Victor Davis Hanson

Due to a "grassroots effort" to garner thousands of petition signatures, the city of San Francisco will have on the November ballot a measure to change the name of one of its water "pollution control plants" to the "George W. Bush Sewage Plant." What a national trend that would be! Should red states follow that pettiness and rename their own sewers and dumps after John Kerry or Bill Clinton?

We still suffer from the same 1960s juvenile petulance when the powers that be did not immediately fall in line as protestors demanded.

Now the spirit of that age permeates Congress, whose members won't drill oil off our coasts or the continental shelf, or in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Yet in infantile fashion, they rant about "Big Oil's" high gas prices. So, Congress instead threatens to sue OPEC to be fairer and to pump more oil. And we beg the Saudis to drill and pump more in their waters so we don't have to in ours.

Even in the much-poorer 1960s, it was hard to take seriously the idea of loud middle-class suburban kids as street revolutionaries, given the fact that America was the richest and freest society in history. And it's even harder now when many of them are rich seniors and the country itself is far wealthier.

So when a member of the aging baby-boom generation finger-points at us that drilling oil is the moral equivalent of invading Iraq, or that America has become two nations (the haves and have-nots), we can often expect to discover that the self-righteous sermonizer is a hypocrite. Green Al Gore uses a lot more energy than the average American. Populist John Edwards lives in a huge mansion.

By now, we've grown accustomed to elites railing about America's pathologies from the comfort of their own privilege -- along with the usual ‘60s-style apologies that their own lives don't need to match their rhetoric, and that we should just concentrate on their near-divine messages. In their defense, they can't help it -- it's still a '60s thing.


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.

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