Dear Sixties-L List Members:
Three weeks ago, "in the interest of thwarting a growing image of baby
boomers as a generation of self-indulgent navel gazers," I referred list
members to the June 12,
2000, issue of TIME magazine. A four-page article by Daniel Okrent denigrated
baby boomers with acrimonious fervor, falling just short of epithets.
I sent a letter to the editor and encouraged those of you who might be
interested to do the same. In your reply posts, some of you doubted that this
invective would have any impact.
Well, it did ... but not much. I was quoted in this week's TIME along with
three other baby boomers, as follows: "Boomers set in motion the longest
economic expansion in history by developing the personal computer and
operating-system software." This comment represents about one-tenth of the
sidebar space that TIME editors gave for rebuttal of Okrent's biased,
revisionist reporting. TIME printed none of the letters.
I hope some, if not all of you boomer list members, agree that we must
restore our penchant for activism. We're now the target, and we're being
criticized unfairly in the media almost daily.
For example, in today's "Denver Post," Steven Rosen, a boomer movie critic,
begins his review of "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle," as follows:
"The payback for baby boomers' refusal to grow up -- for watching endless
reruns of 'Green Acres,' say, instead of reading Proust -- is to live long
enough for Hollywood to make a bad movie out of every single old-TV
Subtle, but the seeds of boomer contempt received another bath in Denver.
These criticisms must not persist unanswered.
For those of you also interested in setting the record straight, I'm pasting
below my rejoinder letter to TIME.
I invite you to do the same.
July 1, 2000
TIME Magazine Letters
Time & Life Building
New York, NY 10020
To the Editors:
In a July 3, 2000, TIME sidebar, "Power to the Flower Children," you
acknowledge a "storm of resentment from '60s-generation readers" responding
with umbrage over Daniel Okrent's biting June 12th article, "Twilight of the
You allowed a scant rebuttal paragraph and mollifying quotes from just four
baby boomers (including mine) to balance a mordant, anti-boomer article
spanning over four pages. The sidebar's headline reduces my generation's 76
million individuals to "Flower Children" -- another rebuff. And you end the
sidebar with one sad boomer's lamentation about Woodstock, further
reinforcing our self-absorbed image.
I wonder: Is this TIME magazine's best demonstration of the first principle
of journalism -- balance and objectivity?
In my previous letter, I challenged TIME editors to "look at advancements in
almost any field and you will discover significant, unsung contributions by
baby boomers." I flung down this gauntlet in defiance of Okrent's cynical
conclusion that the baby boom "is a generation committed to nothing more (or
less) substantial than what we appear to be leaving as our signal (sic)
legacy to American culture: casual Fridays."
Just three weeks after your fearless foray into baby boomer bashing -- an
article rife with ageism and revisionism -- your July 3rd issue also trumpets
the plucky achievements of J. Craig Venter (b. 1947) and Francis Collins (b.
These baby boomers have led teams of scientists in resplendently sequencing
the human genome, "the necessary first steps to laying bare the genetic
triggers of hundreds of diseases," an achievement that "could change our
very conception of what disease is." Of course, there is no mention of their
membership in the maligned generation.
(By the way, in the spirit of Okrent's vision of his generation, perhaps
these two rivaling scientists finally made peace after their reported pizza
party by then passing a bong and trading nostalgic stories about our heady
According to the International Principles of Professional Ethics in
Journalism, "The foremost task of the journalist is to serve the people's
right to true and authentic information through an honest dedication to
objective reality whereby facts are reported conscientiously in their proper
I believe America expects this high standard of TIME and not the tabloid
journalism to which you are more frequently succumbing.
I challenge you to research and report a true accounting of the baby boom's
contributions to contemporary American culture and society. (We've almost
seen enough about the generation's faults.) And, in doing so, I further
challenge you to live up to the beneficent ethics of your own profession.
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