The worst generation in American history still refuses to grow up.
I was wondering when it would happen. For over thirty years I have been anxiously awaiting the backlash. Alas, for years it never arrived. What backlash have I been awaiting, you ask? Why, the backlash to the most self-important, morally superior, narcissistic generation to cast a shadow across this republic in its history, the Baby Boomers. Had the generation just been designated “the Babies” and been left at that, America would have been on the right track. As we now are about to discover, while the Boomers decline into senescence, they never really did grow up — at least their headline-grabbing cohort never grew up.
As I, a Baby Boomer by age if not by inclination, grew into the 1980s, 1990s, and beyond, I awaited the next generation’s rebellion. Certainly the next generation was not going to immerse itself in drugs, zoo sex, and the more idiotic specimens of rock and roll, while adopting all the slogans of the age. Certainly some would resist the pull of conformity that characterized the headliners of my generation. Yet I was wrong. A large number of the so-called Gen Xers did conform to the Boomers’ ways, and they looked about as stupid and pathetic as the real thing.
Yet now perhaps the era I have awaited has come. Possibly the backlash to the Boomers is at hand. Its herald is a book written by a Gen Xer, Bruce Cannon Gibney, and aptly titled A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America. You took a long time in filing your copy, Mr. Gibney, but I welcome you anyway. The only problem is that you blame my cohort of the Boomers’ generation for equal parts of the generation’s atrocities, and there I take issue with you. We had very little to do with the Boomers’ achievement. From the first campus demonstration in the 1960s to the Boomers’ recent whines about aging, the Baby Boomers were almost exclusively a left-wing phenomenon.
All their gurus were of the left, from the anti-war crank Staughton Lynd to their prophet Charles A. Reich, author of The Greening of America, who incidentally was a virgin until middle age when he discovered that his penis was a dual use technology. Admittedly the Boomers and their sages were from the infantile left but the left nevertheless. One of the fallacies of the Boomer generation was that Saul Alinsky was an influential theorist for the militant Boomers. Maybe Saul was a theoretician for Hillary Clinton and Bill, but for the rest of 1960s and 1970s America he was pretty much a nobody. Far more influential were Malcolm X, the recently deceased Tom Hayden, and a gaggle of rock musicians who insisted on singing songs about kook metaphysics, nuclear war, nutritional guidance, and who mostly died premature deaths, usually from a drug overdose.
The Boomers did when they got around to taking jobs take them in media and the universities — though quack therapy positions were also prized. There they conferred their nonsensical readings of history, social science, and popular culture on America. They immortalized real tragedies such as the slaughter at Kent State and the high jinks at Woodstock into modern America as the Boomers’ Valley Forge and Gettysburg. Their only legacy was an increase of drug addiction, venereal disease, and a spreading benightedness championed at our nation’s grade schools, high schools, and colleges, often by teachers’ unions.
Gibney’s case against the Boomers is strong, though as I say he includes the whole generation coming out of the 1940s and 1950s. He goes too far.
He points out that the first Boomer president was Bill Clinton and the second was George W. Bush. He might have added that Barack Obama, though not strictly speaking a Boomer, was almost wholly dependent on the Boomers’ hokum. Then came Hillary Clinton, the epitome of a Boomer, and Donald Trump, only marginally a Boomer. I think history is going to view him as America’s first real estate developer since George Washington. My guess is, and once again I am an outlier, history will judge him well.
Woodstock Gathering Festival 2008 (Omasz/Wikimedia Commons)