Saturday, January 13, 2007

A movement conservative has a painful epiphany

I had a heretical thought for a conservative - that I have got to teach my kids that they must never, ever take Presidents and Generals at their word - that their government will send them to kill and die for noble-sounding rot - that they have to question authority.

On the walk to the parking garage, it hit me. Hadn't the hippies tried to tell my generation that? Why had we scorned them so blithely?
Rod Dreher and I are roughly the same age (he's about a year younger than me), and were both too young to really understand the entire Vietnam War debacle. Apparently, unlike Mr. Dreher, I had a different set of experiences as a child and adolescent. For starters, I spent some time as a young child with a legit hippie (an uncle), and even though my parents were (and still are) rather conservative folks they had made sure to impart the necessity of questioning authority during the course of my childhood. I'm sure they weren't too thrilled that I ended up questioning their authority more than a few times, but that's another story for another time.

The Vietnam War was itself a product of another dishonest and bloodthirsty President from Texas (Lyndon Johnson) - one with arguably genocidal consequences, complete with its own "surge" initiated by Johnson and continued on by Nixon. This is what us Gen-X-ers lived in the shadow of as we came of age in the early 1980s. Unfortunately one of the messages of the anti-war contingent (which as I understand it was not only composed of hippies) - namely that of questioning authority - got quickly forgotten as we were fed a diet of Rambozo the Clown, Top Goon, Iron Ego, Ronald Raygun's "Morning in America" madness, ad nauseum. A generation hence, and the atrocity has been repeated, with its own arguably genocidal consequences. I hope Glenn Greenwald is right that there is a silver lining surrounding the dark cloud over the US (and the rest of our aching planet), that the next generation will really "get it" regarding the need to be skeptical of the claims made by Presidents and Generals, as well as (I might add) the pronouncements of elites theorizing in the ivory towers of think tanks.

I know this much: as long as I am able to draw a breath I will make sure to impart the painful lessons of this latest debacle to all with ears to hear.

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