America is still suffering the horrible consequences of hippies who thought utopia could be found in joints and intentional disconnect.
~ TED NUGENT
It has been 45 years since the Summer of Love and those unlovable right-wingnut
Republicans, led by their knuckle-dragging shoot 'em up poster boy, are
waging class warfare anew against a favorite target. But is it possible
that gun-loving, Obama hating Ted Nugent has a point?
The Summer of Love actually began in January 1967 with the first Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco (photo) and ended with the Death of the Hippie March in Haight Ashbury in October of that year. In
between, tens of thousands of high school and college kids drawn by media and
first-hand accounts of the birth of the so-called hippie counterculture
poured into the city.
" . . . [I]ts creators did not employ a single publicist or craft a media plan," writes Sheila Weller in an occasionally overwrought essay in the July issue of Vanity Fair. "Yet the phenomenon washed over America like a tidal wave, erasing the last dregs of the martini-sipping Mad Men era and ushering in a series of liberations and awakenings that irreversibly changed our way of life."
Yes, I was part of the horde, although I spent most of my brief stay across the bay in Berkeley, which also was awash in free dope, free love, free music and free lentil loaf.
This from a 2007 Wall Street Journal op-ed piece by Nugent, who in his unrelenting bottom crawling recently declared that "I will either be dead or in jail" if Obama is re-elected:
off by the work ethic and productive American Dream values of their
parents, hippies instead opted for a cowardly, irresponsible lifestyle
of random sex, life-destroying drugs and mostly soulless rock music that
flourished in San Francisco. . . . The bodies of chemical-infested, brain-dead liberal deniers continue to stack up like cordwood.
. . . The 1960s, a generation that wanted to hold hands, give peace a
chance, smoke dope and change the world, changed it all right: for the
Wring the hyperbole from Nugent's
purple prose and he makes a very serious allegation: Those wild and
crazy Sixties ushered in an era of moral decay that my generation has
infected America with from family room to factory floor.
If you think you know where I come down on this, you might be surprised that I don't entirely disagree with Nugent, although the kernels of truth in what he says are obscured by his rank blunderbussing.
kernel of truth is that the Summer of Love and flowering of the
counterculture was open season for people who were more adept at
changing hash pipe screens than their kids' diapers, let alone the
world. This is where I do have a real problem. Driving a VW
Beetle until it runs out of oil and blows up is one thing, but screwing
up your kids' lives is another. And unforgivable even under the most
lax standards of the time.
vast majority of people who rode the counterculture wave have turned
out just fine and arguably better than the right-wing crackpots who are
hung up about anyone who won't worship their God, play by their rules
and doesn't share their recidivistic intellectual constipation.
of us have indeed tried to make the world a better place and succeeded
in many small ways. This is because the experience of the Summer of Love and what followed made us more curious,
more compassionate, more humble and . . . well, more human.
have known a few of the disreputable slacker types, although there is something about
human nature that has empowered most of their kids to shun their
parents' behavior and grow up to lead comparatively normal lives.
Having dealt with that kernel, let's move on to the big nut: My
circle of friends from that era – the folks who went on the road with
me to like really far out Grateful Dead concerts, man -- are for more typical of the era.
became a pediatrician, one a dentist, one a public defender, one a
nurse, one a gourmet chef, one a building contractor and two school
teachers. All have given back more than they have taken, and all have
voted in every election, given to charities, done volunteer work, tried
hard to be good parents and helped care for their
parents when they became infirm. Yes, one of them died of acute
alcoholism, but I believe that he was genetically hard wired for the disease and
would have suffered the same fate no matter when he had come of age.
There is one more kernel of truth:
Nugent doesn't address it head on, I suspect that many graduates of the
counterculture have been remiss in not being candid about their own
experiences with their children when the time comes to talk about stuff
like sexuality and drugs.
I come down somewhere in between,
although I have been unrelenting in passing on a message that I took to
heart in the Sixties: Listen to your elders. Listen to public officials
and politicians. But decide what is true and right for you.
Colorized photograph, original by Jim Marshall, via Vanity Fair