Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Counterculture through Misty Eyes

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Counterculture through Misty Eyes

Article excerpt

When the enemy was Ronald Reagan, the liberals were sitting pretty. Oh sure, they reasoned, he could bamboozle a majority of the country's voters once every four years, but that was because the Democrats nominated such incompetents. Besides, the guy was a former actor.

Liberals never believed that the country was really with Reagan. Today, it is different. Seventy-three new House Republicans can't all be good actors with friendly grins. The suspicion has been aroused in liberal circles that the '94 election had something to do with ideas.

The New York Times is not amused and, indeed, has felt impelled to defend the indefensible. In an extraordinary editorial titled "In Praise of the Counterculture," the Times (inadvertently) provided a perfect, textbook example of what makes liberals so unpopular.

The Newtonians are attempting to turn the word "counterculture" into a pejorative, fumed the Times. "Only a few periods in American history have seen such a rich fulfillment of the informing ideals of personal freedom and creativity that lie at the heart of the American intellectual tradition. . . . The '60s spawned a new morality-based politics that emphasized the individual's responsibility to speak out against injustice and corruption."

Doesn't that sound familiar? Can't you just smell the incense when you read rhetoric like that? A "new morality-based politics"?

What was new about it? Has the Times never heard of the abolition movement? Plenty of Americans gave their lives for it. Or what about the Progressive Era? What motivated the reformers who outlawed child labor and established settlement houses? And what about Prohibition? Was Carrie Nation a tool of big business, or was she a moral crusader?

The abolitionists, the progressives, the prohibitionists and many more would be surprised to hear that morality entered the political realm only in 1965.

And what was the great moral content of the counterculture? Of what did this "morality-based politics" consist? As I recall, it often amounted to burning the notes of college professors, shouting down speakers with whom the mob disagreed, engaging in a great deal of sex, glorifying drugs and supporting a brutal communist regime with whom the United States was then at war. …

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