Victor Davis Hanson

Juan Williams was just fired from NPR. His sin? He confessed to occasional anxiety when Muslims board airplanes, and then went on to explain why stereotyping is wrong.

The fate of Williams reminds us that Americans have developed two personas -- one public and politically correct, the other private. Mix the two and big trouble ensues.

Here are some reminders about what to shut up about.

Don't discuss the deficit. Instead, call borrowing "stimulus." Trillions are not much different from billions. Debt can be paid back with more borrowing and someone else's higher taxes. Ignore the lessons of Greece and California. To appear noble, call for more unemployment benefits, free medical care and more entitlements. To sound cruel, talk about borrowing to pay for them.

Keep silent about Social Security and Medicare. If the system is insolvent, it cannot be because we are living longer, retiring earlier, often taking out more than we paid into the pot, abusing disability provisions, or facing an aging and soon-to-be-shrinking population. Instead, rail at fat cats who need to pay more payroll taxes, and at wasteful programs like defense that can be cut to ensure more for the elderly and needy. The checks will always come in time, and "they" will always pay for them.

Most Americans choose to be called "cowards" by Attorney General Eric Holder rather than accept his invitation to talk about race on his terms. The NAACP has accused the Tea Party of racist views. The anger over high taxes, debt and big government warrants more concern among the Beltway's black leadership than exploring the causes of inordinately high incidence of crime, incarceration and one-parent homes, and low high school graduation rates. Whatever one's private views, groupspeak requires that answers are found outside, not inside, the black community -- and demand more programs and more federal money.

Closing the border is a taboo subject. Also taboo is the phrase "illegal alien." Speak instead about the need for social justice, not the enforcement of mere laws. Illegal aliens broke no real law when enticed northward by greedy employers. That is why the secretary of labor released a video calling for workers to report employer abuses -- whether the workers are "documented or not." Passing laws to subvert federal immigration laws, such as "sanctuary city" legislation, is commendable. Passing laws to enforce federal immigration statutes earns a lawsuit, and condemnation by the president of Mexico from the White House lawn. Ask Arizona.


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.