Thursday, July 05, 2007

More '60s Historical Revisionism

As I wrote in a recent column, how baby boomers remember the sixties often determines how they view the world today. If they’re nostalgic over the fortieth anniversary of the “Summer of Love” in San Francisco’s Haight/Ashbury district and believe that changes in American culture resulting from the sixties have been largely positive, they probably consider themselves liberal and vote Democrat. If they have a generally negative view of those changes, they probably consider themselves conservative and vote Republican.

Most middle and high school textbooks offer a generally favorable view. No surprise because they tend to be written by boomers who are now liberal/left history professors. The following paragraph from Prentice Hall’s “American Nation” - the most widely used text in American middle schools - is a good example:
Many young Americans became involved in the counterculture movement. Like the Beat Generation of the 1950s, members of the counterculture rejected traditional customs and ideas. Young people protested against the lifestyle of their parents by trying to be different. They developed their own lifestyle. They liked to wear torn, faded jeans and simple work clothes. Women wore miniskirts. Men often wore beards and let their hair grow long. Many listened to new forms of rock music. Some experimented with illegal drugs. Members of the counterculture adopted new attitudes and values. They criticized competition and the drive for personal success. They questioned some aspects of traditional family life.

I already debunked the claim that “Some . . . experimented with illegal drugs” as historical revisionism. Drug use was in fact widespread, habitual, highly destructive of countless American lives, and has been ever since. (So did Ted Nugent in a piece yesterday) That the counterculture “questioned some aspects of traditional family life” is just as laughable. They did far more than “question some aspects.” They scorned and trashed nearly all of them.

It would be more accurate to say the counterculture staged a full-scale attack on the very institution of family that is the basic unit of any society, and that the results have been disastrous. Consider just one function of family common to almost all cultures everywhere - that of marriage. Every successful society has regulated it - most by encouraging monogamous, lifelong coupling between one male and one female which recognizes/sanctifies the basic life-creating function of human sexuality. Marriage creates the nuclear family which generates children, nurtures them, and thereby sustains the culture itself. The nuclear family is the best environment in which to raise those children while it also prolongs the life span and general health of mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers who remain faithful to it. Research studies prove it.

The counterculture’s “Sexual Revolution” has resulted in a divorce rate of more than fifty percent, and that figure doesn’t take into account cohabiting couples who join and split with dizzying frequency. An offshoot of the Sexual Revolution - the “Gay Rights” movement has further eroded traditional family life with its all-out push to redefine marriage itself - separating it completely from its primary procreating function.

The family has been so weakened that one in three children today are born to single mothers. Among blacks, it’s three out of four. The “Women’s Liberation” movement claimed “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” as if fathers were superfluous. The effect of fatherlessness is seen most tragically as increasingly violent crime among unsupervised young men. Without positive male role models in the form of fathers who protected and supported their wives and children, the young men (especially young black men) didn’t learn respect for women either. Their hip-hop subculture treats them as if they were sex slaves.

The biggest issue pushed by the Women’s Movement - another counterculture creation - has been abortion. Liberal women’s groups spend most of their political capital promoting abortion. Feminists, as they call themselves, seem to believe American women cannot lead fulfilling lives unless they’re able to abort their babies. More than forty million have been aborted since abortion was legalized - first in liberal states, then in the whole nation by 1973.

The counterculture’s assault on the American family occurred simultaneously with the Johnson Administration’s “War on Poverty” initiatives. Fatherless families were subsidized heavily and they proliferated for decades, pushing them further into poverty rather than lifting them out of it. The results have been nearly lethal for the “traditional family life” as the history books call it. The black family had been making steady gains for a hundred years before the Johnson Administration attempted to “fix” it. Now it’s in the roughest shape since before Emancipation.

The sixties counterculture arbitrarily tossed out lessons learned from millennia of human experience and “liberated” itself from all societal constraints as if that were a wonderful thing. Talk about hubris! Liberal Democrat baby boomers think all this has been terrific. History textbooks written so far seem to agree with them.

This history teacher, however, begs to differ.


Garnet said...

"Wait a minute!" Garnet exclaims as she flips back to blog of week-before-last, "Inconsistancy alert! There it is...'Most thought it was negative or neutral - negative...' (the 12 sentence text-book summary of the 60s counter-culture, that is) AND YET this blog ends with 'Liberal Democrat baby boomers think all this has been terrific. History textbooks written so far seem to agree with them.'

"Negative, neutral/negative = terrific?"

Tom McLaughlin said...

In the first column on the sixties, it was my students who thought the text's depiction of hippies, called members of the "counterculture" was neutral or negative because, they said, it alluded to drug use. The above column represents my take on the paragraph.

If you don't like the first two, you're probably not going to like the third one either. Stay tuned.