Laudator Temporis Acti
(one who praises past times)
By: Victor Davis Hanson
April 8, 2021
History is not the melodrama of faceless collectives, but a tragedy of complexities. We should not go quietly into the night and allow a current affluent, leisured, and pampered generation to hijack the past, and damn it to perdition.
Given the present’s own meager achievements, it has not earned the right to rename, cancel, and Trotskyize those of the past who won Gettysburg, or built the Hoover dam, or produced a Liberty ship every week (a “racist” society who named some of those ships the “SS Harriet Tubman”, the “SS Marian Anderson” and the “SS Booker T. Washington”.)
Today’s Pentagon (still the world largest office building, completed in just 16 wartime months) is not that of the likes of Leahy, Marshall, Arnold, or King in 1943-5.
Today’s undergraduates would have real trouble with the 1965 curriculum of Harvard and Stanford.
I doubt our geniuses could design—or rather would be allowed to design—and build our equivalent of a B-29 in three years. NASA of the 1960s and 1970s was not like that of the 21st-Century.
Hollywood’s comic book movies are not the Wizard of Oz, much less The Best Years of Our Lives, or How Green Was My Valley. Al Sharpton is no Bayard Ruskin, just as Ta-Nehisi Coates is no Ralph Ellison, and Colin Kaepernick is no Jim Brown.
I don’t think the 21st century has produced a group of novelists comparable to contemporaries like Faulkner, Fitzgerald , Hemingway, Wolfe, or Steinbeck.
What is needed in these bleak times is a little humility, from a generation who will not necessarily age well and whose record will not be remembered by those to come as particular worthy of respect.