Interesting article at Salon yesterday on a commencement speech given by New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges at Rockford College, in Rockford Illinois. Hedges speech was sharply critical of Dubya and the war on Iraq, and he was not received warmly. He was heckled and jeered off the stage by the audience.
The fact that Hedges was forced off the stage at a liberal arts school that prides itself on a newly opened center for civil and social engagement is just frightening. It speaks volumes for the level of patriotic fervor and conservatism that is washing over the youth of our nation. Of course Rockford-Roscoe-South Beloit area is a pretty conservative place, but this is a stark change from what it was like when I lived up there a decade ago. Like the Dixie Chicks before him, Hedges spoke his mind and paid the price. I am certain he is being vilified on talk radio and on a thousand web logs right now. The audacity of a person to question the impudent, imperialist adventures of a third-rate president that didn’t even win the election.
I suppose this conservative backlash was inevitable. Today’s young adults were reared by the petulant, spoiled baby boomers. As the boomers rebelled against their parent’s staunch conservatism in the 1960’s, so today’s youth has reacted against their parents. They watched their parents behave like feckless fools: broken marriages, wanton sex, drug use, and a constant infantile search for pleasure and eternal youth. It’s not exactly surprising that these children raised so glibly by their errant parents would crave stability and a old time values. Something that George W. Bush and his neo-con pals provide. A simpler worldview with no troubling shades of gray. Rock solid, unwavering determination. It has a certain appeal – just ask the Germans in 1934.