Is the Wisdom of Homer Immune to Cancel Culture?
Is the Wisdom of Homer Immune to Cancel Culture? by Victor Davis Hanson for The Patriot Post
Canceling Homer is not virtue-signaling. It is broadcasting ignorance.
Amid the current hysteria of toppling statues and renaming things, we keep mindlessly expanding the cancel culture.
We are now seeing efforts to ban classics of Western and American literature. These hallowed texts are suddenly being declared racist or sexist by preening moralists.
Or, as one Massachusetts high school teacher recently boasted on social media, “Very proud to say we got the Odyssey removed from the curriculum this year!”
Over 20 years ago, John Heath and I co-authored “Who Killed Homer?” We warned that that faddish postmodernist race, class and gender theories — coupled with narrow academic specialization — was killing the formal discipline of classics in universities.
We worried that without custodians, the appeal of the great literature of Greece and Rome might wane in high schools as well. And it apparently has.
But why should we still read classics such as Homer’s “Odyssey” in the first place?
Classics teach us about the great challenges of the human experience — growing up, learning from adversity, never giving up, and tragically accepting that we are often at the mercy of forces larger than ourselves. All of these trials are themes of “Odyssey.”
Sometimes, Odysseus needs more than brains and brawn — like luck and divine help. How does the old Odysseus, after 10 years of wandering to get home to Ithaca, differ from his younger heroic self on the battlefield at Troy? What old skills and what new ones allow him to defeat the human and inhuman forces of the universe that try to stop his return home?
Great Western literature also questions, or even undermines, the very landscape it creates. Why is Athena, the tough female god, so much more astute than male Olympians like the touchy braggart Poseidon?