Re: [sixties-l] Brewing hatred of the baby boomer generation

From: Ted Morgan (
Date: Sat Jun 10 2000 - 15:58:46 CUT

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    Thanks for passing that one along, Brent. This has been happening for quite a
    looooong time!!! Going back, in fact, into the 60s. But check out columns that
    mention the 60s by George Will, Jonathan Yardley, Charles Krauthammer, to name
    only a few of the perennial ones; and Time, in particular, has been reducing the
    60s to a sell-out, self-indulgent "boomer" generation for years! Check out Lance
    Morrow's occasional editorials on the subject. I've been collecting samples for
    a while --and would appreciate any others that list folks might pass along....
    One chapter in my book will be on the 60s-bashing campaigns --what are
    essentially selective propagandistic 'blasts' against a decontextualized
    "Sixties. Another will be on the way the media --in post-60s years-- have
    contributed to this via films, ads, news accounts that similarly 'reduce' the
    Sixties to a generational phenomenon, highlight the usual images of violence,
    blissed-out-hippies, etc. The two "strains" of media culture "Sixties" feed on
    and reinforce each other and force "out" of public visibility and public memory
    the various inspiring and by-implication radical histories of people mobilizing
    to challenge oppression, injustice, and change the world around them (in the
    process, in many cases, 'reconstructing' their own 'identities.').
    Ted wrote:

    > Dear Fellow Sixties-L List Members:
    > In the interest of thwarting a growing image of baby boomers as a generation
    > of self-indulgent navel gazers, I respectfully refer you to the June 12,
    > 2000, issue of TIME magazine. In an article entitled "Twilight of the
    > Boomers," 52-year-old turncoat and journalist Daniel Okrent positions baby
    > boomers as a "generation committed to nothing more (or less) substantial than
    > what we appear to be leaving as our signal (sic. single?) legacy to American
    > culture: casual Fridays."
    > I've seen more and more articles and book reviews in the mainstream media
    > foisting this attitude. I hope some of you, as activists and scholars, share
    > my indignation and commitment to challenge ageism, no matter how cynically
    > it's framed.
    > I'm pasting here my reply to TIME with the hope a fraction of the letter ends
    > up in print. I invite you to do the same.
    > TIME Magazine Letters
    > Time & Life Building
    > Rockefeller Center
    > New York, NY 10020
    > To the Editors:
    > In his recent article, "Twilight of the Boomers," TIME journalist Daniel
    > Okrent demonstrates ageism in its most disparaging form. At best, he is a
    > revisionist; at worst a bigot.
    > Okrent agrees with the accuracy of the satirical newspaper the Onion in
    > arriving at a foreboding conclusion: "The ravages of age will take its toll
    > on boomer self-indulgence, and the curtain will at long last fall on what is
    > regarded by many as the most odious generation America has ever produced."
    > Substitute "African American," or "World War II veteran," or "feminist" for
    > "boomer" in the first clause of the above sentence, and then substitute
    > "group" for "generation" in the second. Is it difficult to understand my
    > outrage?
    > Those who buy into his prejudices gloss over the baby boom generation's true
    > contributions.
    > Whom, exactly, does he think built the digital economy and set in motion the
    > longest economic recovery in American history? Boomers set the stage by
    > developing the personal computer, operating systems software, and the
    > Internet. Look at advancements in almost any field from 1975 through
    > mid-1990, and you will discover significant, unsung contributions by baby
    > boomers.
    > Has my generation lived off the fat of the land without suffering or
    > sacrificing?
    > Although 58,000 of us died in Vietnam and another 300,000 became injured, our
    > war was within US borders -- a war against arcane values and a hegemonic
    > political and social power structure. Because of many noble sacrifices
    > 1) Never again will a million US citizens be sent to fight in an undeclared
    > war;
    > 2) Never again will women live in this society as second-class citizens;
    > 3) Never again will racial minorities suffer segregation and discrimination
    > sponsored by sectors of our government and its institutions;
    > 4) Never again will companies paternalistically and autocratically control
    > employee's lives;
    > 5) Never again will companies dump poisons unabated into the natural
    > environment
    > Blatant prejudice is hardly the worst implication of this article. By using
    > an acerbic lens through which to view the aging baby boom, Okrent invites the
    > war between generations that his sources haunting predict. Because of the
    > size of his soapbox - TIME magazine -- he is contributing handily to a
    > loathsome image that younger generations may learn to detest -- ushering
    > elderly boomers toward becoming a hate symbol like the Jew became in Nazi
    > Germany.
    > Okrent needs to disavow membership in my generation; we don't want him.
    > Sincerely,
    > Brent Green

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