The Boomers' Wars

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during the Clinton War on Bosnia, when our American pilots were
bombing yet another Twentieth Century city into the Thirteenth Century,
I wrote an angry little piece addressed to the American Baby Boomer
generation. I seemed to recall that it was this generation that
stood up to our Imperial War Machine during the Sixties and brought
that war to a halt. In this war, however, I felt that they were
strangely silent. I wondered if they had changed their minds about
our Imperial wars in general? Or were they were hoping against hope
that this monster they had put in office was not really the psychopath
he appeared to be? I never could answer that question.

Today
Clinton's War and Bush-the-First's War keep dragging on and on,
as does the War on Drugs and the War on Dissenters, without much
comment from the Boomers, yet this bulging block of population has
reached its pinnacle of wealth and power and I suspect that it could
put a stop to these wars too, if it wanted to. Because it doesn't,
I conclude that it doesn't want to. Why?

The
most obvious explanations that come to mind are that first the Boomers
became preoccupied with their jobs and paying their mortgage and
raising their kids and then suddenly realized that they are facing
sixty and retirement, so they never took the time to think about
what their government was doing. "Like, hey, man, we were,
like, busy, you know." I don't think this answers the question.

The
Boomers were born after the Hot War that we supposedly won and into
the Cold War that threatened to annihilate mankind. As children
they heard the local air-raid sirens blare and they peered skyward
fearfully from beneath household furniture and schoolroom desks,
waiting for the planes and the mushroom clouds. This was a common,
everyday reality that I remember well.

While
this particular practice came to an end, the threat of nuclear holocaust
did not, which may have made these children wonder about the wisdom
of their adults, and which children ought to still be wondering
about today. Meanwhile, television came on the scene and filled
every household with the inane antics of vaudeville and the new
inanities of situation comedies juxtaposed with our glorious victories
in old wars, the noble battles of new wars, cowboys and Indians,
and the omnipresent threat of nuclear annihilation. Could this contradictory
daily fare be called confusing?

With
mature twenty-twenty hindsight today, many of us would agree that
the American people were tricked into fighting every political war
we have engaged in since 1776. The people don't want war, the politicians
and the political bureaucrats and the war-material manufacturers
want war. The people were either conned or forced into war by lies
or bayonets. Vietnam was no different. I vividly recall a 1966 article
in the National Geographic Magazine that depicted our compassionate
Green Berets ministering to the peasants in Vietnam with nary a
weapon in sight. See the good we do! Not quite the same picture
we got from Lieutenant Calley a few years later. I don't know what
kind of lies they were telling on television in those days, I refused
to own one.

But
the generation that President Johnson was sending to their deaths
in Southeast Asia was much larger than he or his buddies could imagine
and this generation was uniquely tired of all the lies inherent
in the contradictions they had been fed. Money also played an enormous
role in bringing the anti-war protest into every American home,
for this generation had it. The government that could effectively
shut up a Pete Seager's solo protest against the atomic bomb could
not shut up the hundreds of minstrels who emerged to protest our
war in Vietnam, minstrels who found a well-healed and ready market
for their songs.

Even
the mainstream media got the message after a while. The flower-children
were not the misplaced waifs of their beloved Depression after all,
they were the children of the affluent post-war middle-class and
they did not want to die for nothing.

Of
course, I will not forget to mention the cultural confusion also
introduced by our space program, by the lamentable murders of the
Kennedy brothers, both of whom should have lived to pay for their
crimes, by the murder of Martin Luther King, and by The Pill. Each
of these events would have had momentous cultural consequences if
spread over decades; instead, they all happened in a compressed
space of time. Then came the double-digit inflation to pay for our
government's wars. It was too much to integrate. Gurus popped up
everywhere to tell this generation what to think.

I
honestly believe that if it had not been for the naïve dedication
and hard work of a handful of college dropouts during the seventies,
and the courage of their investors, our economy and world economies
would have failed then and there, and precipitated the very Armageddon
that everybody was expecting, the fiery victory of world socialism.

Children
today cannot recapture this sense of a world without hope, although
for inscrutable reasons of their own some are trying very hard,
but their parents and their grandparents can. I wonder if this is
why the old folks are silent while their government murders innocents
in foreign lands and militarized police murder innocents at home?
Were these totalitarian Imperial values secretly buried in their
hearts all along? Is this the world they wanted thirty-years ago?

I
don't think so, but I am no longer sure. No, I am not calling for
the old Hippies to rise up and publicly burn their AARP cards. No,
I am not calling for the three-monkey RepubliCrats to make cloying
speeches and then forge new chains for us behind closed doors. I
am asking the Baby Boomers to wake up and look at the world they
have created. Is this what you wanted? If it isn't, then speak out,
and put a stop to these wars once and for all.

August
18, 2001

Robert
Klassen [send him mail] is
a medical technician and writer. Here’s
his web site.

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