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Let Down at the Top


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Our Baby Boomer elites, mired in excess and safe in their enclaves, have overseen the decay of our core cultural institutions.

Victor Davis Hanson

November 14, 2017


Since the Trojan War, generations have always trashed their own age in comparison to ages past. The idea of fated decadence and decline was a specialty of 19th-century German philosophy.

So we have to be careful in calibrating generations, especially when our own has reached a level of technology and science never before dreamed of (and it is not a given that material or ethical progress is always linear).

Nonetheless, the so-called Baby Boomers have a lot to account for — given the sorry state of entertainment, sports, the media, and universities.



America thought it could live with that — even at the price of watering down the curricula with -studies activist courses — because free speech was for everyone, at least in theory. But tenured radical professors eventually became sixty-something administrative bureaucrats and are now being devoured by the very radical offspring they have sired. We lament political correctness and Stalinism on campuses, but the real crime is the ignorance that empowers it.

* The unspoken fuel that drives so many protests on campus is the self-awareness that so many students simply cannot do traditional college work and desire weaker courses, personal exemptions, and time off. A sense of student inferiority naturally leads to demands for everything but a more comprehensive education. The result of politicizing mediocrity is the classic toxicity of youthful ignorance and arrogance. Twenty-somethings brag about tearing down the statue of Robert E. Lee without a clue what Gettysburg was. Disrupting a conservative lecturer on campus is the current generation’s version of cramming phone booths and swallowing goldfish.





It is hard to destroy the NFL or to discredit a liberal-arts degree from Yale, or to turn NBC or CNN into a bastard of Pravda or to make the Hollywood of John Ford, Frank Capra, and Alfred Hitchcock into that of George Clooney. But we managed it — and more still to come before we are through.




* Another prophet of affirmative action

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It is hard to criticize this most excellent essay, written even better than usual from VDH.  And he does qualify his remarks by focusing on Baby Boomer elites, but I would only say that of course there are many Baby Boomers who do not fall into this description of the Baby Boomer generation, VDH himself being among them. 

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