Tragically, too many Americans - particularly some of the more or less influential wordsmiths of the Neoliberal media - have found a common refrain in why America "remains obsessed with the 60s." They feel the decade has long since passed, the events have been noted, and hey- it's more than past time to move on. Such is the case with part time humorist and author P.J. O'Rourke - who's made a living skewering cultural obsessions, fixations and idiosyncrasies for what Bajans call "donkey's years".
He takes them up again in his recent TIME essay (January 13), 'Keeping the 60s on Life Support', mocking the notion that this decade is worthy of any such prolonged attention. In many ways O'Rourke's take mimics that of songster Bob Dylan who, two years ago, in a CBS Morning Show appearance said:
“I can’t imagine people making such a big fuss over the Sixties. Unless things are so dull now they just have to think of some time when times were better.”
Leaving one to wonder if Dylan even was semi-conscious for the 60s, or merely survived them in some kind of stoner haze. Yeah, why make a "fuss" over the decade that saw two signal pieces of legislation passed (The Civil Rights Act in 1964, and Voting Rights Act in 1965) that basically conferred the practical basis for the exercise of rights to a minority of the population, that hadn't been manifested for over 100 years? Oh, and then there was the legislation that gave us Medicare, which nearly 45 million seniors depend on now and without which they'd likely be dying in ditches, unattended and impecunious.
Let’s also be clear that only an idiot, or semi-comatose stoner fool would opine that people reference the 60s now as “some time when times were better”. Are you effing kidding me? A decade of upheaval with four major assassinations – including of John F. Kennedy, his brother Robert, and Martin Luther King – essentially the entire solid core of American liberalism at that time. (Accounting for how we veered into namby-pamby, free market Neo-liberalism as a capitalist, whore substitute for the real McCoy).
Sadly, it seems O'Rourke is no better informed, and finds it easier to set out semi-facetious word play on the decade than to do a serious analysis. He begins, of course, with the centerpiece event - the JFK assassination- which effects still cascade through time as we behold the "anti-Nation" that never would have materialized had JFK lived. By that I mean the arc of recorded history would likely have seen no Vietnam War, no 58,000 Americans killed there, no early termination to the manned space program (on account of $269b wasted on Vietnam) and NO election of Ronnie Raygun -with the massive inequality it ushered in. Oh, and likely no Gee Dumbya Bush shoehorned into power 37 years later! (With no 9/11, Iraq war or Afghanistan either!)
One of the saddest lines ever penned occurs in O'Rourke's essay as when he writes:
"I was driving my 15 year old daughter and three of her class mates to school on Nov. 22, and I asked them if they realized it was the day President Kennedy was assassinated. The three girls had no idea. Two girls (my daughter included) had no idea who President Kennedy was."
Truly, I'd have been ashamed to admit such a thing in a widely circulated medium, even TIME. It reveals the author to be defunct (as a parent) in his own contributions to his daughter's education, in failing to provide what her school didn't. It also says more about the currently deficient high school history curriculum than it does about an event O'Rourke presumes is passé. It again, shows that if today's kids are being denied knowledge of this defining event (which likely saw a coup d'état and our nation's future course permanently altered) than they really do need to avail themselves of other sources i.e. via the Kickstarter project: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1450964693/jfk-and-the-unspeakable-the-graphic-adaptation"
That O'Rourke's daughter and her friends don't know that they likely wouldn't even exist today had Kennedy not defied the Joint Chiefs' plan to bomb and invade Cuba in October, 1962, is beyond incredible. And yet, O'Rourke sees fit to mock the importance of the event to the extent of even asserting (likely in his gross ignorance - in which case he needs to check our my JFK FAQs from November):
"Almost any adjective can be applied to the 60s except 'serious'. ....We had heroes in the 1960s ...their flaws didn't lead to their destruction, they were killed by deranged fools".
If P.J. truly believes this he needs a thorough course in deep politics. Indeed, none of the liberal core slaughtered in the 1960s were killed by "deranged fools" although that is the way it has been made to appear by a PR-tainted corporate media. Sadly, not enough Americans - like O'Rourke - dig deeply enough to find the real answers, say in understanding why Lee Oswald was no "deranged fool" but rather a targeted (by the CIA) asset to be manipulated into being the decoy. I went through the explanation for this in detail, in two October blog posts on 'The Pre-Assassination Framing of Lee Harvey Oswald'. Does any of this matter to O'Rourke? Seemingly not, so long as he can get some passing jollies on perhaps the most significant (historically) decade of the past 150 years.....and get paid for his balderdash.
O'Rourke in his phony (funny?) essay declares: "Other Golden eras have had bad ends - Edwardian England and the Roaring 20s, but they don't have the deathless, Keith Richards staying power of the 60s."
That may well be so, but if the reasons accounting for this exception aren't clear to O'Rourke, then perhaps he ought to leave out any further ruminations on the decade until they are. To that end, perhaps he needs to avail himself of learning the real history of that decade, not the phony one on offer from the Neoliberal historical revisionists and their national security state accomplices ....who'd just love it dearly if all Americans were as fallow, ignorant and lazy as P.J. appears to be.
But then, what do you expect from a part time humorist who has zero exposure - far less grasp - of recent American history?