The Great Divide

Victor Davis Hanson (author of the absolutely brilliant guide to Western military history Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power) has a very insightful essay in National Review on how upper classes are more likely to criticize our war in Afghanistan. Hanson makes a very good point here, it’s the Hillary Clintons and the Richard Geres of the US that are the ones most likely to criticize the war. At the same time, most of the working-class are strongly in favor of military action. The intelligentsia of American society seem to be unwilling, according to Hanson, to make the kind of sacrifices necessary to defend freedom. It is the working classes that see what Hannah Arendt called the "banal face of evil" every day – they harbor no illusions about what is ahead for our nation. It is only the upper class nomenklatura who have the luxury of seeing the world in the way Hanson describes:

Our new smug aristocrats are convinced that the Taliban and bin Laden are akin to an angry news producer, a supercilious dean, or perhaps a high school vice-principal run amok ? pushy types who can be reasoned with or flattered, or, barring that, paid off, out-argued, petitioned, or ignored. Theirs is the arrogance of the Enlightenment, fueled by the ease of American materialism, which alike suggest that their nation is too good, too sophisticated, too wealthy, and too modern ever to stoop to fight in the gutter with 13th-century terrorists over a mere 6,000 dead.

As I make this entry, a group of predominently upper-class "student activists" are marching in several cities in support of what they term "social justice" – namely, an end to American action in Afghanistan. Looking at the people who are organizing and support these marches, Hanson seems to have hit the nail on the head. They are the usual mix of the radical left – disenchanted students who wish to be part of something greater than their own nihilism, radical Communists who ignore the fact that their own ideology has the blood of 30 million Ukrainians and countless other dissenters on its hands, and various "minority groups" that see oppression at every turn. This is the face of a group of people whose worldview is shaped not by the gritty reality of tough decisions and shattered dreams, but by a sense of moral superiority above the rabble of everyday life. They are mainly white, upper class, private college students who have lived lives of realitively sheltered privilege.

The only thing they can say is no to war. If not war, then what? What criteria will bring about their ideal of "social justice"? Looking at the emmissary for the former King of Afghanistan, Abdul Taq, it would seem as though the Taliban isn’t about to negotiate anything. While these pampered protestors march, the Afghani people are being systematically brutalized by an oppressive regime. Force isn’t the best option, it is the only option.

Why is it that these students fail to understand or choose to ignore these facts? Clearly, these people aren’t ignorant, rather they pride themselves on the cosmopolitan nature. They have access to the media more than any other group, they have the freedom to research and understand the situation, yet they stubbornly assume that the U.S. is in the wrong. It is a strange pathology, and one that defies all logic.

While the upper-crust engages in navel-gazing and self-doubt, the policemen, firefighters, welders, and workers of America go about their daily lives understanding full well the price of freedom. They don’t have the luxury of believing in some abstract sense of "social justice", they understand that life isn’t easy, and that sometime you have to roll up your sleeves and make things right yourself. They don’t have time to travel around and protest things, they have the obligation of keeping this nation safe and stable for those that do. In the end, they are the ones who have proven themselves smarter and more astute than a large part of our intellectual class.