Who Is Victor Davis Hanson?
ictor Davis Hanson says he lives in the nineteenth century—a fact that can get him into some trouble.
“Let me give you an example,” he says.
Hanson was in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart one day when he saw a young woman struggling to move a big screen television into her Honda. When he went over to help her, he noticed that she was holding an EBT card, a government-issued debit card for cash and food stamps.
Hanson told her, “You shouldn’t be using the food card to buy the big screen TV.” She told him to mind his own business. Despite her anger, Hanson persisted: “If you didn’t do that, you would more be self-reliant.”
Reflecting on that experience, he says, “In the nineteenth century, this would never have happened—the government giving you an EBT card to subsidize a lifestyle beyond necessities.”
Hanson may live in the nineteenth century, a time when duty and honor were moral imperatives, but he has made his academic career studying the ancient past. The lessons of Fourth Century BC Greece and Fifth Century AD Rome—civilizations and their falls due to affluence, leisure, and poor political leadership—are never far from the mind of this classicist and military historian.
That’s especially true when he thinks about Greece, the sick man of Europe today. “What’s happening in Greece is fascinating. The Greeks started rioting because they couldn’t borrow more money from Germany to fund their incredible public payrolls, lavish pensions, and other goodies.” The Greeks, Hanson argues, were essentially acting like spoiled children; they should have been writing thank you cards to their fiscally prudent northern neighbors who facilitated their EU entry, but they instead took to the streets in violent protest, invoking images of the Germans as Nazis.