Hanson: How the virus made deplorables adorable and punctured dystopian balloons

by WorldTribune Staff, April 29, 2020

Thucydides said: “War is a violent teacher.” So is the coronavirus, says historian and columnist Victor Davis Hanson.

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“Before this virus has passed, those of the New York Symphony, like the defeated Redcoats at proverbial Yorktown, will be playing the real ‘The World Turned Upside Down:

And then strange motions will abound.
Yet let’s be content, and the times lament,
you see the world turn’d upside down.

“Before the virus, apparently we were prepping for our brave new progressive, centrally planned dystopia,” Hanson wrote for American Greatness on April 26.

During President Barack Obama’s years, “government agencies had begun to chart a new inclusive future for hoi polloi Americans. We were lectured frequently that the Obama arc of the moral universe was long, but it always bent toward his sense of justice. Translated that meant, like it or not, we Americans had a preordained moral rendezvous with a progressive destiny,” Hanson wrote.

“Suburban lifestyles, yards, grass, rural living, and commute driving were to be phased out. High rises, government run-buses, and high-speed rail were in: more people in less space, with less energy consumed, meant less trouble. Granny was better off in a green rest home, not the back bedroom,” Hanson wrote.

“Instead of the backyard barbeque and a lawn, apartment dwellers would enjoy shared green belts around their communal towers— albeit not as large as the Martha’s Vineyard estate of Barack Obama or the palazzo of Nancy Pelosi.”

Being “woke” meant “fathoming how unmet personal expectations ought always to be attributed to the fault of someone else — and, even worse, that ‘someone else’ might be dead or alive. The Squad just told us so. Now Chairman Xi agrees,” Hanson wrote.

“Globalization was to be seen as some sort of ultimate talent meter that finally told us not only who was talented but, more important, who was worthy. The dumb un-globalized losers could not figure out how to code, or lacked a communications major or international relations degree, or had not spent a semester abroad in China, or did not understand global investment. They clung to some ancient shibboleth— ‘Made in America’ — as if producing stuff here really mattered.

“So the deplorables and Lysol drinkers more or less deserved the hollowed-out manufacturing landscape, closed assembly plants, and industrial wasteland of the nation’s interior that anachronistically and foolishly had bet that muscular labor still had a place in the postmodern world,” Hanson wrote.

“In the minds of the new citizens of the world, the ossified working classes, when they were not smelling up Walmart or hiding their missing teeth with corny smiles, were written off as a basket full of deplorables and irredeemables, or the dregs of the earth, or the clingers who always retreat to their guns and religion.”

Hanson continued: “After all, who could ever imagine a time when you might need a constitutionally protected gun? Even if one could ever conceive of the unlikely act of letting prisoners out en masse, they were likely to return to productive lives, proving they never belonged in jail in the first place.

“And we were assured by experts and science that the World Health Organization would warn us in plenty of time if a dangerous flu-like bug popped up 7,000 miles away.

“Inventories were old and in the way. Just-in-time supply chains needed just enough Chinese products to arrive the day before they were sold out in stores. Who wished to pay for useless stuff stacked sitting on shelves for an excruciating 72 hours?

“The idea that the United States might wish to be self-sufficient in pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and rare earth minerals was written off as an update of Bonaparte’s failed continental system.”

“For the global Right, the market would adjudicate borders (when entry-level wages dropped below sustenance level, immigrants would wisely stay home).

“For the Left the greater the number of the “Other” who arrived illegally, and the poorer they were, the more fodder they’d have for flipping those bad-people red states into good-people blue states.

“Slick, shiny modern living magazines advertised the latest stone counters, metal refrigerators, and wood floors. Today’s in-brands and tastes became, in a blink, tomorrow’s proof of mundanity. Rarely did our elite wonder, much less care, from where the stone, the ores, and the timber came—much less who were the miners, the smelters, and the ax-men who harvested the stuff of their kitchens.”

Then came the coronavirus.

“Panic ensued. Former madness was declared genius. More were needed in overalls, fewer in yoga pants. A Chevy van was preferable to a year’s pass on the metro. A first-class ticket to Milan was nothing but a trip to nowhere,” Hanson wrote.

“Roomy yards were again correct, nice elevators not so much. The bigger and more ‘mine’ the car, the better to get away from ‘them’ and ‘theirs’ in the subway. Driving wasn’t all that bad; flying apparently was. The quaint country cabin three hours from Manhattan was now a brilliant last redoubt. But living in Utah was even cooler than in Brooklyn Heights.

“For some reason no one wished to vacation in Tuscany or see the Great Wall; all dreamed of an isolated lake at 7,000 feet in the Rockies, or the Sierras.

“Vegas odds-makers, independent stock junkies, and the expert toilet-paper finder were deemed savvier than Ph.D. modelers from the Imperial College and the University of Washington. When the former’s numbers were screwed up, they at least paid in real-time and money, when the latter’s did, they sighed and screwed up again.

“Toilet paper became bitcoins, hand sanitizer more valuable than Chanel.”

Hanson continued: “The ‘I wouldn’t want to be him’ slob with a big belly and big arms was abruptly needed to drive all night to get arugula and asparagus in Whole Foods by morning — and did.

“Travel bans, the ‘wall,’ and passport control were OK. Not so politically correct caravans of thousands of foreigners crashing through decrepit wire border fencing, nor those recently inaugurated direct flights from Wuhan. Take-out from McDonald’s, grease and all, was wiser and safer than a choice reservation at Le Coucou.

“Our best and brightest policymakers now said it would have been nice to trust China less, and Western Pennsylvania more. Just having Augmentin seemed wiser than did the chance of paying less for it.”

Hanson concluded: “There likely won’t be much of a ‘new normal.’ Because when all the data is in, all the panic ended, the antivirals appearing, all the vaccinations working, the herd immunity growing, and the real lethality rate dropping, most of us, despite the tough barroom talk of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the dreams of governors Andrew Cuomo and Gavin Newsom, will go back to business as normal.

“Yet we should hope not quite normal, either.

“For a brief season in time, we glimpsed from the awful epidemic what was wheat and what was chaff, what was mahogany beneath and what a scrapped thin veneer above, who were the V8s and who the mere gaudy, tail fins — and how America ultimately got by and how it almost didn’t.”

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