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

From: William Mandel (
Date: Mon Jun 12 2000 - 21:17:43 CUT

  • Next message: David Horowitz: "Re: [sixties-l] apologies to Mr. Horowitz and list guidelines"

    May I offer a rather strange suggestion? There are certain
    qualities that all generations respect. One of them is courage. I
    have tried for forty years to outlive being pigeonholed in
    people's minds as the man with courage, for my testimony before
    McCarthy in 1953 and HUAC in 1960. But I have not wanted to be
    looked at like a baseball veteran who, decades ago, hit a homer
    in the bottom of the ninth in the seventh game to win the World
    Series, and knows that, for the rest of his life, he can't top
    that and simply relaxes and enjoys the glory.
       I have done my best, through scholarship and activism and
    thinking, to continue to be of use. That has served to break down
    the barriers to younger generations only on the rare occasions
    when they and I happen to have been in situations in which we had
    to listen to each other. Most recently, that occurred at the Stop
    Corporate Dominance conference at Portland State U., Oregon.
    Otherwise I feel isolated. But there is a way to break through.
       Yesterday I read at a bookstore in Los Angeles. As people
    entered, I saw none below middle age, and most above it. This is
    a large place, and there were lots of browsers in areas separate
    from the meeting rom. I asked the manager whether, to attract a
    crowd, I could play over his p.a. system the opening couple of
    minutes of the actuality tape of my duel with McCarthy ("This is
    a bookburning! You lack only the tinder to set fire to the books
    as Hitler did twenty years ago, and I am going to get that across
    to the American people!")
        A bookstore employee looked up and came in to listen to my
    reading. He personally bought a copy of my Saying No To Power.
    Bookstore clerks are not overpaid, even though I'm sure he got a
    discount. He said to me that he was buying the book specifically
    because I had said no to power.
        So here is my thought. The 60s were a time of mass heroism.
    Hundreds beaten up, thousands jailed, a great many careers either
    ruined or long postponed. Well, dammit, get that heroism across
    to your students, and you will be admired for it. And, academic
    politesse to the contrary notwithstanding, don't be afraid of the
    first person singular. Young people want models, and if you
    individually deserve to be a model, they'll honor you for it, and
    listen more attentively to your view of the entire period.
                               William Mandel

    christina mcvay wrote:
    > I certainly wish Brent Green luck in getting his letter to Time
    > published--though I think the comparison to Jews in nazi Germany is
    > stretching it a bit. I teach at Kent State, mostly freshmen & sophomores,
    > was also a freshman here in 1970. My general impression (there are, of
    > course, some pretty perceptive young people out there) is that younger
    > generations are not learning to hate us so much as to view us, as Brent
    > suggests, as silly and somehow misguided. Over the years I've discovered
    > that one thing that does get their attention and maybe make at least some
    > of them willing to look a bit deeper is pointing out that if it were not
    > for us, they would be sitting in college classrooms in suits and skirts, &
    > administrations would still be functioning as substitute parents. (This
    > may seem silly in itself, but it opens the door to more serious
    > consideration of other sixties issues. . . .)
    > --Chris McVay, English & Pan-African Studies
    > At 07:33 PM 6/9/00 EDT, you 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
    > >

    To be removed from list, e-mail "Opt Out."
    You may find of interest website

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Jun 12 2000 - 22:10:23 CUT