A New Intellectual Hero?

“But that is the point: Focus on the irrelevant misdemeanor as therapy for ignoring the existential felony.”

“Walking in San Francisco today reminds me of visiting Old Cairo in 1973, although the latter lacked the needles and feces of the former.”

Victor Davis Hanson


I just read another brilliant article by Victor Davis Hanson. One might define me as a die-hard conservative reading the writings of the a popular conservative professor at Stanford. Hanson has become a media personality and an increasing good go-to guy for Fox when it needs to tap into the intellectual consciousness of the new Conservative & Republican mind set.

In many ways, Hanson is rising as the leading intellectual expressing new types of political ideas today. But his life is not that straight trajectory of some but rather a rather raggedly pattern of continual success in pursuing different ideas during his life. The result seems to be someone so different from the usual talking head intellectual on TV. VD Hanson’s ideas are made not from the domination of one throughout his life but for the ideas and passion that has won out over battling the others over the years.

It’s that bold yet rare personality today based on fusing together various pieces over the many ups and downs of one’s life. All the places one has been. The people they have known and loved.

Victor Davis Hanson is one of these rare types of personalities, rare types of people. In the context of his writing and appearances on media, few can express themselves so directly and clearly. But Hanson is far from the straight academic some might peg him for. Academic or not, his appearance on TV have somewhat the reassurance of a wise old relative having a heart-to-heart talk with us. A combination Walter Cronkite and the lingering on of the memory and need for another Charles Krauthammer in many today. Victor Davis Hanson seems to fill some empty spot in modern culture.

One that is different from others and one that brings others together through the clear and direct writing and appearances on media. Much of this directness comes from a person who grew up on a farm. There is nothing to quit compete with this experience. Even in today’s America.

Growing up on a farm in the central valley of California, he was always close to the soil outside the great city of San Francisco to the NW and Los Angeles to the SW of the family farm. The farm was almost half-way between the two cities. Hanson, a Protestant of Swedish and Welsh descent, grew up on his family’s raisin farm outside Selman, California in the San Joaquin Valley and has worked there most of his life.

His mother, Pauline Davis Hanson, was a lawyer and a California superior court and state appeals court justice. His father was a farmer, educator and junior college administrator. Along with his older brother Nels, a writer, and fraternal twin Alfred, a farmer and biologist, Hanson attended public schools and graduated from Selma High School. He received his B.A. with highest honors in classics and general college honors, Cowell College, from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1975 and his Ph. D in Classics from Stanford University in 1980. He won the Raphael Demos scholarship at the College Year in Athens (1973–74) and was a regular member of the American School of Classical Studies, Athens, 1978-79.

In 1991, Hanson was awarded American Philological Excellence in Teaching Award, given annually to the nation’s top undergraduate teachers of Greek and Latin. He was named distinguished alumnus of the year for 2006 at University of California, Santa Cruz. He has been a visiting professor of classics at Stanford University (1991–92), a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford (1992-93). He received an Alexander Onassis traveling fellowship to Greece in 1999 as well as a Nimitz Fellow at UC Berkeley (2006). He held the visiting Shifrin Chair of Military History at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis (2002-03) and often the William Simon visiting professorship at the School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University (2009-15). In 2015 he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the graduate school at Pepperdine. He gave the Wriston Lecture in 2004 for the Manhattan Institute. He has been a board member of the Bradley Foundation since 2015 and served on the HF Guggenheim Foundation board for over a decade. He is now a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford and professor emeritus at California State, Fresno where he began teaching in 1984. After creating the classical studies program at that institution.

And on and so on. The above is only part of the story of Victor Davis Hanson.

Hoover Institute / Stanford

I need to thank my brother Bill for informing me of the Victor Davis Hanson. Bill met him on a cruise and invited us up to Michigan where he was speaking at a small liberal arts college. My wife and I were on our way to the college to meet him but the entire major north-South Interstate in Ohio was totally shut-down for some reason. I had never seen anything like it. We turned off and got on the free-moving traffic going south on the Interstate.

So, though I have yet to meet him, I certainly am a follower and believer of his assessments of our modern world. This is what his blogs, podcasts and media appearances really are: his assessments of what is happening, his perspective on all of this. His voice, it seems to me, is the voice for a new type of political idea in America. One that has such a foothold in the farming philosophy of the nation. With Victor Davis Hanson, a brilliant scholar matched with the wisdom and honesty of a farm life. The two had seldom ever been connected up with each other.

What is this voice exactly?

The same thing I believe in more than anything right now. That symbol of Freedom.

This is what VD Hanson really is. A voice for many whose allegiance is to Freedom more than anything else. Why can’t there be a Freedom Party?

More than anything, the voice of the symbol and idea of Freedom in culture. Not a Freedom housed under the old Republican Party. Or, for that matter, the Freedom associated so much with Hollywood. Freedom always goes both ways it seems.

But carrying the idea of Freedom forward. The symbol and feeling of Freedom. Carrying this forward, sharing it with others. One could only truly share it if they themselves felt it. This was the key. The promotion of a feeling rather than an ideology.

* * *

Judge for yourself about Hanson in the below link to “The Thin Veneer of American Civilization” from the August 11, 2020 in the conservative National Review. Although in the National Review, the article goes so far beyond the bounds of any political party. For me, it puts things into a larger perspective. But that is the point. Something that the controllers of culture and all of us are so aware of: entice us into focusing on the irrelevant misdemeanor as therapy for ignoring the existential felony. As Hanson says in his article below.

The beliefs and philosophy of Victor Davis Hanson is an example a life forged from the freedom of exploration. It is a quality much different from another political label. For example, there is Hanson’s statement that the focus today is on the “irrelevant misdemeanor as therapy for ignoring the existential felony.” This is less the rantings of a political ideologue and more the observation of an astute cultural critic. It is a philosophy of life fused from the common sense and values of the farm with the world of history and scholarship.

Read Victor Davis Hanson’s “The Thin Veneer of American Civilzation.”






Leave a Reply