Location: Granite Falls, North Carolina, United States

I'm an ordained United Methodist minister no longer pastoring churches, a former media producer with skills ten years out of date, a writer trying to sell my first novel, and a sales associate keeping body and soul together working for the People's Republic of Corporate America. I'm married to the most wonderful woman in the world, who was my best friend for 17 years before we married.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Reflecting on 1968

Last night I watched the documentary, "1968" that we recorded Sunday night. A couple of thoughts come to mind.

First, that was the year I had my "Vickie moment." Vickie was a grad student in Music when I worked at the music library on campus at Carolina. Everybody loved her, because she was as sweet as she was beautiful. Her fiance was a lieutenant in Vietnam. I was going through an existential crises during the later months of 1967 and the early months of 1968. I had been in Air Force ROTC, and I had favored a strong military solution for the Vietnam war. I even stood in a pro-war vigil once. But I was beginning to have doubts. I was beginning to wonder if everything I had believed about the war was true. I stopped calling myself a hawk and called myself a vulture instead.

Then Vickie walked into the music library wearing a "McCarthy" button. Gene McCarthy was running for President on the anti-war platform. It hit me that if Vickie could support McCarthy while her fiance was fighting in Vietnam, then I could, too. I could oppose the war and be at peace with my conscience. I became an ardent anti-war activist, and I never let up until the troops came home. BTW, I never knew anyone who ever spit on a veteran. No one. I also never knew anyone in the anti-war movement who ever took Jane Fonda seriously, either.

Now it bothers me when people I'm close to, people I love, mindlessly parrot all the Fox "News" talking points. I never expected anyone in my family to turn into a dittohead. I pray every day that those I love will have their own "Vickie moments."

Now, about the documentary itself, it was good that Tom Brokaw brought a former student protester and a former Chicago cop together to talk about the disturbance outside the 1968 Democratic Convention in which they both participated.

I realize he also had to balance the voices of the era with those of others who didn't find the era so liberating. Pat Buchanan and some woman who writes a column for the Wall Street Journal.

Buchanan said the "silent majority" (a term he coined as a Nixon speechwriter) turned to the Republicans because of the protests on college campuses. I seriously doubt that. I think it was more the fact that the Nixon campaign appealed to their fears (giving those fears the faces of the student radicals, perhaps, but fears nonetheless) and their hatreds. The famed "Southern strategy" was nothing less than a naked appeal to the endemic racism in the South. Buchanan is just playing sleight-of-hand by saying what he did.

The woman from the WSJ talked about the women of the Women's Liberation movement (and the protesters in the anti-war movement) as being rich spoiled brats who were just playing at their protests. Well, I was not a rich kid who indulged in my protests at the expense of a big parental bank account. I grew up on a subsistence dairy farm, and my parents never had a big surplus when it came to money. So I was fighting for my ideals, my beliefs, and my Christian faith. No, the indulged rich kids are the frat boys who are in Washington now, making all kinds of scary noises about nonexistence threats so they can continue sending OTHER people's children into war while ignoring the real threats from the real terrorists.

And as Forrest Gump said, "That's all I've got to say about that." (For now.)


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