Monday, October 10, 2011

Troubled By The 1960s

David Sirota sees hysterical GOP criticism of Occupy Wall Street as part of the ongoing Republican war against the 1960s. Rep. Paul Brown (R-Ga) calls OWS an "attack upon business, attack upon industry, attack upon freedom and I think that’s what this is all about;" House Majority Leader Eric Cantor slanders these Americans as "mobs;" and Mitt Romneydescribes it as "dangerous, this class warfare."

As Sirota noted in his book Back To Our Future, "the 1960s, a time of unprecedented social and economic process, has been successfully recast since the Reagan era as an era of tie-dye, not thin, ties; burning cities, not men on the moon; LBJ scowls, not JFK glamour; redistributionist War on Poverty 'welfare,'not universalist Medicare benefits." Many Republicans suggest "the 1960s brought about horrific changes, and that if we could just return to a time before civil rights, women's rights, environmental policy and antiwar accomplishments, America would be a better place."

But New York's Representative Peter King most vigorously tries to connect the protests to the 1960s when he argues

I’m old enough to remember what happened in the 1960s when the left-wing took to the streets and somehow the media glorified them and it ended up shaping policy.... We can’t allow that to happen.

This brings to mind these words from March 25, 1965:

I know you are asking today, "How long will it take?"....

I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because truth crushed to earth will rise again.

How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever.

How long? Not long, because you shall reap what you sow....

How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

Sirota notes that the comments of King- the congressman, not the fellow who "took to the streets in the 1960s"-

remind us that it’s not just the fringe of the fringe that still fundamentally opposes equal rights for minorities and women, voter enfranchisement, protecting the environment and ending adventurist wars, it’s the leaders of today’s Republican Party.

It might seem strange that contemporary Republicans would want to draw an analogy between Occupy Wall Street and the protesters of the 1960s, who helped to bring an end to the Vietnam War and were a primary impetus to ending legally-sanctioned racial discrimination. But it's part of their effort to demonize an entire decade and the Americans who helped shape it. And, then, this is today's Republican Party.

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