Historian: The Hypocritical Statue Obsession of a ‘Smug Generation’

Victor Davis Hanson slams progressives who 'pick and choose their type of outrage for political purposes'

by Kathryn Blackhurst | Updated 16 Aug 2017 at 12:21 PM

Military historian and political columnist Victor Davis Hanson said the “moral smugness” of this current generation allows it to “pick and choose their type of outrage for political purposes,” all the while adhering to a “double standard,” during an interview Wednesday on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”

In the aftermath of Saturday’s violent Charlottesville rally, Hanson, a Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and professor of classics emeritus at California State University, Fresno, pointed to the progressive liberal protesters increasingly clamoring for the removal of statues and monuments honoring Confederate soldiers and leaders. In Durham, North Carolina, a group of protesters toppled a Confederate statue Monday night, while other cities are calling for the removal of such statues.

"This generation has decided that it's the most moral and ethical in history and has the right to go back and pick winners and losers," Hanson said. "I think it's a progressive project in which they pick and choose their type of outrage for political purposes in the present."

The problem, however, is that these protesters and activists don't feel the need to apply the same filters and standards to themselves, he argued. When far-left Antifa activists or Black Lives Matter protesters repeatedly took to the streets calling for retaliation against police officers following high-profile shooting deaths of African-Americans, Hanson noted that such standards weren't applied to these groups.

"They all have this moral smugness, but it's not evenly applied and it doesn't apply to themselves," Hanson said. "This smug generation feels that human nature works like an app on their phone that has to be perfect. But I don't think that people who march in the street and say, 'Pigs in a blanket, fry 'em,' are the moral adjudicators of anything. And yet they think they are."

Hanson noted that many several prominent Confederate leaders did not personally support or condone slavery at the time of the Civil War, and yet because they fought for the South, this current generation views all Confederates as "100 percent bad."

"In other words, we give no room or no allowances that people are human and that they make mistakes in history's tragedy," he said. "It's not melodrama where we go back and judge people as a hundred percent good or a hundred percent bad. And yet that's what we're doing."

Hanson noted that the Left doesn't slime the memory of other icons and heroes because of imperfections in their life.

"Are we going to say that we can't honor Martin Luther King because he was known to be a little bit rough with women? Is that a sin that cancels out all the good that he did?" he asked.

"[The Left doesn't] have political power … but they, in recompense, they really exaggerate cultural influence," Hanson said, noting that the Left holds universities, the media, and Hollywood captive and "use that to counteract their political impotence."

"And they're very successful at it because they either force conservatives to apologize or to virtue-signal among one another who's the more moral or ethical or ready to concede a point," he added.

LifeZette Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham brought up her sparring match Tuesday night with syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer on Fox News' "Special Report," in which the two clashed over President Donald Trump's Tuesday press conference.

The president had doubled down on his Saturday comments in which he blamed "many sides" for the violence in Charlottesville. On Monday, Trump specifically condemned "white supremacists" and "neo-Nazis." On Tuesday, he blamed both the Alt-Left and the Alt-Right for contributing to the violence.

Krauthammer dubbed Trump's Tuesday press conference "a moral disgrace," saying that Trump "reverted back to Saturday" and undermined his strong Monday statement because it wasn't really "in his heart."

Hanson said Krauthammer was applying a certain double standard to Trump.

"I agree that [Trump] should have said it earlier. But the fact is, he did say it, and I don't think it was because it wasn't in his heart," he responded. "I do think he's not a racist by any means. And I don't understand Charles Krauthammer, because after the policemen were killed by a racist sniper, people asked Barack Obama to condemn the type of movement that had led to that, the Black Lives Matter. And he said the problem was guns."

"And in Fort Hood, that person yelled 'Allahu Akbar' as he killed and mowed down and butchered 13 people. And Obama said, 'Let's not rush to judgment,'" Hanson added. "If Trump had said, rather than blaming both sides for the cycle of violence, 'Let's not rush to judgment,' people would have been outraged."

Hanson advised both the Never-Trumpers on the Right and the Never-Trumpers on the Left to "step back and see that people, for a variety of reasons, have a deep antipathy for Donald Trump, and that clouds their empirical judgment."

"A lot of people just can't get over that fact. And then they find out that the more that they automatically slander and smear Trump, the more that they feel they accrue virtue and acknowledgment, influence," Hanson said. "I think they're creating a landscape in which we all want to jump and damn Trump because they feel that, either career-wise or moral-wise or I don't know what-wise, but it makes us feel good. But we don't look at it empirically."

Hanson also jabbed Krauthammer, saying that the panelist "could have reminded people" that "Barack Obama invited a rapper to the White House [Kendrick Lamar], whose album that week came out with a dead white judge with his eyes x'd out with African-American rappers toasting his demise on the White House lawn."

"And no one said, 'Should the president of the United States be condoning or promoting a rapper who celebrates the murder of a judge?' And that was a racist thing, that album was abjectly racist," he said.

"But a lot of kids, our new generation, they look at that and they think, 'Wow, there's a double standard.' And nobody wants to say that because if you say that, then all of a sudden everything in your career, everything in your life, everything in your atmospherics — you pay a price for that," Hanson concluded. "And that is how brilliantly the Left has done."

(photo credit, homepage image: Anarkman, Wikimedia; photo credit, article image: SchuminWeb, Wikimedia)

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