Column One in the L.A. Times is devoted to a profile of Victor Davis Hanson, the Cal State Fresno classicist whose writings on the war against terrorism, immigration and other topics dear to conservatives have made him a favorite of the Bush White House. For his next book, on the Peloponnesian War, he just got a $500,000 advance -- more than for his 14 other books combined, and enough to quit his day job.
Writes roving Times correspondent Rone Tempest:
Hanson will leave Cal State Fresno next summer as one of America's leading conservative writers, most prominently showcased in his weekly online column in the like-minded National Review...
It's not hard to understand how Hanson has become an intellectual bulwark of administration foreign policy, given his conviction that nothing less than the future of Western civilization depends on our cleareyed recognition of the menace posed by militant Islamic forces.
"We haven't had enemies this antithetical to the United States in a long, long time," Hanson said several days later over coffee in San Francisco, where he was a guest speaker at the Commonwealth Club. "Take your pick of the Western agenda. Women's rights? They want to go back to the Dark Ages. Homosexual rights? They want to kill them. Democracy? They don't believe in it. Religious tolerance? You're dead if you're not a Muslim. Technology? They don't like it."
Hanson grew up in Selma, a flyspeck San Joaquin Valley farm town 19 miles southwest of Fresno where his family, descendants of Swedish immigrants, has raised raisins and other fruit since the mid-19th century. Hanson himself once dreamed of a life producing "the best raisins and the best fruit in the world."
After getting his doctorate in classics from Stanford University in 1980, Hanson eschewed academia to return to Selma to make his life as a family farmer.
But the farm fantasy foundered in the new world of corporate agriculture and globalized markets. "I learned the hard way that all the things that used to be noble, physical hard work and creating a real product, somebody overseas could do cheaper," said Hanson, who has written two books on the decline of family farming.