Barbarians Inside the (California) Gates

You won’t see many links to the writings of neocon classicist Victor Davis Hanson on this blog, but he has written some worthwhile books and produces some worthwhile cultural commentary. His recent article “A Vandalized Valley” on the increasing lawlessness in rural California is definitely worth a read and should help to sober up anyone who still denies that our culture is in serious trouble.

The chronicling of abuses and outrages is staggering. Here are a few examples:

  1. A single farmhouse burgled nine times
  2. Regular refuse dumping on people’s property (where’s the environmental lobby when you need it?)
  3. Copper and iron stripped from everywhere and everything (with collateral damage totaling several times the value of the stolen materials)
  4. Clunkers wrecked on local farmers’ cropland and then abandoned (multiple times)

The list goes on. It really is amazing. “In short, all the stuff of civilization — municipal buildings, education, religion, transportation, recreation — seems under assault in the last year by the contemporary forces of barbarism.”

One would think that local law enforcement would step up patrols and punish the savages responsible, right? Au contraire. Hanson writes that the cops have little enthusiasm for catching these people. Those that do get caught keep getting released because the local jails are overcrowded.

Hanson goes on:

Indeed, farmers out here are beginning to feel targeted, not protected, by law enforcement. In the new pay-as-you-go state, shrouded in politically correct bureaucratese, Californians have developed a keen sense of cynicism. The scores of Highway Patrol cars that now dot our freeways are looking for the middle class — the minor, income-producing infractions of the generally law-abiding — inasmuch as in comparison the felonies of the underclass are lose–lose propositions.

If I were to use a cellphone while driving and get caught, the state might make an easy $170 for five minutes’ work. If the same officer were to arrest the dumper who threw a dishwasher or refrigerator into the local pond among the fish and ducks, the arrest and detention would be costly and ultimately fruitless, providing neither revenue from a non-paying suspect nor deterrence against future environmental sacrilege. We need middle-class misdemeanors to pay for the felonies of the underclass.

This is a perfect example of what the late Sam Francis called “anarcho-tyranny.” The authorities refuse to control the criminal element (the “anarcho”) and instead focus their efforts on the easier targets: law-abiding citizens (the “tyranny”).

Hanson’s comparison of his own situation to that of a citizen of the Roman Empire in the fifth century is apt. I hope he has a gun permit and the wherewithal to use one if and when the barbarians at his gates get violent.

About Dr. J

I am Professor of Humanities at Faulkner University, where I chair the Department of Humanities and direct online M.A. and Ph.D. programs based on the Great Books of Western Civilization. I am also Associate Editor of the Journal of Faith and the Academy and a member of the faculty at Liberty Classroom.
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