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Saturday, August 15, 2009

WOODSTOCK NOTIONS

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BY THE TIME WE GOT HOME FROM WOODSTOCK
THERE WAS A DRAFT NOTICE IN THE MAILBOX


HOW THE BOOMERS STOPPED THE VIETNAM WAR OR DIED TRYING

In Answer To An Ignorant Late-Boomer And His Whining, Do-Nothing, Over-Privileged Gen-X&Y-er Descendants

It really gets old hearing punk kids who've never done anything with their lives but skateboard, whose idea of self-expression is picking a tattoo out of a catalog, and whose music is the product of a lame TV show, a plastic producer or a guy who plays other people's records, whining about the "Boomers." All I can say is kids, the best part of you ran down your hippie-chick mother's hairy leg.

That goes double for our "video artist," whatever the f**k that is, below. Is he a dork who points a camera at art? Or a dweeb who makes unwatchable videos that look as if they were exposed to a magnetism by accident? Dunno. But I do know that this guy doesn't have a clue about a time period he actually drifted through, much less his debt to the people who REALLY LIVED and fought their way through it.

It never ceases to amaze us how some people can just drift through life without ever realizing what is happening around them. It's astonishing to hear the absurd notions of birthers and deathers, but they are not the first nor will they be the last to attempt to cobble together their own reality, with no factual input whatsoever. We usually associate this sort of ideation and behavior with the lunatic fringe of the American right wing. But here we have an example of similar historical distortion and delusional thinking from a supposed Leftist. His "rant" is relatively fact-free, and we have corrected his historical distortions, below:

SUZIE-Q
"The “Woodstock Generation” 40 Years on"
He often wonders, but he never thinks, or researches.
' I often wonder what Lady Emma might have thought about the so-called “sixties revolution”. There certainly was a lot to dance to, that’s for sure. But in the final analysis, I imagine she might have been just a bit disappointed with the Woodstock Generation. To be honest with you, I have always been a bit cynical on the subject of the Baby Boomers. The dirty little secret that no one (as far as I know) has yet dared to write about is that the youth revolt of the 1960s was born of out of the fact that the sons-of-privilege believed that the Vietnam War should have been fought by everyone and anyone but themselves '


What an asinine and ignorant rant! Although he is a "boomer" himself, he was obviously too young and stupid to know what was going on. But thanks to him anyway for sharing his prejudices and ridiculous notions. Very informative. Nice job of smearing an entire generation to whom he owes everything, including the fringed shirt off his tattooed back. All he's really said is that he is a bitter and clueless little person, who missed all the action and misunderstood all the significant changes brought about by his older brothers and sisters back in the day.

First of all, the initial motivation for the "youth revolt" or "The Movement," as we called ourselves, was not the Vietnam War but concern for others and for the planet itself: Banning the A-bomb, Civil Rights and conservation/ anti-pollution/ healthy foods, all going back to the 1940's & '50's. The Vietnam War did not become a huge issue until well after the first large contingent of Marines landed there in August of 1965. U.S. casualties did not hit shocking levels until 1967, and they were not exactly trumpeted by the Johnson Administration at the time. The two great images from the war that shocked us all were not seen until 1968 and 1972. The fact is, most people of every age group in the 1960's were simply unaware of what was going on in Vietnam, or even where it was, up until the disastrous Tet Offensive of 1969: You can blame the corporate media for that. They simply weren't giving the war much play up until then. And most people tuned it out because, up until then, not that many people had family or friends that went to Vietnam. That began to change by 1969, after the third full year of full-scale war for large American ground combat units. That was the point also when the American public's realization of the devastation the United States was wreaking upon the Vietnamese people themselves became the issue, not saving our own "privileged" asses, as the "video artist" puts it, above.

Most people I knew in the Movement were lower middle class and working class, blacks, whites, Asians, Latino's, men, women, kids and old people all shocked by what their government was doing in their name, and determined to do something about it. There were no "privileged" people involved that I knew, and most of us were actually quite vulnerable both financially and legally in doing what we did against a brutal and repressive government that could and did in fact use the criminal justice system, the Selective Service System and even the IRS against dissenters. The Administrations of both Johnson and Nixon used the police, the prisons, the draft and the full weight of all departments of the vast apparatus of the Federal government in all its' forms as defense against and punishment for lawful actions against the war in Vietnam. We were all very much at risk for any action we took to stop the genocidal war in Southeast Asia.

As to the draft, it didn't really mean much to anybody until it was almost over. LBJ did NOT end college draft deferments: Nixon limited them in 1972, but then stopped drafting men in 1973, hoping to undercut the already massive anti-war movement. Under Johnson and Nixon, there were so many deferments and exemptions available (for all females, overage males, underage males, conscientious objectors, clerics, high school & college students, technical school students, defense workers, Reserve & Guardsmen, prior service military, those with family members already in the service, married people with kids, sole support of the family, and almost any physical or mental problem) that you had to be REALLY naive, desperate for a paycheck, or "gung-ho" to end up in the military. Even then, most of our forces were someplace other than Vietnam.

ANYBODY could join the Guard & Reserve, they were hardly "elite" units. Most units were never called up, or didn't see ground combat in Vietnam if they were called up. (Bush's crime was going AWOL, not just signing up in the first place. Somebody else went to Vietnam in his place while he hid out FROM the Guard.) The Navy had very few people there who were actually in combat and at risk within South Vietnam, and the Air Force lost very few of the people it did have there, by comparison with losses in the Army & Marines. Even in the Army, most MOS's were non-combat. Those in "combat arms" in the Army & Marine Corps, infantry, tanks & artillery, were the main personnel at risk on a daily basis, usually for one twelve or eighteen month tour, unless they volunteered for more. There was no "stop-loss." Most enlistments were two or three years, or less, and many more enlisted than were drafted.

Repeat: Most who served in Vietnam were VOLUNTEERS, not draftees. And the total number who did serve was just a fraction of the entire Baby Boom generation. So, no, we did not fight to stop the war just to keep from going ourselves.

So, no; opposition to the war was not based entirely or even partly on selfish and cowardly motives, for most of us. In fact, it took more guts to stand up to the Fascistic bullsh*t that was going on than it did to hide out in the Guard, keep your mouth shut and hope your unit didn't get called up. Many good people, kids, really, had their lives ruined by actively standing up to the government and speaking out against the war. And most who did speak out were motivated as much or more by strongly held moral and political concerns for the lives of others and opposition to the betrayal of our American principles of self-determination and anti-Imperialism than by any concern for their own safety. Many of us went to jail, lost our homes & families, had to leave the country or go underground for years, foregoing all the blessings of American middle class existence. Some were ruthlessly hunted down and a few were killed. It was not a good career move. For every Jerry Rubin, there were ten thousand Abbie Hoffman's.

Let's not forget those who did go to war, who were overwhelmingly working class and disproportionately black & Hispanic. They were all the hated "Boomers" too. Unemployment and unawareness of the alternatives, ignorance about the war and lack of other options led many of these guys into the military, as in every generation. They learned pretty quick, though. Some of the strongest opposition to the war came from returning Vet's. They helped initiate outreach to other Vet's and guys in the Guard, Reserve and on active duty in the regulars, and to working class kids who were at risk for going over there. "Boomers" all. It was the old rich Republicans who loudly supported the War but refused to go there. They are the ones who thought the Army was beneath them, and disrespected our returning troops by limiting their benefits and medical treatment. Most Democrats of that age in Congress after the war, rich or poor, served in the military during the Vietnam era, like Medal of Honor winner Bob Kerrey. Most Republicans, like Newt Gingrich, did not, just as conservative "patriots" like Ronald Reagan had not fought in combat, even in the dark days of WWII.

It was the older generation that supported the war up until the end. It was the WWII & Korean War people who went for Nixon and Humphrey and war and repression. It was that generation that strong-armed the rising progressive majority out of the Democratic Party, effectively keeping most of us out of government until well into the 90's. Even then, all we had to vote for were Blue Dogs, mostly, like Clinton. Many Movement figures were kept out of electoral politics by bogus criminal convictions for protesting against the Vietnam War and for Civil Rights, and by the general corporatist drift of a Party purged of "Leftists," i.e., the progressive majority. The rich, the old, the entrenched and the conservative tend to dominate in politics and in the economy, despite the cultural advances of the young, then and now.

Anybody who knows anything about the Presidential election of 1980 knows it was a very tight 3-way race, which Carter lost only because Anderson siphoned off liberal votes. Turnout was historically low, especially among young people. Reagan lost the youth vote, i.e. the “Boomers,” but there weren’t enough of them voting for Carter to win. There wouldn’t be a “Boomer” candidate until Clinton, who won because of the “Boomer” voters, as everyone who follows actual developments in politics and not their own wild-assed notions would know. Again, the older generation tended to go for the more conservative candidate, despite their own dependency upon government.

But I won't tar that entire generation the way our whiner did his own. There were many heroic figures from the WWII generation in the Movement, and they helped lead the opposition to the bomb, the war, racism, sexism, homophobia, nativism, sectarianism, fundamentalism, right-wing extremism & violence, poverty and social injustice. Did the WWII & Boomer generations succeed on every front? No, not yet, not 100%. But unlike the whiners, we fought on, and we will never stop fighting. We did change the world, as anyone old enough and smart enough can tell you. The "Counter-Culture" is now mainstream, although it has been co-opted and corporatized beyond recognition. It's the Gen-X&Y-ers that have reduced it all to fashions and slogans, artifacts and labels, without understanding or adopting much that was good about the spirit that created that culture. They're the ones who grew up Republican and "libertarian," in opposition to their liberal and progressive parents, the Boomers.

The Counter-Culture was created by genuinely brave and outrageous people beginning in the oppressive 1950's. It exploded as my own cohort became vocal and politically active at a very young age in the 1960's. It continued on into the Seventies as the exuberance and curiosity, the openness and joy, the revolutionary and adventurous spirit carried over into our personal lives. I mean, among those of us who were capable of those things; always a minority, if a highly visible one.

This was a mass movement without a leader or a hierarchy, but most people did not have the courage or the vision to join it, though all were famously welcomed, and everyone ultimately benefited. Most people just plodded on like old plow horses in the same old strangulating harness. They're the ones that voted Republican and DINO. They're the ones that devoted their lives to the willfully blind pursuit of money and things. Mostly, they were never cool, and mostly, those who were cool never fell in with them. They certainly were not the "Woodstock Generation," whatever their age. The "hippies" or freaks who fought against the war and created the Counter-Culture never went over to the enemy in large numbers. Those who did were never truly one of us. We're the ones who are struggling to survive now as joyful anti-materialists in an increasingly joyless materialist's world, where the younger generations have failed to embody much of any spirit, and dedicate themselves only to accumulating useless junk, from iPhones to retro-hippie paraphernalia. Sad. It's like they were never young, but they never grew up, either.

Yes, we "Boomers" did grow up, and we did have to make some accommodations to survive in a world dominated by greedy, evil people, a tiny minority of whom seem to have always controlled everything, no matter what we did. But we never gave in to them, we never stopped fighting them, and in the long run, we will win, despite bitter hopeless little people who were too young to have experienced the real revolution of the 60's, but too old to have grown up enjoying the emotional, spiritual and intellectual benefits of that revolution. You're caught in between generations, whiners, so all you can do is p*ss and moan about things that are just objects to you: Books and records, posters and clothing. Sorry, man. That wasn't it. What it was is what you missed: The spirit.

(cross-posted at SUZIE-Q by cosanostradamus)
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4 Comments:

Blogger PENolan said...

Bravo!

4:57 AM, August 17, 2009  
Anonymous Connie said...

Will you marry me?

Connie

8:49 AM, August 17, 2009  
Blogger vortexgods said...

Hey, I like hippies! They are the only people who really understand me.

2:33 PM, August 17, 2009  
Blogger Cosa Nostradamus said...

PENolan:
Grazie!


Connie:
In a heartbeat. But what'd'ya do with HMOK?


vortexgods:
They're prob'ly just deaf.
.

8:42 PM, August 17, 2009  

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