THE MEANING AND PURPOSE OF HANSON.

One of Victor Davis Hanson's readers asks "whether the ancient world offered any parallels in our modern war on jihadism?" Those of you familiar with Hanson's ouvre will understand that this is a bit like asking a French chef whether you should put butter in things, or asking Wynton Marsalis whether Louis Armstrong was important to jazz, or asking Jonah Goldberg whether he thinks blatant nepotism among political elites is appropriate. Not only will the answer be an emphatic yes, but it gets to the entire reason why he is here.

Hanson's career as a pundit is dedicated to the proposition that there is no event in history that cannot be sculpted into a justification for the political preferences of Victor Davis Hanson (Bob Bateman had a great series in which he dismantled Hanson's priapic puffery like a Lego battleship). True to form, in response to his reader's question, Vic reels off a bunch of names and battles that I'm sure he's hoping you don't know and thus won't understand how embarrassingly weak his historical comparisons are. Then he sums up:

In other words, nothing we have encountered since 9/11 is new. All our current challenges have parallels, and they have been faced—and overcome—by past conventional Western leaders. Classical literature reminds us how and why. Human nature is constant, only its technological manifestations change. For every bin Laden there was an Arminus, for every Ahmadinejad there was a Jugurtha, for every David Petraeus there was a successful Sertorius in Spain or Caesar in Pontus.

I suppose we could also say that for every Caesar, there was a Hulagu, or for every Patton there was a Saladin, but that wouldn't suit Hanson's purpose, which is to present history as one long war between us and the barbarians, a parade of brave Western leaders using cunning and innovation to hold off successive waves of savage Orientals, of which radical Islamism is only the latest. Ignoring the fact that Islamic civilization drew upon, was influence by, and preserved the knowledge, arts, philosophy, and learning of antiquity before sharing them with "barbaric" Europe, Hanson simply edits those centuries out in order to present an unbroken line from the Greeks through the Romans to "the West" and prop up a hoary old "clash of civilizations" thesis.

--Matthew Duss

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