Dick Simpson Whitewashing 60s Radicals
By: Warner Todd Huston
They always say that the passage of time sometimes dulls the memory of a person’s past, that oft times only the good memories remain. More often, though, time plus a large dollop of myth making and lies creates a whole new world out of the past. Dick Simpson is more evidence of the later than the former. In a whitewashing of the foolishness and destruction wrought by his anti-American comrades in the vaunted “summer of love,” Chicago Sun-Times columnist Simpson wonders “Can we revive ’60s-era ideals?” Surely, anyone who has a clear memory of those tumultuous days would quickly reply, “I sure hope not!”
To start with, Simpson ridiculously presents as fact at least one of the arguments for what the country “faced” in 1967 as framed by the radical leftists that formed the emerging counter culture of the 60s. He states in a factual way that the country, “faced three great crises: racial discrimination, the Vietnam War, and the imperial presidency in which all executive, legislative and judicial power was being gathered into the hands of the president.”
Now, who cannot agree with his first two issues? But that third one in retrospect is as silly as it gets. If LBJ — who was the Democrat president in 1967 and 1968, as you know — had created an “imperial presidency” in which was vested “all executive, legislative and judicial power” then why did he have to bow out of running for a second full term in the upcoming 1968 presidential election during those same years? LBJ did make a mash of Vietnam, it is true, but to imagine he had created the so-called “imperial presidency” that the country “faced” as a problem is not a rendition of the factual situation in 1967 but is merely a parroting of the uninformed opinion of the 60s hippies that began their efforts to undermine society at that time.
Now, the only real quibble Simpson’s uninformed contemporaries had with LBJ was his conduct of the war yet Simpson includes civil rights as an issue they protested for and an issue this legitimately nation faced. But LBJ was a leading figure in helping to push the civil rights agenda so Simpsonâ€™s protesters could hardly have had too much against Johnson on that count. State laws and practices were far more the obstacle to civil rights than Federal, in the final analysis. Yet, Simpson uncritically regurgitates the far left’s talking points even this far removed from the era when any unbiased review of the real history of the era proves those claims to be balderdash by now.
In his next colorful paragraph he continues to employ the failed assumptions of the losers in the counter culture movement quite despite sense and reality.
Behind these loomed the cultural clash of the ’60s generation. The hippies, Yippies, Beatle-loving, pot-smoking free lovers doing their own thing came up against Richard J. Daley, the Chicago cops and the National Guard upholding the status quo against their own ”barbarian” children. Society was sliding into stereotype, and anger was rising.
Simpson states that the “anger was rising,” but from whom was that true? Only from the radical leftists. The rest of the nation didn’t have nearly the problems with society (civil rights aside) that the malcontents and anti-Americans in the counter culture had. In fact, the Vietnam war enjoyed majority support from most Americans almost until the last days of the thing. So, Simpson’s attempt to invest the fraction of discontent that the hippies had into America’s entire populace is a blatant lie.
And, let’s not kid ourselves. Few of the flower power generation, those “free lovers” that Simpson so warmly remembers — probably in a haze of pot smoke — cared a whit about civil rights. The civil rights movement was organized and supported by the previous, older generation of Americans than those who were beaten by King Daley’s police forces in 1968. The criminals of the Chicago 7 had little interest in the real and important issue of civil rights. Radicals like Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden, and the like were socialists looking to destroy America. In fact, justice and law had nothing to do with their interests. Hoffman, for instance once tried to extort money from the promoters of the Woodstock Music Festival, so no “cause” but his own power and wallet was ever in his mind. Civil rights were not really on the radar for any of these hatemongers. Though they often appropriated the vernacular of the true civil rights movement, their goals never much coincided with those of Martin Luther King, Jr. (at least for most of his life) and his followers. Chicago 7 member, Boby Seale, though a black man himself, was also uninterested in rights for blacks that might be obtained within the American system of laws and governance. He wanted war between the races and separation of them, not equal rights and harmony. So even his interests in the race question did not jive with that of the true civil rights movement.
These are the scumbags that Dick Simpson wants us to fondly recall and emulate. Certainly, time has dulled Dick’s memory.
Next Simpson waxes poetic about how these troublemakers and criminals were so interested in the democratic process that they came to Chicago to start a “third party” for which they wanted to hold a “convention.” So serious were these “third party” supporters that their candidate for president was to become a pig they anointed “Pigasus the Immortal.” Yes, it is easy to see how serious they were about creating a third party, isn’t it?
Simpson congratulates himself and his tie-died miscreants for their efforts but admitted they hadn’t a clue on how to go about it all. “There were no rules for how to defeat a seated president,” He droned on (and, yes, he did write “seated” instead of “sitting”) “â€¦end racial discrimination, stop a disastrous war and return power from an imperial presidency by giving ‘all power to the people.’” Again with the ridiculous “imperial presidency” stuff. Naturally, Simpson is completely wrong that “no rules” for how to achieve their goals had ever been written. But like most of his kind, he was not interested in that little thing we call the Constitution of the United States of America. Well, none of them were interested in it until it came time to invoke its protections to get themselves out of jail, that is.
We are up next for some more starry-eyed frivolity in Simpson’s assessment of the mood of his buddies awash in cut flowers and drugs.
Those of us who came of age in the 1960s were optimistic. We actually believed that peace, democracy and justice could be achieved. We naively thought it would only take a few years of dedicated struggle.
He has a funny definition for “optimism” when one contrasts the laments by his comrades that everywhere the world had gone wrong and this supposed “optimism” he claims they felt. Worse, if one reads the drivel that was written by the so-called leaders of Simpson’s day, not a bit of their theories and ideas hold up nor stand the test of time. It is quite evident that Simpson’s assumptions that these people had the slightest clue about the concepts of democracy, justice and dedication is laughable at best.
And now to bring those creaky leftist tropes to today’s world…
None of us in the “movement” believed that 40 years later we would be fighting another disastrous war abroad, fighting yet another imperial president, one who spies on American citizens, and living in a country in which minorities are still not equal.
Obviously he learned zip, nada, zilch if he still sees the world in the same murky light he did over 40 years ago. To assume, for instance, that we are in a day when “minorities are still not equal” is an appalling lie. Racism will, of course, never be vanquished in mankind, but to say that minorities in this country aren’t equal is just a damned stupid comment.
We must clear up another whitewashing of reality by Simpson in the next sentence. He proclaims that, “Our great enemy since World War II, the Soviet Union, no longer exists,” as if he is triumphantly announcing the destruction of an ardent foe. On its face, Simpson is right, of course. The Soviets were our enemy and some would say that Russia still is or portends to be. But, for Simpson to celebrate that fact in light of this lauding of his fellow 60s hippies is laughable for it’s disingenuousness. His pals in the counter culture movement loved the Soviet Union, touted its “advances” and held up that oppressively murderous regime as the beau ideal for the world to emulate. Were you to inform them that their beloved Soviet Union would fall with a whimper instead of a roar, they would most assuredly not have welcomed the news. For Simpson to celebrate the U.S.S.R.’s fall in this gauzy reminiscence of 60s radicalism is as dishonest as it gets.
Of course, Simpson cries that his day was filled with the unconcern of carefree youth, but that it’s all gone bad. “In the ’60s, though, we didn’t really worry about getting a job, about finding health insurance or about saving for retirement,” he whines. “We weren’t fearful of crime walking our city streets. We felt free to demonstrate, protest and work inside and outside the system for our idealistic goals.” One could argue, naturally, that our current societal ills could be laid at the feet of his irresponsible generation.
Simpson tries hard for some pathos with his wrap up, but succeeds only in weak rhetoric and nutty comparisons.
The ’60s began with Kennedy in the White House, folk songs in the parks, civil rights marches in the streets and hope in the air. They ended in assassinations, urban riots, the epic clash at Chicago’s 1968 Democratic National Convention, and the quagmire of the Vietnam War.
By contrast, our 21st century began with the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, followed by the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Now we face a housing crisis and a looming economic recession — in part brought by tax breaks for the wealthy and the drain of the wars abroad. Previous imperial empires have been broken not by defeat on the battlefields but by corruption within and a waste of resources in wars they couldn’t afford. The fear is that we will remake their mistakes.
The drama of riots and assassinations pales in comparison with a shaky housing market, doesn’t it? So, his contrast seems quite anticlimactic to the point where one wonders what all the fuss is about? After all, if all today’s generation has to fear is falling housing prices and high taxes, then what the heck is he all weepy over? And his failed get-the-rich theme is so tired that it isn’t really believed by anyone anymore. At least it isn’t believed by anyone with half their wits about them. And Simpson is just as witless by his inept economic figuring to imagine we have spent ourselves into decline because of Iraq and Afghanistan. The amount of money spent of these actions pales in comparison to our past wars and we came out of those just fine, thank you very much.
Finally, after failing at so many analyses and historical allusions, Simpson closes invoking that “spirit” that his generation held so dear. But it was a spirit squandered and was so empty of any meaningful solutions that all one can do is look back in sadness at all the energy and all the potential wasted — in the same sort of way that many view Bill Clinton’s years, so empty of meaning, in the White House.
Our hope is that the spirit of the ’60s still lives or may be reborn. If so, we will achieve more progress this time around if we learn the ’60s’ hard lessons. It still must be the youth who provide the energy and leadership. But we all need to rediscover the idealism and the determination we had back then.
God forbid that the useless, uneducated, soulless, faux “spirit” of the 60s should ever be visited upon our unsuspecting nation again. Let us pray that our future youth have far more sense and intelligence than the empty headed followers of the radical hatemongers of Simpson’s generation. And let us hope that such leaders as he lauds die stillborn in their crib of self-loathing and destruction.
The sooner these aging hippies pass from the scene, the better for the country. A pox on their houses.