in past weeks as if it was just there, and suddenly came up out of, well, I won’t say nowhere, but, what do you make of that?

Mr. Hanson: A lot of things. When I was in college and as a young adult, the left always said they hated Israel. I’d always ask myself, why are almost half the resolutions at the UN aimed at Israel? Or if you are so worried about annexation, why don’t people say, “Well, Turkey’s taken half of Cyprus?”

Or if they’re worried about refugees and displaced people, how about the 13 million East Prussians that walked back to Germany. They’re not saying, “I have the keys to my home in Danzig and these Poles call it the Gdańsk and my German ancestors were there. That didn’t happen.

Or the Volga? Nope. Do you and I worry about the Volga Germans that Stalin displaced? Why was it only the Palestinian? So then I said to myself, it’s because Israel is Jewish. They apply a particular standard to it.

I used to think that, and then they would always say—they meaning the left, the anti-Israeli left—they say, “Well, we just don’t like Israel. It’s nothing to do with Jews.” Then, I became, years ago, I said, “No, it’s because you hate Jews that you hate Israel, not because you hate Israel, but you like Jews. You hate Jews for a variety of reasons, and therefore, you hate Israel, and you apply standards to it that you don’t apply to any other society.”

Why do you hate Jews? It goes back to Roman times with the diaspora, but you could argue that Jews to survive when they were spread throughout with the destruction of the temple, under Vespasian, that they had to cling together.

They had a religion that did not accept that Jesus was the Messiah, so they were spread throughout Europe and they were denied land-owning. They were denied aristocratic titles, and they did not have opportunities to gain influence and social standing commensurate with their talent.

And so they turned to, I don’t know, banking, or precious metals. So their names were suddenly Mr. Satin and Mr. Silver and Mr. Gold. That prejudice, generalization, and stereotyping was mostly by the right and it was opposed by the civil libertarian left, the enlightenment.

They would say, “Well, wait a minute, Mr. Silver, da, da, da, da, da on all the quantifiable data is actually a sterling citizen. This prejudice is stupid.” That’s what I grew up with. I had wonderful parents, and I never met somebody who was Jewish until I was 18 that I knew of.

I would come from, I’d say, “Wow, I met all these people who are Jewish.” My parents would say, “So what?” There is an old anti-Semitism prejudice. I didn’t know what it was. But then I noticed it switched. It wasn’t some nutty guy telling me that the raisin market back East was fixed by a bunch of Jews in Rome and that’s why we didn’t get good money for raisins. Those guys were gone.

It was, I’d walk across campus, and I’d see PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization]. I’d see a picture on the Berkeley campus of a hook-nosed Jew, or I’d see people say, “F Israel.” I’d say, “Well, this doesn’t make any sense. It’s a constitutional society. Why do they hate?”

So the left began to hate Jews. Then I noticed another thing, that many of the people who were voicing this hatred were people of color, or at least they identified that way.

They then say, “We can’t be anti-Semitic because we are victims ourselves.” But they were the most anti-Semitic, and they got exemption from the larger culture, and so right now the threat is, of anti-Semitism, is a respectable, academic, intellectual people of color as well movement, not exclusively, movement among the left-wing elite and there’s no New York Times, Washington Post, NPR to audit it because they are part of it in their hatred of Israel.

The irony, who are the people who are objecting to this? They tend to be evangelical Christians. They tend to be conservatives. They tend to be the illiberal. But I can guarantee you if you wore a distinctive, orthodox garb or beard, and you went to a Trump rally, you would be treated much better than if you went to a Black Lives Matter rally. I would stake my life on that.

I’m not trying to denigrate Black Lives Matter, but I’m just saying that the so-called Christian or conservative movement will more closely police itself on matters of anti-Semitism now, and the woke, black, critical theory, whatever term we use for the black intellectual elite, they will be less so inclined.

I’m telling you that every time we hear an anti-Semitic proclamation announcement, speech, it comes from people in Congress who either have a map with Israel or not on it, or it’s just the Benjamin’s baby. In almost every case, they will be from a protected minority group and they feel that they have no deterrent worries, and that they can say whatever they want. And they’re correct—they can.

Not only that, but the people who will say, “Wait a minute, you’re applying a standard to Israel that you would never apply to any other society because you have a deep-seated dislike of the people who live in Israel because they’re Jewish.” They’re going to say, “How dare you, that’s Islamophobic, that’s racist,” and that’s where we are. Nobody has the guts to say it, but it’s true.

Mr. Jekielek: A few people that I’ve spoken with had said that one of the causes of this is that Israel has been, I think, it was described to me as just remarkably successful against all odds and that itself, again, perhaps it’s this attack on merit.

Mr. Hanson: Yeah, we’re going back to what we discussed earlier, that the West, because of its unique combination of human freedom, constitutional government, meritocracy, and free market capitalism, creates a lot of leisure and wealth and becomes very powerful, and can project power, intellectual power, cultural power.

That can be everything from rap music to disco in my generation or Christopher Columbus. So the Aztecs are not going to sail up into a river in Spain, and you’re not going to, the Zulus are not going to mount an invasion of the United Kingdom, not that the Mongols didn’t do it earlier.

But the point I’m making is Western civilization, it’s not a moral question. It has a dynamism and people were guilty about that. They want to know why, and they want to apologize, some of them.

Remember, I think her name was Mrs. Jellyby in Bleak House, of Dickens. She’s a character in the novel and her kids are all sloppy, they’re not washed, they’re not literate, and yet she’s a member of the Victorian upper class because she’s always worried about the plight of a poor group suffering from British imperialism around 1850 in Africa or Asia.

Dickens is trying to show you that a person who cannot handle the concrete pathologies and their own myths because they’re messy and dirty and they’re hard to resolve, will find an excuse as an abstract, distant problem they can’t solve, and that way they square the circle of their impotence and guilt. I think that’s a lot of what the West does.

In the case of Israel, for me, it’s always 1967. Prior to 1967, it was surrounded by all of these hostile powers. There was pan-Arabism, was sweeping the globe. The Soviet Union had armed all of its enemies, and Nasserism. It was going to be extinct, and these were the children of the Holocaust, and so we were pro-Israeli, and France was too.

Britain less so because of the colonial direct interest in Jordan, and then suddenly they won the ’67 war, and they said, “You know what? This is the third war. We’re not going to do it again, so we’re going to keep some of this land and use it to negotiate,” and then suddenly they became the oppressor.

They were too powerful, too successful, too Western. … It used to be, we hate Israel because it’s successful. We hate Israel because it’s Western. Now it’s, we hate Israel because it’s white. You’re seeing the woke movement saying, “This is an outpost of white supremacy against people of color,” and this racial reductionism that is wokeism.

Mr. Jekielek: Yes, I’ve heard the term white-adjacent, which is, that’s an interesting term.

Mr. Hanson: Yes. The one that scares me is “whiteness” because that has a pedigree with Jewishness. In the Third Reich, especially before World War II when Hitler created these crackpot theories, Alfred Rosenberg, etc., and they built on 19th century German anti-Semitism, they came up obviously with a problem, and that is everybody knew Jews that were wonderful people, and some people were half Jewish and a quarter Jewish.

Even when they got to the point with thinking that they were going to wear stars eventually, they said to themselves, “Why did that come in practice?” Well, they said, “Well, when we go to Eastern Europe and the poor parts, they’re going to be distinguished as Orthodox Jews.”

But here, it’s impossible to distinguish them. Therefore, we’re going to ostracize them. We’re going to trace their lineage. We’re going to go, and then certain people within the Nazi ranks said, “Well, wait a minute. If we can’t tell who they are, then why are they any different? If we like them, why are they bad?”

That had to be suppressed, so that they came up with this thing called Jewishness because they suffered from Jewishness, not because they looked different, or not because they’re Orthodox Jews, so we have to identify them through careful analysis of their genetic code, or their, not genetic code, but their lineage, or who they associate with, or we’re going to trace their nomenclature because we can’t find out otherwise.

But we have to say that they suffer from Jewishness, and what was Jewishness? It was communism. It was pacifism. It was usury. It was these blood libels, and this whiteness now is, “Well, we can’t, this white guy, my neighbor has been really nice to me, and I’ve never heard the N-word by these people, so we’re going to have to say they all suffer from whiteness and that is a pathological, genetic defect at birth.”

So if I were to say, “You suffer from Hispanicness, or Latinoism, or black,” what would people think? It would be one of the most racist things in the world. This is the wages of what happens when we make race essential rather than incidental to who you are. Individuals vanish, and we become cookie cutter versions of our imagination and fears.

Mr. Jekielek: Victor, we’ve talked a little bit about people pushing back after this very, very, I think anyone would agree, crazy year of 2020. As we finish up, what do you see happening now?

Mr. Hanson: I think we’re at a crossroads and people are afraid. In every workplace in America and every teacher’s lounge, every campus, every political caucus, we have people doing this.

Who is going to win? Which side is the greater threat? If I call this person a racist, will the people who hail me and applaud me, even though there’s no evidence of it, be more advantageous to my career, to my safety, to my income.

Or will the people who say, “That’s a false accusation, how dare you? You’re a McCarthiac” or this way, and they don’t know the answer to it. It’s like during the French Revolution: who’s going to win, the Jacobins or the Thermadors, or the Trotskyites, or the Stalinites, or the Bolsheviks, or the Mensheviks, or the Czarists.

So it’s very important, if you believe in constitutional government and the unique exceptionalism—it’s a redundancy, but that’s what it is—of the United States, that everybody pushed the needle a little bit, and how do you do that?

You have to speak out, and you have to use language that’s graphic and empirical. So if somebody says—and I’m going to quote now indirectly—if a writer in “The Root” magazine says, “White people are responsible for every pathology from the melting of the ice caps, to environmental damage, to viruses, epidemics.”

Or if, I think his name is Mr. Mystal, a Harvard Law graduate, says, “When I come out of my quarantine, I really don’t want to see white people. I got used to not seeing them. I just don’t want to see them anymore.”

Or if you’re a professor at Barnard and you write a novel: can you imagine my dream is to have a room full of white people and say, “You’re all going to be gassed.”

Or if I’m going to be a professor, a psychiatrist, I’m going to go to Yale. I’m going to give a talk, and I’m going to say, “I have dreams of taking a revolver and collectively shooting white people in the head.”

That’s pass for permissible discourse? It’s a free country. I have no problem with them saying it if that’s what they want to say, but they then have to deserve the wages and the wages are: you are a racist, and you’re a pathological racist, and you’re a cruel person, and I’m going to tell you that.

I don’t care what you say to me. You have no way, I’m a free person. I’m liberated. There’s nothing you can do to hurt me. Take my money away. Take my life away. I’m not going to live on my knees. When 51 percent of the people say that, it will pass, and then we’ll have a period of recriminations. People are going to say, “Wait a minute, you were in that mob.”

It’s kind of like out West when the entire mob comes up on Saturday night and Gary Cooper or John Wayne or somebody has got a shotgun. He said, “You are not going to go lynch that guy in the jail.” They say, “a yea yea yea,” and then the sheriff comes out and says, “Well, you may get me but da, da, da, da, da,” and then it dissipates. The next day they see people at the store or on a horse, and they go like this. “I wasn’t part of the mob.” You have to change the whole dynamic.

I think it’s going to happen because people are leaving a written and oral record of what they’re saying, and they’re so caught up in the frenzy and the madness. They have no idea what they’re saying. I know what I’m saying right now, and I think I can listen to this recording and not have to apologize for it because I’m not being racist. I’m not being cruel. I’m not lying.

But they are doing these things, and it’s going to be with them forever. It’s going to be a record of a period in 2020 to ’21 when a small group of very cruel, careerist, selfish people tried to destroy the United States’ traditions and make life miserable for people who used to get along with each other.

They’re going to pay a price. I hope so, because they deserve it. I’m going to speak up and people in my family are going to speak up, and you should speak up, and our audience should speak up because we know what happens when we don’t.

When you don’t speak up, you get the Robespierre brothers and the French Revolution. When you don’t speak up, you get the Leninists taking over a movement from Korinsky to have a consensual society in Russia. When you don’t speak up, you get something far worse than the nationalists in China, you get Mao. When you don’t speak up, you get the McCarthyites running wild in Hollywood, and you get the Salem witch trial on a continental scale.

So we have no choice. It’s a consensual society, a free society, and the abyss, a return to the Dark Ages. That’s where we’re headed if we don’t have the courage to stop it. If we don’t have the courage to stop it, we deserve it.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, Victor Davis Hanson, it’s so good to have you on.

Mr. Hanson: Thank you for having me again.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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