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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 6/7/10

A Not-so-Great Generation Meets what They Wrought

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Message Margaret Bassett
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Why the confusion now? A look back to the 60s' cultural revolution in most living rooms, one would find relationships just as tangled then. Age alone was not the determinant. At times it was almost like siblings in opposite paths. So with a new administration and a president born at the end of an 18-year span, what can the future promise?

When Pearl Harbor happened I was completing the first semester of my sophomore college year. Except for accident of gender, I would have been long gone from Iowa City. Many college men did not wait for the draft to call their number, because they felt volunteering would give them a better shot at Officers' Candidate School. I spent most of my college years with about 100 civilian men enrolled--they, foreign students or disabled.

Despite segregation of the sexes women were dedicated to being helpful in the war effort. I carried ice water to thirsty patients in the University Hospital and took my turn to leave off a pint of blood when asked. There were military training units taking up facilities, Pre-Flight Officers Training School being one. Undoubtedly some such school is where George H. W. Bush got his start.

Finally the day of bells and whistles came. I already held reservations to visit family before starting a new job in Washington D.C. The toot on the power plant at the Engineering Building was mixed with churches ringing jubilantly. For the next two days I subsisted on dry sandwiches sold by the local hotel since all stores were closed. Such started a new way of life in the US.

GIs got extra points in applying for a government job. They of course had college benefits and cheaper interest to buy homes. All of this was to make up for their sacrifice. Babies soon followed. Baby Boomers were those born from 1946 to 1964. By the time the late Sixties got under way we saw that things would be different. For one, Boomers were not of one mind. In general, the group who grew up in comfortable "ticky tacky" homes had an easy enough childhood that they could afford to sow a few wild oats in places like Haight Asbury. Children of parents who did not land on Easy Street were more likely to look for college, not just to stay out of the draft but to have a better start than their families had. Protests came because of Rotsy (ROTC). military research grants, and wholesale killing of their peers.

World War II veterans like Senators Kennedy and Nixon made brownie points on the campaign trail by touting their service records. In the case of the above mentioned men, their timing was determined as much by slim vote margins as it was by their argumentation over prevention of communist influence.

We would like to think that most Boomers ended up in office after campaigning for better recovery from the war. In fact Red Scare was the fear factor of the time.

Watergate, as a caper, was a way to think about where the frenzy would lead. Ultimately only quick fixes were put in to keep the Intelligence Community in the drivers' seat. The National Security Agency was started by President Truman. FISA rules were spawned by the Church Committee. Already a nod to 18-year old men, a constitutional amendment, had helped to assuage their concerns about future wars. Canceling the draft for a volunteer army was in response to "the movement." The Army could now reasonably consist of those too poor for college, or too unskilled for worthwhile employment. Thus we stand at the year 2010 with an entirely different comparison between Obama's Afghanistan and the Johnson/Nixon quagmire of Viet Nam. To make matters worse women wanted equality. Now comes a time when we have fewer men and women on the street to mind the stores, the kids, the local communities.

This is background to some of the dirtiest infighting since the mid Forties. The short word is McCarthyism. What happened then between such actors as Hiss and Chambers, or between Nixon and more sane civilians is still to be analyzed. In a background against "the Soviet problem."

Could I ask the reader/writer here to do me a favor?

Would you tell us what McCarthyism means to you? It's my opinion we will not get past the futile carping over persons like Palin and Beck until we delve into that part of history. While mamas and papas were building their nests, there were those in Washington out to eradicate a hornet's nest too virulent to handle. To this day comes a rebuttal against Russian socialism, communism--or sometimes Bankers' capitalism.

Please give meaning to modern rants and whines. And remember to think about how we turned on each other long before Dick Cheney was ready to add his tactics.
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Margaret Bassett passed away August 21, 2011. She was a treasured member of the editorial team for four years.

Margaret Bassett--OEN editor--is an 89-year old, currently living in senior housing, with a lifelong interest in political philosophy. Bachelors from State University of Iowa (1944) and Masters from Roosevelt University (1975) help to unravel important requirements for modern communication. Early introduction to computer science (1966) trumps them. It's payback time. She's been "entitled" so long she hopes to find some good coming off the keyboard into the lives of those who come after her.
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