Why We’re In the Mess We’re In

June 10, 2020 Updated: June 12, 2020

Commentary

Many are trying to figure out how things went so wrong in our country, how so many of our young (and old) people—politicians, entertainers and media notable among them—are clamoring for such absurdities as defunding the police when 18 people were murdered in Chicago last weekend alone.

I’m not.

I have suspected I knew the most important reason long before the latest outburst of this madness, with undoubtedly more to come.

No, it’s not Donald Trump or the derangement syndrome thereof. This began long before Trump was president or even a guest on the Howard Stern Show.

And it’s not police brutality, which has been on the wane for decades, as anyone slightly interested in the facts knows.

The same goes for racism, which had been diminishing rapidly until Obama got elected and has only bumped up recently as a means to power enhanced by the explanation I am about to give.

No, the real cause, shall we say the uber-cause, is what I call Sixties Envy—and I, a card-burning member of that generation, am among those responsible.

Mea culpa, and then some.

Ever since our generation “turned on, tuned in and dropped out” in Dr. Timothy Leary’s 1966 words, everyone, or nearly everyone, too many anyway, have wanted in on the fun. Or what was supposed to have been fun.

They heard the stories from their older siblings, or their parents, now even their grandparents, plus their uncles, aunts, and whoever else:

The Sixties were so cool! Sex, drugs and rock ’n roll! Woodstock!

Who wouldn’t want to be part of that? And demonstrating was the key part, the “moral” part that excused everything else, all the excesses, as we chanted in unison: “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh/Viet Cong is gonna win!” “Hey, hey, LBJ/How many kids did you kill today?” and, of course, the ever-popular “Off the pig!”

“Off the pig!” Sound familiar? Not quite “Dead cops now” but close. Marx, almost right for once, famously said, “History repeats itself. The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”

Only this second time isn’t really so farcical and may end up more of a tragedy if we’re not careful.

As for how much fun the first version was, I had the proverbial bird’s eye view. My Dartmouth college roommate was one of Leary’s original LSD test cases at Harvard. A year after graduation, a brilliant grad student in semantics at Columbia, my roomie’s car flew off the road when he and the driver were high on acid. He ended up a paraplegic who, not long thereafter, committed suicide.

Another view came a few years later, when I was a very lucky young screenwriter and—to my shame—in my early version of white guilt became a small financier of the Black Panther breakfast program. I did this until I discovered the two of my contacts were heroin dealers and one was wanted for assault with a deadly weapon.

Which leads me to the present day because the line from the Black Panther Party to Black Lives Matter is pretty direct. Both are in essence black separatist Marxist-Leninist groups with BLM adding a contemporary LGBTQ spin.

I would imagine the BLM guys and gals look back with nostalgia to the good old days of the Panthers, just as Antifa can look back to a host of groups including the California Communist League, a few of whose meetings I attended, mostly out of curiosity (thank God).

Those meetings had an apocalyptic tone about them as the leader warned those who didn’t join up with the (promised and immediate) revolution their absence would be remembered and they would be in serious trouble soon. He did this to the tune of John Fogerty’s “There’s a Bad Moon Arising,” newly released in 1969.

Tradition, as the song goes from “Fiddler”—it’s a big thing. But being cool is bigger yet. And the great thing about being cool is that you don’t have to do much but demonstrate. You certainly don’t have to work.

So you will excuse me if I look at today’s demonstrations as if I were in a time warp. In the words of Yogi Berra, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

But there is a difference. At least back in the sixties and seventies there was something to protest about. The Vietnam War, like it or not, was real.

What’s going on now is not. Racism—already all but disappeared to the extent it ever could be, until recently—is conjured up and defined, for purposes that are in essence evil, as something that can never go away, that is indelible. We are all culpable forever—and don’t you forget it.

People of my generation, incredibly, go supine over this, take knees and so forth. You know who they are. Some are leaders of great power. What strikes me as a possibility is that these are the very people who stood aside during the sixties, who didn’t participate and looked on with envy at all the goings on. They are now getting their chance.

They have Sixties Envy just as BLM and Antifa do, though in a yet more pathetic manner.

Too bad for the rest of us.

Roger L. Simon is a prize-winning author and an Oscar-nominated screenwriter. His most recent books are “I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already” (non-fiction) and “The GOAT” (fiction).

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.