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above: Victor Davis Hanson (image: Basic Books)

Society & Culture

The Life and Times of Victor Davis Hanson

In reading through the works of popular historian Victor Davis Hanson, I was reminded of a parody in an episode of The Simpsons. Bart and Homer watch a clip of Rainier Wolfcastle—the show’s Arnold Schwarzenegger-esque action hero—fly a UNICEF cargo plane full of pennies to impoverished children. A villainous cadre calling themselves the “CommieNazis” chase Wolfcastle in their black jets adorned with hammers, sickles, and swastikas. Wolfcastle jumps onto the jet of the CommieNazi leader, breaks through the glass of the cockpit, and snaps the neck of the monocle-clad villain. 

1120-COURTHISTORIAN-2The scene is a parody of innumerable American action films, which raise up reactionary straw men like these to be knocked down by the heroes of the American neoliberal world order. On a deeper level, the absurdity of this scene points to a fatal flaw of post-WWII American popular culture. The reactionary baddies we are presented with in American cultural products are not always Commies or Nazis—usually these caricatures are Germans, often they are Russians or Arab Muslims, sometimes they are British, and sometimes they are backward Southerners. But they always play the role of the villains standing against the Anglo-American...

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