This being the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Summer of Love, I've noticed a lot of newspaper and magazine articles extolling the virtues of the mid-60s and, to be fair, a few that have actually questioned them.
I imagine this is due to a couple of factors. One would be that most editors of larger dailies and magazines are in their 50s and were teenagers during the heyday of that chaotic time. The second is that baby boomers are by far the most self-absorbed generation that has ever walked on planet Earth and the mid-1960s was the time when they were coming into their own. Those who can remember anything about those days, I'm sure, remember how they were busy changing the world.
Being born in 1965, the first post-baby boom year, means I basically missed out on the 60s. Instead of LSD, free love and the most creative period of rock and roll, I got the AIDS scare, disco and Reagan's War on Drugs. My memories of the 60s are largely restricted to the moon landing and watching teenagers smoke pot (though I didn't know that that was what it was) on front porch of our New Jersey home because my parents were nice enough to let them stand there if it was raining while waiting for their school bus.
I'm not really bitter about missing out. I grew up with the music and, despite Reagan, managed to indulge most of my curiousities about drugs when I was a teen. Could have used some of that free love but AIDS wasn't the 60s fault...
What I don't like about the 60s legacy is the ongoing concept that the protest and social change movements of the day are applicable today. If anything the opposite is true: the leftover hippies and those they have influenced have become the far-left and the far-left quashes free speech and supports horrible political systems around the world. They do this because they have somehow arrived at the incredibly misguided conclusion that their lives are more sacred than everyone else's lives and that appeasement, no matter how grotesque, is better suited to dealing with problems than ever using our armaments in anger.
Much of the media is a major supporter of this approach, going out of its way, for instance, to trumpet loudly every lost life while almost never publicizing the good that is coming out of efforts in places like Afghanistan or that could come out of Iraq if the US were allowed to deal with the terrorist elements and their supporters properly. The other places where the leftist culture of the 60s flourish include our universities which, perhaps more than any other single institution, has allowed the dippy part of hippie to take centre stage, churning out generations of far-left mush heads who didn't even need acid to get that way.
Forty years on, the world is a much changed place. Most of those people have probably given up smoking pot and sleeping around. A few may even have traded in their Bob Dylan albums for, well, Bob Dylan CDs. But, unfortunately, the political hangover continues and it's strangling our growth in horrible ways. It is time we buried the 60s alongside Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.