Even though I’m embarrassed to have been a Democrat for so many years, I’m proud that even in my 20’s, I thought the 60’s was the worst decade in America’s history.
Because I was born in 1940, I was at UCLA for some of those years and had a bird’s eye view of my fellow college students. It was not a pretty sight.
What makes that time the source of so much nostalgia for so many people of my age -- the incessant folk songs, the tie-dyed shirts and blouses, the granny glasses, the bongs, the infantile anti-establishment content that permeated so much popular culture -- made me yawn even then.
The young folks in those days were on the right side of the civil rights movement, but that was the extent of their good works. The anti-war campaign was a charade, having far less to do with pacifism than with lack of courage and discipline. The draft was still going strong and it was fear, not moral principles, which led young men to flee to Canada or to burn their draft cards.
The baby-boomers born in the years after World War II were members of the most coddled generation America had ever seen. From birth, they had been treated like royalty, privileged and spoiled not for any special qualities or accomplishments, but simply because they existed and were their parents’ little darlings.
Nobody should have been too surprised that as they came of age, they were a religion onto themselves. Their not so holy trinity consisted of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. I never really got a handle on how that made them so special. But gods do not have to explain themselves.
Their favorite line, the one about not trusting anybody over the age of 30, wasn’t just an inane catchphrase. It became the order of the day, not just for those under 30, but those well past it. It wasn’t just wars they got to judge, either, but movies, music, TV shows, books and politicians. It fell on children to bestow the equivalent of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.
The fact that they weren’t particularly knowledgeable or even open-minded, except, of course, when it came to sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, only added to their mystique. Unlike adults, the thinking went, they hadn’t sold out. What made their bullshit so totally odious was the fact that their elders, for the most part, bought into it. In addition, because they were so lacking in humor, their solemnity was taken for sincerity.