Victor Davis Hanson, a conservative ideological zealot, compares the destruction of ancient Buddhist statues in Afghanistan with efforts to remove the dam from the Hetch Hetchy Valley (Commentary, July 19). And, he claims that those who would do so just don’t understand history; they are ignorant.
Well, if Hanson were to read John Muir (one of the handful of real intellectuals in American history), he would know that Muir equated damming the Hetch Hetchy Valley with the destruction of human spiritual resources (a “temple,” as I recollect him calling it). And, as Muir also pointed out, there were much more appropriate (though not cheaper) places to site the function of that dam other than in an existing national park.
Now, it is true that building a new dam and removing an old one is a lot of work, but dams have a silting-in lifespan anyway, and how is it that such public work is less valuable than building nuclear bombers that will never be used? And perhaps one of the failings of American pride (which we can correct) is our unwillingness to recognize and rectify our mistakes (ask the descendants of slaves and Indians about this).
Hanson offers a good example of the pseudo-intellectual, anti-intellectual, obscurative legerdemain being promulgated in the public discourse today in the service of selfish and privileged elites.
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