September 24, 2010
Whatever Happened to the Counterculture?By Carol Peracchio
What a long, strange trip it's been.
In the 1960s, young people, moved by opposition to the Vietnam War, rebelled against the values of their parents' generation in what came to be known as the "Counterculture." They detested authority. They called policemen "pigs." They said, "Never trust anyone over 30." When the Vietnam War ended, the Counterculture as a widespread movement fizzled out. Rock music gave way to disco, and the hippies started turning 30. The vast majority of these rebels found jobs and started families. And a surprising number of them voted for Ronald Reagan.
But the political wing of the Counterculture have never left the movement; they dressed in mufti and live on in our top universities, the courts, Hollywood, and the Democratic Party. They are most visible in the mainstream media, where their worldview is on display 24/7.
In a brilliant strategic move, the Ruling Class absorbed the Counterculture and ceded to them the network news, the editorial pages of almost all the major newspapers, Hollywood, and the Ivy League. (How else does one explain the elevation of a domestic terrorist, William Ayers, to the pinnacle of the education elite in America?) One of the first victories of the post-1960s Counterculture was the downfall of President Richard Nixon. That was okay with the Ruling Class. They never liked Tricky Dick anyways.
By controlling the universities and the media, the Counterculture was able to flourish. They read only each other's writing, attended only each other's classes, and watched only each other's movies. They quickly lost any connection to the American culture they had rebelled against in the first place. From the safety of the their coastal strongholds they reassured each other of the rightness and brilliance of their thinking. Their ideas became more and more inbred as they practiced the apartheid of elite liberalism. As far as conservatives were concerned, it was separate but definitely not equal.
The Ruling Class/Counterculture presents a perfect illustration of political ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is defined as "[t]he belief in the inherent superiority of one's own ethnic group or culture. A tendency to view alien groups or cultures from the perspective of one's own."
They consider themselves members of the dominant culture, and as such, they evaluate the culture and ideals of conservatives from a position of perceived superiority. Political ethnocentrism extends beyond the condescension and disdain shown to Tea Partiers. The Counterculture does not merely consider conservative views to be inferior; they have no idea what those views are. When it comes to understanding the beliefs and behavior of average Americans, today's Counterculture is absolutely clueless. Every conclusion they draw, every opinion they spout, is wrong.
When Barack Obama was elected, the Counterculture was beyond ecstatic. Nirvana had been reached. Utopia had arrived. So when Tea Partiers began protesting the president's agenda, the Counterculture stared at them like a British colonial official coming upon a strange new tribe -- as if America had been invaded by an alien people who spoke a bizarre language with words like "the Constitution" and "freedom" and "personal responsibility."
On April 15, 2009, millions of Americans gathered across the country to protest the runaway spending and skyrocketing debt of the new administration. In an exchange at an Illinois Tea Party, a CNN reporter asked a man why he was there. He began his answer by bringing up Lincoln and liberty. The reporter interrupted him, asking, "What does that have to do with taxes?" and "Do you realize the Land of Lincoln will be getting 50 billion dollars from the stimulus?"
No clue whatsoever. She didn't merely disagree with the man. She couldn't understand what he was saying.
When Senator Ted Kennedy passed away, the gulf between the Ruling Class/Counterculture and the rest of America was as big as the Grand Canyon. The media spent days memorializing the "Lion of the Senate." His funeral was broadcast live. His widow was featured prominently at President Obama's health care speech to a joint session of Congress. In that speech, the president invoked Ted Kennedy in an attempt to sway Americans toward favoring universal health care: "And he [Kennedy] expressed confidence that this would be the year that health care reform -- "that great unfinished business of our society," he called it -- would finally pass."
But average Americans stubbornly refused to canonize ol' Ted. They couldn't care less that health care reform was Kennedy's greatest dream. The average American, you see, never forgot Chappaquiddick. The Counterculture, on the other hand, considered Mary Jo Kopechne's death in Ted Kennedy's car an unfortunate blip in a distinguished liberal career. The president went on in his speech to laud Kennedy's "large-heartedness -- that concern and regard for the plight of others." Average Americans wondered where that "concern and regard" was in July 1969.
Examples of the political ethnocentrism of today's Counterculture abound. Every day, their political pundits and mainstream media discuss the Tea Party: What drives them? Why are they angry? Are they motivated by racism? The hilarious aspect of these discussions is that they take place only within the Counterculture itself.
We're left with the ridiculous sight of News Anchor A exchanging erroneous impressions with Liberal Columnist B while Democrat Activist C nods in solemn agreement. (Tune in any weekday morning to an MSNBC show called "Morning Joe.") Sarah Palin is stupid! Christine O'Donnell is crazy! The Tea Partiers hate Obama because he's black! The roundtables on Meet the Press remind me of the dialogue between the two main characters in the movie The Blue Lagoon. Shipwrecked on an island since they were children, their knowledge of the world outside their tropical paradise was composed only of hazy memories from years earlier. The Counterculture is similarly ignorant of the world outside the studio or classroom. Their knowledge of America is frozen in time in The Summer of Love in 1967. The sad part is that their ignorance and isolation is self-imposed.
I realize that the November elections are deadly serious. But isn't it amusing to watch the Counterculture sputter in stupefaction as poll after poll sounds a warning of an approaching electoral tsunami? What delicious irony: the expressions on the faces of today's media elite mirror exactly the bewilderment of the college administrators as these same Counterculture protesters staged sit-ins and shut down campuses.
What do they want? Why are they so angry? We don't understand them!
Carol Peracchio is a registered nurse.