That, according to Victor Davis Hanson, is the contemporary version of “the good life.” From a man who compulsively reminds anyone in earshot that “for 20 years I taught classics,” defining “the good life” as the absence of suffering is surprising. I always thought it had something to do with one of those Greek words Hanson loves so much—but I only studied classics for a couple semesters as an undergraduate and am probably misremembering. That said, Hanson’s certainly correct about one thing: no one suffers quite as poignantly as white people. It’s no coincidence that his first complaint about people who complain about class is:
Meanwhile we see the “poor” near rioting over buying the first few pairs of Michael Jordan $200 sneakers[.]
His argument is entirely about class. Consider the impoverished people at one of those near-riots:
Not a single one of them looks to be a starving Norwegian. That’s because Hanson is talking about class here:
In the car today, I heard the usual con ads on the radio. Got problems with the IRS? No problem, we can renegotiate that away. Too much credit card borrowing? No problem, we can settle it at half what you owe … Lately I heard ads from the Department of Agriculture, reminding me that if I belong to some such minority group, I can sue if I felt I was discriminated against.
My point again is not to object to magnanimity, but to object mightily to those who slander a system that is more egalitarian and generous than any in civilization’s history. Race-based quotas help as well.
What do they help? They help poor people acquire what Hanson calls “the simulacra of equality.” Here’s the actual example he uses to “prove” that the simulacra of equality is a good thing:
I also say simulacra because few in Selma vacation in Tuscany. But sitting in front of a big-screen TV, with some Italian music on, while watching Rick Steves (with TV sound off) touring Florence seems not all that different from the 28-hour hassle of flying to rural Italy. The former is free; the latter “rich” people alone afford.
Sitting in front of a television isn’t all that different from going to Italy? The mind reels. Hanson’s new definition of “the good life” entails not starving and not having to deal with the hassle of flying overseas. So if you see someone in expensive sneakers who’s neither starving nor vacationing overseas and you still think that class exists in America, you’re probably one of those people trying to “get tenure by writing obscure, clever little essays that few read on insidious class differences.”
And if you’re one of those people, your mother’s most likely a Mexican.