Hanson admits his cluelessness

For eight years I’ve been saying that conservative star Victor Davis Hanson is an empty gasbag whose voluminous criticisms of liberalism (with a tiny number of exceptions) never go anywhere because (1) he himself is a liberal, and so does not view liberalism from a non-liberal perspective; and therefore (2) what he sees as wrong with liberals is not their liberal principles and beliefs, but their personal attitudes, their neuroses, their sense of superiority. So he’s incapable of getting a conceptual grasp of the subject about which he writes an endless flood of articles. Hanson through his prolific writings and exalted status in the conservative realm has done incalculable harm to conservatives’ ability to understand political reality.

Here is an extreme example of what I mean: Hanson at the Corner says that when Obamites such as NASA chief Charles Bolden and Army Chief of Staff George Casey say shockingly leftist, pro-Islamic, and anti-American things, they cannot really mean what they are saying.

It Cannot Be that NASA Has Nothing Better to Do [Victor Davis Hanson]

NASA chief Charles Bolden, an impressive former Marine Corps major general and astronaut, recently waxed eloquent about his tripartite mission at the space agency he was entrusted with by President Obama. [LA replies: Hanson describes a painfully obvious beneficiary of Affirmative Action as “impressive.” If Bolden were white, would Hanson say he was impressive? Thus the race-blind conservatives, by their reflexive overpraise of blacks, show that they are not race-blind at all but are very much aware of black intellectual deficits, though what they say is the opposite of what they really think.] Strangely, his third “and perhaps foremost” objective is apparently “to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.” This, Bolden explains, is part of the president’s “Cairo Initiative,” a reification of the speechmaking he offered to the Muslim world last summer in Cairo.

One’s first reaction: Surely General Bolden does not mean what he said (just as General Casey could not have really meant that a key worry after the Fort Hood massacre was a possible loss in support for the army’s diversity program). First, is the recent record of NASA so sterling that now, in a time of record deficits, we have manpower and capital to invest in public relations with the Muslim world? And if so, why not with Latin America, or the African world? [LA replies: Hanson’s explanation of liberals making liberal statements is that they can’t mean what they’re saying. He even says this about one of the most extreme and revealing statements ever made by a liberal American official, Army Secretary George Casey’s remark last November that to have forced mass murderer Nidal Hasan out of the Army and thus harm the Army’s diversity would have been a greater tragedy than the mass murder Hasan committed. I wrote at the time that Casey’s “diversity is more important than the lives of my soldiers” remark “represents a turning point in the progress of liberalism—a non-deniable, non-spinnable confession by the powers that be of their true beliefs and intentions. They intend our extinction.” But moderate liberals, such as Hanson, cannot see the reality of George Casey’s hardline liberalism, because they think of liberalism as something nice and benign. Thus all kinds of commentators who voted for Obama but now oppose him, such as Michael Goodwin at the New York Post, say that they voted for him because they thought he was a moderate centrist, when, in reality, his radical leftist background was there for all to see.]

Second, if the Iranian bomb program, the Syrian SCUD franchise, or Dr. Khan’s nuclear store are any indication, the Muslim world seems quite well acquainted with the potentials of stratospheric research and development—something we will come to know very soon without NASA outreach.

Third, is it really the business of a government scientific agency to produce historical and scientific narratives for political purposes? And do we really wish to return to the embarrassment of last June’s Cairo mythmaking? In that address, the president misled his audience on nearly every “fact” he presented, from the absurdity of Muslims in Cordoba supposedly serving as beacons of tolerance during the Inquisition (there were essentially no Muslims in Cordoba at the time) to the assertion that Muslims helped to jumpstart the Renaissance and the Enlightenment (when, in fact, flight from or reaction against Islam in the eastern Mediterranean had far more to do with both European intellectual awakenings). [LA replies: In his Cairo speech, as I have shown, Obama clearly stated where he is coming from: he sees himself as the champion and enforcer of Islam against our anti-Islamic “stereotypes.” Hanson can’t see that. He thinks Obama was simply committing an “embarrassing” faux pas, which, Hanson assumes, Obama now understands was a faux pas and shouldn’t repeat. Why can’t Hanson see what Obama so clearly is? Because to see it, would mean to acknowledge that liberals do not believe more or less the same things that we believe and only differ with us over details, but that liberals are at war with us. Which would mean the end of the liberal consensus which governs modern society and the initiation of real political warfare against liberalism. The main function of “conservatives” such as Hanson and the National Review crowd is to contain criticism of liberalism within harmless channels that don’t actually threaten liberalism.]

Bolden, like so many Obama appointees, has impressive dossier and yet seems to say some very strange things that put ideology above all else—e.g., Eric Holder (“nation of cowards”), Hilda Solis (“documented or not”), Janet Napolitano (“man-caused disasters”), Ken Salazar (“boot on their neck”), or Steven Chu (“no more agriculture in California”).

We all know that Bolden means well and wishes to get his agency on board with President Obama’s larger plan to create a kinder and gentler image to the Muslim world in order to lessen world tension and reduce terrorist attacks against the U.S. [LA replies: Hanson said earlier that he thought it was impossible that Bolden believes that NASA should be about reaching out to Muslims; now he’s saying that reaching out to Muslims is a good idea.] Unfortunately, world tensions are rising, and 2009 saw the most foiled terrorist attempts against the U.S. mainland since 2001, so one can wonder about the efficacy of these approaches, or even worry that they are having the opposite effect of what they intend. [LA replies: Hanson actually thinks that Obama is trying to get Muslims to like us, when the reality is that Obama is on Islam’s side against us.] But the real problem with using NASA as an arm of the State Department’s current politically correct agenda is that it is supposed to have other things to do.

James P., who sent the item, writes:

Victor Davis Hanson wonders: Why is it that Obama and all his appointees keep saying insane things? They have impressive resumes, and they have good intentions, so they can’t really mean what they say, can they? At some point VDH is going to have to admit that yes, they really do mean it, and no, it is not an accident that they are consistently pursuing a destructive agenda. But that day is not today!

LA replies:

But what makes it any more likely that Hanson will eventually see the error of his ways, as James suggests, than that Obama will eventually see the error of his, as Hanson suggests?

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 07, 2010 11:29 AM | Send

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