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VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Elite heaven or real hell on Earth?

The horrific murder of Laken Riley was preventable. Had the Biden administration simply enforced federal immigration laws, the suspect, repeated felony offender and illegal alien Jose Ibarra, 26, a Venezuelan citizen, would not have been in the country.

When called out in his recent State of the Union address, President Joe Biden referenced the deceased Ms. Riley. But Biden misidentified her as “Lincoln Riley” — the USC football coach. Biden accurately noted that she “was killed by an “illegal.””

True — but almost immediately the left was infuriated over Biden’s accurate use of the supposedly insensitive “illegal” for the murder suspect Ibarra.

Biden soon apologized for correctly identifying her killer as an illegal alien — but not for misidentifying the victim. He left the callous impression that he was more upset about offending his open-borders base than about the savage beating of a 22-year-old American nursing student.

Biden’s woke open-borders agenda supersedes any worry over the subsequent mounting number of Americans who have fallen victim to foreign gangs and criminals. He seems oblivious to the nearly 100,000 Americans who die from fentanyl imported across open borders.

The same idea of abstract humanity juxtaposed with concrete callousness toward humans characterizes much of the current leftist agenda.

The Biden administration envisions mandating the use of electric vehicles and banning natural gas appliances. These measures will supposedly help “save” the planet — even as they make life far more expensive and dangerous for the middle class and poor in the here and now.

We are told that biologically born males who transition to females have a civil right to compete in female sports. Such transgender activism may sound compassionate in the abstract. Yet in the concrete, thousands of women are put in danger by competing against the much larger musculoskeletal frames and natural strength of transitioning males.

Moreover, tens of thousands of young female athletes are losing opportunities to excel and set records — thus destroying more than a half-century of women’s efforts to reach parity with men’s sports.

In 2021, United Airlines president Scott Kirby bragged that his company was now devoted to ensuring that 50 percent of all trained pilots would be either people of color or women. The Federal Aviation Administration had similar diversity, equity and inclusion mandates for hiring air traffic controllers.

In 2023, Boeing bragged that it was using “inclusion” as a criterion for executive compensation. Pay from now on would be calibrated in large part on the success of hiring new employees on the basis of their race, gender and sexual orientation.

In the abstract, ensuring that air travel “looks like America” is no doubt a noble goal. But if such subordination of meritocracy is canonized without proper attention to the only criterion that really matters — the safety of the nearly 3 million American airline passengers who take 45,000 flights per day — lives will be needlessly lost.

Some data and recent anecdotal evidence suggest that something has now gone dangerously wrong with the entire airline industry.

In January 2023, thousands of domestic flights were canceled or delayed because of a series of FAA computer failures. Over the past 10 years, near-crashes and collisions of commercial places have more than doubled.

Even scarier, in the past two weeks alone, United Airlines suffered several near-catastrophic events that might have involved crew lapses, air traffic controller errors or problems with Boeing jet construction or maintenance — or all three. Specific details have mysteriously been kept from the public.

A United flight from San Francisco to Mexico had to make an emergency landing because of failing hydraulics. Another United flight bound for San Francisco from Sydney, Australia, had to return around because of a “maintenance issue.” Yet another flight out of Chicago O’Hare International Airport likewise suffered undisclosed “maintenance issues” and returned home.

Yet another United flight from Houston to Florida was forced to make an emergency landing after one of its engines caught fire. At about the same time, a United flight bound for San Francisco from Hawaii experienced an engine failure in midflight.

Dozens were injured on a Boeing jet during a Chilean airline flight from Australia to New Zealand because of what officials called “a technical event during the flight which caused a strong movement.”

Anytime ideology and dogma trump merit, logic and safety, the result is predictably scary and dangerous.

America needs to recalibrate its priorities to protect the lives and aspirations of all its citizens, regardless of their race and gender. If our elites do not stop playing god and mandating their visions of heaven on Earth, then they will surely ensure hell for us all.

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and a classicist and historian at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. Contact him at authorvdh@gmail.com.

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