My Generation is Different…NOT

First I must mention that if one insists on dividing up the population by “generations” and attributing to those generations titles and unique characteristics, then I am without a generation.  I was born between the Boom and the Bust, and well before the alphabet soup.  My group has been called Boomers (incorrectly), Bust-ers (also incorrectly, as one year of the “bust” included the largest number of births recorded up to that time), the Envelope generation, the Cuspers, and Generation Jones.

As both Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden are/were of Generation Jones, it’s hard to assign a set of characteristics to my bunch.  Like every other generation, we are as varied as the sun and moon.  If anything we do tend to be slightly more spiritual than our predecessors the Boomers, and slightly less materialistic than whatever part of the alphabet soup it was that followed us.  But again, I said those differences are slight if they exist at all.

Now let’s go back a bit, to the anti-war protests of the 1960’s and early 1970’s.  Yes, we have to go here, because Fox News is trying to paint the Occupy movement as consisting of the same sort of people.  You will see why it does not.  You will also see why it is not a generational thing, and why embracing that notion is stupid and dangerous.

It’s hard to conduct a survey 40 years after the fact (particularly difficult when the media coverage at the time was as almost, but not quite as skewed as it is today), but the anti-war “peace and free love” movement of the 60’s/70’s seems to have consisted largely of college students.  I may be wrong, but I believe that at the beginning of the Vietnam war college men were exempt from the draft, and at some point that exemption was ended and that’s when the campus protests started.  If that’s not the case, they may have been protesting because if they flunked out of college, or graduated, all of a sudden they were eligible for the draft again.

Before that, Vietnam had been a “rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight,” much as all wars had been to that point (in fact, I believe that quote may be from the time of the U.S. Civil War).

In short, it was easy to paint all the protesters in one large brushstroke with the words “spoiled brats,” and the media did just that.  The protesters ended up hated and marginalized (although their fashion sense made some marketers a lot of money and that continues to this day), and the sharp divisions caused by this newfangled generational ghetto persist even now.  In fact, to hear some people talk, you’d think that actual hippies from the 1960’s have somehow been magically resurrected, their youth intact, and are out on the streets protesting again.  Damn hippies!

Much as today, college was far from a universal experience, and it was expensive.  Quite different from today, and largely because of the unions, one didn’t need to be a banker, lawyer or doctor to make enough money to buy a house and a car and raise a family, often on one salary alone.  The middle class was alive and well.

And so the protests of that era were confined largely to college boys who did not want to go to war, rebellious middle-class kids who hated suburbia, and a few of the actual poor people who got stuck fighting the war.  As I said, it was a protest defined by generational divides that were heavily promoted in the media and swallowed whole by the protesters themselves in the conceited belief that yes, the Baby Boomers were different.

It was also, keep in mind, something that pitted the young protesters against the unions, who were very conservative at the time, jealously guarding that middle class they had created — that middle class that some of the kids were rebelling against.

Then the war ended and so did the protests, and the next thing you knew, Generation Jones was being labeled as the most conservative generation in history.  I wasn’t that way before the label and have never been since.  I do know that a lot of my friends, both young and old, have become brainlessly conservative out of fear of losing their middle-class status (which most have, anyway).   But it’s not all of us by far.

Some of the protesting Boomers and a few of my generation went on to become bankers, lawyers, politicians and marketers, and they strove to stamp out the unions and the middle class.  From the marketers we got an endless alphabet soup of newly-created and supposedly unique generations, all in the effort to sell stuff.  And as time went by, I couldn’t help noticing that all these new generations were as indistinguishable from one another as the Joneses had been from the Boomers and probably all the generations before.

Why?  Because human beings are divided by types of experience (and the ability to clearly recall experience), not by some mythical generational gizmo that, every 5 years or so, magically creates brand new, shiny, sparkly beings to sell things to.

This brings us to the Occupy movement.

As I understand it, the Occupy movement represents the 99%.  The 99% are not all of one generation unless there was some huge, unnoticed baby boom about 20 years ago accompanied by an equally massive and unnoticed die-off of elders.

Fox News and others are trying to paint the Occupy movement as identical to the anti-war movement of 40 years ago, with some success among those of us old enough to remember the protests, but not the details.  Unfortunately,there are a fair number of those.

And lately, some of the Occupy folks are not only playing right into the stereotype, but supporting it.

I’ve noticed this twice on Facebook recently.  With the first incident (blaming all people of my generation for the economic condition of their generation), I managed to argue back successfully.  With the second incident, where someone who runs a Facebook group called something like “organization for educating misinformed Tea Party patriots” posted an almost INCREDIBLY ageist slogan and then was pretty awful to the people who protested, I threw up my hands and quietly un-subbed.

I have some questions for people like this: why is it so chic to rage against those who bully gays, minorities, etc., and then turn around and be an ageist twit?  And do you have one shred of proof that EVERYONE born more than 20 years before you is in the hated 1%?  If you do, I’d like to see it.  And I’d like to see the money, because I have never had much.

And I have another question: what guarantee do you have that your “generation” won’t turn around in another 20 years and plunge the world into yet another economic crisis with their selfishness?  There is no guarantee.

Remember, people are not divided by some mythical generational calendar invented in a marketing department.  People are divided by experience.  It’s harder to sell to experience (which is why marketers hate experience and hate older people who have it).  But it’s easy to learn from it, even if the experience is not your own, if you will only try.

The biggest lesson to remember is NOT to let Fox News and others make the definitions.  The hated 1960’s hippie protester stereotype does not apply here.  Don’t fall for any attempt to make it stick.

Life in La-La-Land

Of course Michele Bachman isn’t going to win the Republican Presidential nomination, but every day I am more and more convinced that even after getting soundly bounced out of the race in the primaries, she’ll show up for work at the Capitol on January 20, 2013 — and not in the audience, either.  She shows no signs of realizing that she’s not only out of touch with the vast majority in the U.S., but even those crazy enough to support her are mostly supporting things like Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul instead.

Then again, I must applaud her consistency.  It’s apparent that she doesn’t know the truth from a lie, and this is extending to her Presidential campaign.

Not to be forgotten is the unintentionally humorous undertone of her entire campaign, which only starts with her husband announcing his plans to stamp out homosexuals and women’s rights when he becomes First Lady.  The material is endless.  Of course, she hasn’t quite gone to the insane extent of Gingrich yet (let’s stamp out the judiciary!) but that’s probably only because she has no grasp of the structure of government to begin with.

So again, I await January 20, 2013 with some eagerness.  I wonder what she’ll wear to “her” inauguration.

The Requisite “War on Christmas” Post

First I must give credit to Fox News for creating an issue out of nothing.  I do this just before wishing them all the rotten karma in the world.  Because they created this problem, now commentators like myself have to comment on it.  F*$) you Fox News.

But seriously…

As I’ve said frequently in the past, I work with the pubic.  I haven’t mentioned that I work with a very DIVERSE public.  The company is in a wealthy, white-bread neighborhood, but the clientele is extremely diverse (and divided) in terms of religion.  This colors my view on this faux “War on Christmas” outrage.

You see, a large portion of the clientele is Jewish.  A sizable minority are Muslim.  Even among the Christians, there are all sorts of denominations.

Some Jews are not happy about what they view as Christmas decor in our establishment, and several times a season I have to deal with their barely-concealed rage.  In one remarkable incident, I had to deal with a  kid (who had clearly been coached) demanding to know why we didn’t have any Hanukkah decorations.  Much more commonly these folks protest by marching through the place saying the word “Hanukkah” as often and as loudly as they can.

On the other side of the issue, and with much  bigger mouths, are people (almost always elderly males), who find the decor offensive because it’s not religious, and that awful holiday music intolerable because it doesn’t mention the baby Jesus.  I hear from one of them almost every friggin’ day during this season.

Thank you, Fox News, for this latter group.  I wouldn’t know if I still had my hearing intact without them yammering in my ears.

Mostly they become upset over the non-issue of being addressed with “Happy Holidays,” instead of the very risky “Merry Christmas.”  I’ve got news for them that I’m sure Fox News hasn’t delivered: “HAPPY HOLIDAYS” MEANS “HAPPY HOLY DAYS.”  It’s only (possibly) an insult if you are NOT RELIGIOUS.

Here are some other inconvenient facts: It is unlikely that Jesus was born on December 25.  However, as it happens, December 25 coincides with various Pagan observances (which are usually focused on the winter solstice), so it’s quite likely that Christmas was INVENTED to distract newly-converted Pagans from their old solstice celebrations.

The other day on a social site, a friend posted one of those “war on Christmas” diatribes that get passed around this time of year, with the usual coda: “if you want to keep Christ in Christmas, share this on your wall!”  To my surprise, she was immediately and sharply corrected by another friend of hers about the authenticity of Christmas.  But she didn’t back down entirely.  “I just am so unhappy that so many people are forgetting about God,” she countered.

And I thought, “Yes dear…just look at Walmart on Black Friday.”

The fact is that Christmas is NOT a religious holiday for Christians.  Never was.  Even the sainted Pilgrims outlawed Christmas celebrations because they felt so strongly about this.

It is, however, a holiday in the more light-hearted sense of the word.  It may nowadays be about little more than mass consumption, but it is a holiday.  And so in my mind, especially while working in a very diverse neighborhood, “Happy Holidays” will suffice.  It provides a safe haven during a time of the year when it seems more and more people are looking for excuses to feel sorry for themselves. “O, tidings of comfort and joy,” indeed.

And to Fox News I dedicate that very well-known song by C.lo Green.  The original version, that is.

Let’s get a few things straight

A few things have happened recently, the gist of which went right over the heads of most of my neocon friends and all of my liberal friends.

That is to say that this post will piss everyone off.  Just thought I’d warn you in advance.  You also may like to have your epithets ready to fling at me: racist, Islamophobic, godless libberal; whatever.

The first thing that happened was that some reality show about a Muslim family was first sponsored by a national hardware store chain, among others, then un-sponsored after pressure from a neocon group, and now is being pressured from more liberal sources to go back and sponsor the show again.

The second thing that happened is that some automobile manufacturers (or maybe just one) threatened to remove themselves from Alabama because they found themselves running foul of Alabama’s new anti-illegal alien laws.  The governor of Alabama is now panicking and backtracking on his laws.

Is you’re a neocon,you’re chortling that the sponsor of the show did the right thing by withdrawing and that the governor of Alabama is a godless money whore for panicking.

If you’re a liberal you’re screaming racist, racist, racist at everyone involved in both situations, except for the corporations who were employing illegal aliens and the reality TV show’s producers.

Am I alone in catching a few problems here?

First, the reality show: why would anyone want to be on one?  Well, anyway, yes…this one was about Muslims in the U.S., or rather about a Muslim family in the U.S.

That doesn’t automatically make it right or holy, and please don’t go into all that crap about hard-working immigrants building America just before you get the goddamn Koch Brothers tissues out and start sniffling.  It’s getting old, already.  Yes, the neocons are screaming about seeing this on TV because they want to implement their own Christian version of Sharia law in the U.S. and the imagined competition just makes them nuts.  (NO I AM NO SAYING THIS MUSLIM FAMILY WAS LIVING BY SHARIA LAW THANK YOU.)  And so they yelled and screamed and got the show unsponsored.

Of course it’s racism, but it’s deeper than that: it’s a clash of cultures.  Not defending the neocons, but they are correct in guessing that many immigrants — even those that seem just like the rest of us — don’t like our culture and want to impose their own.  I shrug at that sort of thing because it is a war that all immigrants fight to some degree, and ultimately lose.

In the U.S., the greatest threat to our culture is from within.  Reference my remark about Christians a few paragraphs back.  Further, I myself was part of a drive to get Glenn Beck off of Fox News — a drive which pressured his sponsors to drop the show — so I can’t say much.

Okay, on to Alabama.  Re-read what I wrote in the automobile manufacturer paragraph.  See a problem there?

If you don’t, here it is: FOREIGN COMPANIES ARE GETTING TAX BREAKS TO PUT FACTORIES ON U.S. SOIL THAT EMPLOY ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.  Big problem there.

No! you say?  Well, do you support the 99% movement?  Part of what they’re out in the streets about is kids with college degrees being forced to work at Starbuck’s because the good jobs are going elsewhere.  But the truth is even in the U.S., we are not employing U.S. citizens.  Leave alone the fact that we are allowing foreign companies to stamp a “Made in USA” label on their products when, while their plants may be physically here, they are not really employing people from this country.

Trouble is,when I point this out, inevitably I hear from both sides about how LOUSY U.S. citizens are…usually thrown in with a charge of racism from the left and some version of “Oligarchy is Good” from the right.

Again..the danger to us is from within.  Until we take a hard look at ourselves and realize that we are continually primping with the very chains that bind us, nothing in this country is going to get any better.

And that, my friends, is the unvarnished truth.