Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Defending Ed Sullivan

Spot didn't really notice this kerfluffle until he read Mr. Sponge's post No Habla Jibber-Jabber. As you will see, someone - who is painfully enough under-employed to have the time to read a transcript of Hugh Hewitt's electro-magnetic pearl clutching - says that Mr. Sponge completely misrepresents what Victor Davis Hanson opined to Hugh. Completely.

You'll have to judge for yourself, boys and girls. But this is the man whose honor is being defended:

Let us stipulate straightaway: Victor Davis Hanson is the worst historian since Parson Weems [link by Spot]. To picture anything remotely as bad as his pseudo-historical novels and propaganda tracts, one would have to imagine an account of the fiscal policies of the Bush administration authored by Paris Hilton. [Spot: actually that isn't so hard to imagine]

Mr. Hanson, Cal State Fresno's contribution to human letters, is the favorite historian of the administration, the Naval War College, and other groves of disinterested research. His academic niche is to drag the Peloponnesian War into every contemporary foreign policy controversy and thereby justify whatever course of action our magistrates have taken. One suspects that if the neo-cons at the American Enterprise Institute were suddenly seized by the notion to invade Patagonia, Mr. Hanson would be quoting Pericles in support.

Once we strip away all the classical Greek fustian, it becomes clear that the name of his game is to take every erroneous conventional wisdom, cliche, faulty generalization, and common-man imbecility, and elevate them to a catechism. In this process, he showcases a technique beloved of pseudo-conservatives stuck at the Sean Hannity level of debate: he swallows whatever quasi-historical balderdash serves the interest of those in power, announces it with an air of surprised discovery, and then congratulates himself on his boldness in telling truth to power.

And here's clip from one of Vic's books, No Man is a Slave:

Melon woke. He was off the battlefield. Four Theban hoplites had carried the two wounded on biers up to Skopê, among the tamarisks and scrub oak of the lookout mountain, high above the battlefield. Yes, he was now high above the killing. On the crest, in a strong Etesian breeze, they put down Melon near his general, on thick fleece with felt covers. He was growing cold even in this Dog-star heat.

For just a moment he was clear [what? like broth?] again. The Thespian had enough strength to raise his head. Look, look down at the chaos far below, around the great walled city of the Mantineians. The Thebans were filing out the valley. The defeated Spartans did the same. So all were chanting "Antikrates," chanting as they marched behind their killer out through the other vale.

Then Melon thought he heard music. At least something like a Boiotian single piper, likewise far off in the distance, maybe even from the other side of the hill. He could hear from below still the music, and a goat song of Thisbe at that, its melody straining its way up the hill, just to him.

Victor Davis Hanson is the Ed Sullivan of history: a producer of sideshows and a censor of lyrics. Misrepresenting Victor Davis Hanson is impossible: he is merely an Etesian breeze.

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