Victor Davis Hanson, classicist.

For obvious reasons there aren’t many speeches around on the internet at the moment, which is why I have been pondering on spreading the terms of reference of this blog, but meanwhile I did happen upon an interesting recent talk by a man who has been featured here before, almost exactly a year ago – Victor David Hanson.

I watched this largely for self-indulgence. I find the man interesting because he’s unusual in many ways. Merely being an academic who is openly conservative is out of the norm, but it’s more than that. He’s a walking, talking, thinking, writing, speaking, broadcasting intellectual who doesn’t inhabit an ivory tower, but gets dirt under his fingernails on his farm in California. That makes him feel more than most professors like a real person. I periodically dip into his podcast, The Classicist, where he discusses current issues against a background of his academic specialities, classical civilisations and warfare.

Here he is a guest of Pacifica Christian High School in their Great Conversations series, delivering in October last year a talk entitled The Demise of Classical Education, the Recovery of Greek Wisdom, and its Significance Today (not the catchiest title).

My rhetor hat is never far away so I immediately find myself trying to spot his Hump symptoms. Every speaker experiences the hump, but they get better at disguising it. It’s better for audiences’ enjoyment of speeches that they should not recognise the more subtle signs, so I’ll merely point out that he unnecessarily adjusts the microphone a couple of times. I am amused to see that I made the same observation on his previous appearance on this blog.

But I mentioned it really to point out to all speakers that they are not alone: everyone experiences the Hump – even speakers as good as this. The better the speaker the pickier I get and they don’t get much better than this.

Look at him speaking with his audience in the style of a fireside tutorial! Obviously he has no script or notes, because he’s a proper speaker, so nothing gets in the way of his relationship with his audience. Whether or not we agree with him he displays all the right speaking qualities like sincerity, honesty, command of his subject, and so on.

I’m enjoying it too much to allow myself to get picky. I’ll just leave you to enjoy it.

By the way, he speaks till 38:30, and then there’s about the same amount of time for Q&A which is every bit as interesting.

Heather Mac Donald’s audience matters

On 6 April, 2017, Heather Mac Donald was booked to address an audience of students at Claremont McKenna College in California. When the appointed hour arrived, the entrance to the auditorium was blocked by a crowd of chanting protesters, so Ms Mac Donald delivered the speech to an essentially empty hall and a camera which streamed her lecture to be received elsewhere. The camera’s footage also found its way online, thus ensuring that this protest multiplied the lecture’s audience several-fold. Today we increase that audience by a little more.

Disregarding the size of the audience, if I don my rhetor hat Ms Mac Donald has my sympathy. Some years ago I delivered a seminar in London to an international law firm. There were around 250 people in the auditorium. Subsequent feedback was severely mixed; and when I delved deeper it emerged that, without my having been told, an audio feed of my talk had been relayed to other offices worldwide, and every single piece of negative feedback had come from people not in the hall. I remonstrated with the organisers, not for enormously increasing my audience (I was promoting my book!), but for withholding from me the information. There are subtle but significant differences in how you deliver to those who are present and those who aren’t, and my being kept in ignorance of most of my audience, the unseen had been shortchanged.

Ms Mac Donald’s lecture is designed to be delivered to an audience in the hall, and she is here having to build ‘on the hoof’ a communication line to persons unseen and unknown. Let’s see how she copes.

The introduction is made by Sara Sanbar, who is clearly conscious of the absurdity of addressing an empty hall – she even mentions it. The serious side to her introduction is that she evidently disagrees with what she believes Mac Donald will say, but she is defending her right to say it. Some students understand the value of free speech.

Mac Donald begins. She’s talking about BLM (Black Lives Matter). Those three words comprise most of the chanting by the crowds who blocked students from attending this lecture. You might have thought from this that it must therefore be the case that to Ms Mac Donald black lives don’t matter. But in that case you’d be disastrously wrong. Within seconds of the lecture beginning it becomes supremely clear that no one holds black lives more precious than Ms Mac Donald.

The statistics that she hands out should churn your stomach. Here’s an example: black victims of homicide in the USA outnumber white and hispanic combined, by a factor of six. Who kill them? Overwhelmingly other blacks. Who is in between, trying to stop it happening, and then picking up the pieces afterwards? The BLM-maligned police.

You should listen to the whole of her lecture. Those protestors whom we can still hear faintly chanting should definitely have listened to her lecture. They would have learnt something – an activity which used to be the purpose of going to university.

BLM may not know the actual statistics, but they know perfectly well the basic facts. The organisation’s true purpose is not to defend blacks, but to pursue a much darker programme of disruption, the chief victims being blacks. The name is a fraud.

You don’t have to poke very far below the surface to learn that they are just one bunch of many, operating under fraudulent names. Antifa is not anti fascist: it is fascist. Hope-not-hate is consumed with hate. We can see where they learnt this trick: countries have been doing it for years. The communist totalitarian dictatorship of East Germany used to call itself the German Democratic Republic. Even today North Korea styles itself The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Of course black lives matter. Half a century ago, black lives in the USA were in far better shape than they are today. What went wrong is another story for another time.