February 4, 2022

We’re heading into a “systems collapse,” of the societal structures underpinning our very way of life. The culprit? “Hard Left ‘woke’ ideology.” So says Victor Davis Hanson in a syndicated column. It’s scary — scary that anyone could see things so upside-down.

Hanson is not obviously a nut job; a right-wing “public intellectual,” with a seemingly impressive resume. And his column might resonate, if you knew nothing of reality.

He asserts that “wokeness” is making the U.S. fall apart like Venezuela (whose socialist dictatorship has crashed GDP by 75%). “Crime soars. Inflation roars.” Law enforcement defunded. “Millions of impoverished foreigners” allowed to enter illegally. U.S. global credibility shattered. Politicized health bureaucracies discredited. Et cetera.

And, Hanson says, “after decades of improving race relations, America is regressing into a pre-modern tribal society.”

Most of this is overblown or outright false. America is enjoying stonking economic growth, with unemployment nearing record lows and wages rising. Police budgets, on average, are increasing, and despite recent spikes crime is still way below levels decades ago. Border policies remain very restrictive. Health authorities are demonized by fools.

We do have problems — but blaming them all on “woke ideology” is just silly. I’ve criticized it harshly myself, yet in fact wokism doesn’t hold power (outside academia). While conspicuously absent from Hanson’s screed are the words “Trump” and “Republicans.” As if they did not rule for four of the last five years; as if the world began on January 20, 2021.

“Systems collapse?” With Trump the bottom fell out of our civic culture. Shredding rule of law, presidential accountability, norms of public civility, and our global standing. Trump’s handling of the pandemic was idiotic; vaccine refusal by his cultists remains a huge problem. And particularly outrageous is Hanson’s saying it’s “critical race theory” that has wrecked “a once tolerant, multicultural nation.” Forgetting Trump’s ugly racial divisiveness, pumping up white supremacism, grievance, and caste anxiety. A far bigger accelerant for tribalistic antagonism.

And get this. “Strangest in 2021,” Hanson writes, “was the systemic attack on our ancient institutions.” Does he mean January 6, when a violent mob stormed the Capitol as part of Trump’s attempted coup? And his big “vote fraud” lie, propelling Republican efforts to undermine voting rights and public confidence in our election systems? Of course not. Those go unmentioned. (Instead it’s the left assaulting the time-honored electoral college, the filibuster (!), and even, Hanson says, our “50-state union.”)

He finally speaks of “a tragically bewildered, petulant, and incompetent president . . . who seems to believe his divisive chaos is working.” A perfect description of Trump? Yet Hanson is talking about Biden! Elsewhere, he has likened Trump to a hero of ancient literature sacrificing himself for the greater good. (If he evokes anyone in ancient lore, it’s Narcissus.)

You may have reasons to be a Trump supporter. And Biden has his weaknesses. But Hanson’s ridiculous inversions of reality bespeak a brain blinded by partisanship.

However, he’s right that America is in deep trouble. Its democracy is endangered — by people like him. Returning Trump to power would be its destruction

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Hanson’s column was reprinted by the Albany Times-Union, perhaps mindful of right-wing bias accusations. But freedom of speech does not include the right to an audience. Press efforts like this to appear even-handed help spread and legitimate Trumpist propaganda. Thus mainstream media is accomplice to its own destruction, an ultimate Trump goal. The T-U should not have run Hanson’s atrocious piece.