Tuesday, August 21, 2007

It's not 1967. There are no hippies. Dig?

Even a loony America-hater reality-based community member like yours truly admits that there are some differences between the Situation FUBAR of forty years ago (i.e., Vietnam) and the FUBAR of today. Not that the wingnutosphere will acknowledge this. It's 1967 all over again, and they're the righteous squares in the buzz cuts, wagging their fingers at the hippies eating mushrooms and painting peace signs on their faces. Buncha Communists, those kids.

I mean, really, it's obvious they're still trying to fight a war that was basically lost in 1975. And they're sore that America lost. It still smarts for them, and they hide their wounded pride while shedding crocodile tears for the Vietnamese. ("When the US left and Saigon fell, the nation became a brutal dictatorship." Gee, Einstein, like the ones the US supported in Latin America during the Cold War? That talking point has been done to death.)

Anyway, back to the hippies. I don't know why people dislike hippies. The hippies had great taste in music and clothes. They were mostly young kids. Lots of young kids go through a phase where they wear weird clothes and listen to weird music and nobody over the age of 25 understands them. Okay, so the hippies took drugs. That wasn't so good. But the reason hippies became so hated was that they were against the Vietnam War. And they were quite vocal about it. In fact, they held a lot of protests against the war.

Thus, the American hippie became a politically charged symbol of everything "good" and "proper" Americans were supposed to loathe. A fifth column in tie-dyed skirts and bell bottoms. I suspect that if they had simply lived in a cannibis-induced haze and kept their mouths shut, they would've been regarded in much the same way as today's ravers and emo kids.

Badtux has no use for hippies, asking: "What the fuck does looking like a goddamned bum do except make your whole cause look stupid?" In fact, he believes they did little more than play into Nixon's hands, thereby prolonging the Vietnam war.

Nixon had to run for re-election. And since he was a vile little man, he had to run for re-election on something other than his non-existent personality. So he ran for re-election on two things -- he was a law-and-order president cracking down on "those vile hippies" who obligingly showed up stoned and with hair down to their fucking ass dressed like goddamned hobos to prove his case, and he was a war president who was gonna get us outta Vietnam but "with honor", and so he had to keep the war going until 1971 so he could start pulling down troops in 1972 immediately prior to the election. Once the election was won, there wasn't any reason at all to even think about Vietnam -- Vietnam has no oil, or any other resources of interest.

A brief aside here: There were plenty of antiwar activists who were not hippies. Case in point: my Ivy League-educated, college librarian dad and my liberal but proper baby boomer mom. Both marched against the war. They even took a newborn yours truly along to an antiwar march. This was in a leafy New England college town, mind you. And even then, there were hecklers calling the protesters Communists. And FBI agents with cameras. And, of course, slogans like "Dick Nixon Before He Dicks You."

Long story short: Nixon exploited older generations' fears over young baby boomers who were questioning authority. You know, the sorts of people who were shocked--shocked!--that their kids didn't think or act like them. The same politics of fear that another Republican president would exploit more fully years later.

That's the major similarity between the Situation FUBARs of yesterday and today. The president and his cabinet believe they're fighting a war at home against their fellow Americans. And in that war, fear is the only weapon they have. Like Nixon, Bush has no sparkling personality to win over Americans. He has accomplished nothing to make America or the world a better place. He has no positive achievements. The best Bushco can do is publicize their botched war on terror every time there's a new scandal. The idea of a fifth column in America is an attractive one for ineffective leaders who need to distract the public.

There's just one difference between 1967 and 2007. There are no hippies. The protesters have taken their message to the internets. Today's war critics include grannies trying to enlist. Former GOP cabinet members. Iraq war veterans running for Congress. Even--gasp!--conservatives.

Of course, the outcome of today's Situation FUBAR is likely to be the same. US troops will have to leave, hopefully sooner and not later. Iraq is going to be chaos, and the US won't be able to run their country for them. Future historians will devote books and dissertations and scholarly articles to analyzing the biggest foreign policy disaster in American history. Hopefully, when they do, they'll put the blame for this failure where it rightfully belongs.