By Alan Caruba
While watching the Tony Awards Sunday evening, a portion of the show included an excerpt from the revival of “Hair”, a Broadway show devoted to the excesses of the 1960s when words like “hippie” became part of the national vocabulary.
By the 1960s I had already graduated college and served in the U.S. Army. I was a journalist at the time so I had opportunities to observe and report upon various events and personalities of the era. I was in my twenties, but I recall being appalled by the ethos of a new generation that abandoned all the traditional values that most Americans shared at the time.
I thought then and now that the hippies represented an immaturity and irresponsibility that one associates with the worst aspects of adolescence. The Tony Awards segment only reaffirmed my feelings and I found it no less offensive than when the show first offered its view of America, the use of illegal drugs, the so-called sexual revolution, and other justifications for refusing to grow up.
Admittedly, I liked some of the songs and so did much of the nation. When it opened on Broadway in April 1968 several of the songs became top forty hits. A film adaptation was released in 1979. The revival opened on Broadway on March 31, 2009 and was embraced once again by the critics, mostly likely for its anti-war theme which was originally focused on the war in Vietnam and now fits in with opposition to the war in Iraq that helped get Barack Obama elected.
It seems to me that the 1960s marked some invisible line between the America that held strong, patriotic and traditional values, and a unity that has not existed since then. While only a handful of those growing up during that decade became hippies, those that did bequeathed a tolerance for drugs that became a social problem that remains to this day.
The 1960s was a decade of incredible turmoil, occurring as it did when the Civil Rights movement hit full stride. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and not long after Sen. Robert Kennedy was assassinated by a Palestinian immigrant.
While plunging deeper into the Vietnam War, Lyndon Johnson let loose a “Great Society” series of programs in the name of helping the poor and the disadvantaged, along with the inevitably slothful members of society who can never be counted upon to work.
Barack Obama is attempting to do the same today, issuing “stimulus” checks and massive government-run takeovers and programs instead of allowing the free market system to correct itself as it always has.
In 1973, the Supreme Court legalized abortion, a form of license for “free love.” Forced busing in the name of equality became the law, quotas made their way into the workplace and colleges in the name of “fairness”, but consuming everyone’s attention was the Vietnam War.
“Hair” was about not wanting to fight that war, about “dropping out and tuning in” as the drug culture became a permanent part of the American scene, but mostly it was and is about self-indulgence as characterized by letting one’s hair grow long. The musical’s characters pursued the "bohemian" life in New York.
The America in which I had grown up was characterized as a bad place.
I didn’t like much about the 1960s and I had to live through it. The 1970s was no picnic either. It featured the one-term idiocy of Jimmy Carter.
For a brief respite, Ronald Reagan reintroduced a mature approach to the way a great nation must behave, but he was replaced by the feckless Bill Clinton whose Oval Office antics tainted the role of the presidency. A no-nonsense former Texas Governor took over. After 9/11, we got through until now unscathed because he was not inclined to be nice to our enemies. For this, he was vilified by Democrats and those who supported Barack Obama.
The youth-oriented culture of the 1960s has returned in the person of Barack Obama who got elected by opposing the war in Iraq and promising “hope and change”.
The bill has come due for the financial excesses of the previous decade, as much the mark of immature, reckless behavior as anything else by those who came of age in the 1960s.
Obama is the worst combination of LBJ, Carter, and Clinton. Much of the cloying media treat him like a rock star.
The nation is on the threshhold of abandoning the vision of its Founding Fathers and the dictates of the U.S. Constitution. Driving that transformation is a narcissistic man-child and an ideologically besotted Congress that refuses to acknowledge the laws and truths of science, economics, and the reason America came into being; the focus on individual liberty backed up by a limited federal government.
It is not the Age of Aquarius. It never was.