April 13, 2008

"Everywhere, they flew the colors of assertive patriot."

"Their car windows were plastered with American-flag decals, their ideological totems. In the bumper-sticker dialogue of the freeways, they answered Make Love Not War with Honor America or Spiro is My Hero. They sent Richard Nixon to the White House and two teams of astronauts to the moon. They were both exalted and afraid. The mysteries of space were nothing, after all, compared with the menacing confusions of their own society.

"The American dream that they were living was no longer the dream as advertised. They feared that they were beginning to lose their grip on the country. Others seemed to be taking over — the liberals, the radicals, the defiant young, a communications industry that they often believed was lying to them. The Saturday Evening Post folded, but the older world of Norman Rockwell icons was long gone anyway. No one celebrated them: intellectuals dismissed their lore as banality. Pornography, dissent and drugs seemed to wash over them in waves, bearing some of their children away.

"But in 1969 they began to assert themselves. They were 'discovered' first by politicians and the press, and then they started to discover themselves. In the Administration's voices — especially in the Vice President's and the Attorney General's — in the achievements and the character of the astronauts, in a murmurous and pervasive discontent, they sought to reclaim their culture. It was their interpretation of patriotism that brought Richard Nixon the time to pursue a gradual withdrawal from the war. By their silent but newly felt presence, they influenced the mood of government and the course of legislation, and this began to shape the course of the nation and the nation's course in the world. The Men and Women of the Year were the Middle Americans."

Time Magazine, declaring "The Middle Americans" The Men and Women of the Year for 1969.

Read the whole, awesome essay — and marvel that we've been talking about these things for the last 40 years.

Barack Obama's recent comment about the bitterness of left-behind small-towners may seem like the latest line of dialogue in a long, long conversation.

38 comments:

rhhardin said...

There's a farm across the road that's had a huge flag atop its grain silo complex here since 9/11, barely visible in the pic but it's there. More obvious if you're a half mile closer.

It seems more definitive than the regular flags on the houses, which mix in with Obama campaign poster houses, as the area becomes more suburban and less farm country.

As long as there are farms, we're safely in Iraq.

Sloanasaurus said...

The latest spin from Obama is that he says people stick to things they know such as guns and religion and anti immigrant, when they feel there is nothing to do about losing their jobs.

This statement implies that if people had jobs then they wouldn't need guns or religion.... that is the elitism that spews forth from Obama.

The lost jobs in some of these abandoned industrial towns are an issue. Obama doesn't offer any solutions other than to share their pain and bitch at the government.

The truth is that the best way to combat corporations from leaving America is to address the reasons why they are leaving. Generally this relates to profitability. Therefore, Obama needs to propose solutions that will increase the profitability of these industrial companies. Cutting the corporate tax rate would be a start. However, Obama doesn't support free market soltions - ones that have worked elsewhere. Instead he supports solutions that fail elsewhere, such as making it illegal for companies to move or passing laws that make it artificially more expensive for companies to move.

Obama is abysmal when it comes to economics.

Kirby Olson said...

There's a new revisionist history of the Sixties out by Gerard De Groot called the Sixties Unplugged. He argues that the YAF was a much bigger outfit than the Yippies and that The Ballad of the Green Beret outsold any other record, etc. It's an interesting book:

Here's a bit from the Amazon.com page:

De Groot, a professor of modern history at the University of St. Andrews (The Bomb: A Life), argues that our conventional view of the '60s as a time of ripe and productive counterculturalism and social revolution is a sham. He further argues that contemporary nostalgia for the hopefulness (which proved futile) and idealism (which proved fraudulent) of that turbulent decade led to virtually no positive advances. In DeGroot's view, not much was achieved for civil rights, women's liberation and environmental awareness, not to mention advances and great work in the visual, film and musical arts. The commonly accepted history of the decade, DeGroot insists, is a collection of beliefs zealously guarded by those keen to protect something sacred. In the end, DeGroot envisions the '60s as a trivial period of self-indulgence on the part of the West and a bitterly tragic 10 years as they played out in other theaters (especially the Middle East and Southeast Asia). DeGroot deconstructs virtually all key icons of the era—Woodstock (a festival, yes; a nation, no), the Beatles, Dylan, student radicals, Haight-Ashbury, the sexual revolution and even Muhammad Ali—finding that their legends loom far larger than their realities. One might disagree, but DeGroot's book comprises a fascinating revisionist polemic. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

save_the_rustbelt said...

Let's see:

In the 60s the highly educated elite and the power brokers started a war we couldn't win and created an economic mess that developed into ugly stagflation.

In the 00s the highly educated elite and the power brokers started a war we can't and created an economic mess that will eventually develop into ugly stagflation.

But the real problem are the common middle class folks in fly over country who are greedy and selfish and want jobs for their kids and who aren't smart enough to see the big picture.

And neither time did the sons of the elites go to war, and neither time will the power brokers be hurt economically, because the control the world.

About right?

Anonymous said...

Well, I think Obama's point was that when people feel their way of life slipping from them, they tend to hold tight to its cultural features, even when economic influences are probably more to blame for the changes they see. It's not exactly an original sentiment, but it's hardly elitist, or at least no more elitist than various red state conjectures about why we blue staters hold the opinions we do.

For example: Obama is a pussy-whipped fatherless America-hating racist communist atheist lawyer snob (who is try too hard to be black!) and that, according to various sources on the right, is why he believes what he does.

The Drill SGT said...

Save,

that's about right. It's the fault of small town America, that they don't listen to the elites.

The Drill SGT said...

Scrappleface has a great faux press release titled:

"Obama creates jobs program for bitter rural people" :)

Richard Fagin said...

Middle Americans recognized what was happening even if the elites did not: American society was under assault by radicals who thought it was corrupt and evil from its inception and could not be fixed, but had to be destroyed. Echoes of that belief live in Jeremiah Wright's "God Damn America!" sermons just as well as they do in Hillary's "We're going to take things away from you!" rants. The radicals did not believe then, and do not now believe that America is basically a good country and needs some wrong things fixed from time to time, often some very serious wrong things.

Middle America is still under assault, 40 years after all the madness. The radicals' recent assaults are embodied in "hate crime" legislation, attacks on free speech in the name of protecting minorities and women, criminalizing ordinary business conduct, and worst of all promoting protection of the environment" into a form of worship. Oh, did I forget "protecting the children" from the likes of Gerald Amirault?

I do not know how it is possible as Americans to defend the rights of people who are bound to the desctruction of American society as we know it, and as doing so using the legal tools our society makes avaiable to everyone.

Cedarford said...

Nixon recognized that a Silent Majority existed, utterly unmoved by the cross-talk between progressive elites in the Jewish-dominated media that gave far more ink and airtime to the people involved in left-to-liberal "causes" than to what regular Americans believed or wanted.

Recognition and work to express the values and wishes of this "Silent Majority" gave Nixon his landslide 1972 victory. But then he was undone by creating the Watergate opening that the Ruling Elites could destroy him with. After Watergate, a false consciousness was pushed in the progessive, Jewish propaganda organs that America craved progressivism and special treatment of a wide range of people "victimized" by race, class, gender. Then both Reagan and Clinton were able to have popular successful Presidencies (Clinton after his Elite-destroying 1994 Reality Check) by tapping into this same pool Nixon recognized - they just called them "Reagan Democrats" "Red-Blooded Independents and DNC Centrists".

Bush, as a radical tool of job-exporting, tax-cuts favoring the rich Corporatist Elites - broke that Pact to look after the "Silent Majority" as surely as his Dad drifted into doing or Jimmy Carter did.

Obama threatens to be an echo of one of those cocksure, post Watergate Democrats that jammed Federal solutions down America's throat sure that the Silent Majority was wrong...and most of what they believed was provincial ignorance. That once they were properly educated by their Elitist Betters - Jewish or Gentile progressives - they would learn to love school busing, enhanced criminal rights, faith in the UN and International institutions wre wise elitists showed the proper path, the courts deciding things rather than voters, higher taxes to fulfill unlimited "needs" of the poor, abandon their reactionary values derived from ignorant understanding of history or their silly religious superstitions. That is why so many Obama speeches include phrases like "Americans need to understand", "once this is understood", "as we seek to get past OUR ignorance"..

While Nixon, LBJ, RFK and FDR chuckle about Obama's "Bittergate" speech in purgatory...I miss those William Safire columns of Nixon and pals in Purgatory analyzing current events.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

40 year-old newsflash: most Americans hate Punitive Liberals and their destructive agenda.

amba said...

That's a little creepy, Cedarford . . . it's those Jews ... a sentiment worthy of Nixon himself.

The writer's description of the way the Silent Majority exerted a silent influence on everything that was happening reminds me of the physics account of Dark Matter . . . you know it's there, in a major way, only by its gravitational influence on what you can see. Possibly the most important effect of the Sixties counterculture turns out to be the way it provoked a conservative "backlash" -- really a revitalization and a discovery of identity on the part of "middle Americans."

Omaha1 said...

What I found amusing about that article is that even forty years ago they were treating middle-class conservatives as some kind of puzzling anthropological specimens. It is apparent from the tone that leftists dominated journalism even then. It is only the advent of talk radio and later, the internet that gave mainstream conservatives a voice, and helped them to realize that they are not unreasonable, heartless outcasts in our wonderful, progressive society.

What is really sad is that after all this time they still don’t understand us.

Bob said...

A fascinating read, and wonderfully well-written. You don't see writing of that quality much in the weeklies anymore, unfortunately. Amazing how similar things are to the way they were in 1969.

It's my own opinion that the country will remain vibrant and thriving only so long as the Middle Americans exist in large numbers; without them, the US will go the way of the Romans and the other successful empires of the past.

Thanks for sharing this, Ann.

rhhardin said...

Nixon recognized that a Silent Majority existed, utterly unmoved by the cross-talk between progressive elites in the Jewish-dominated media that gave far more ink and airtime to the people involved in left-to-liberal "causes" than to what regular Americans believed or wanted.


I imagine this is a misuse of ``cross-talk,'' but it's hard to tell.

knox said...

What I found amusing about that article is that even forty years ago they were treating middle-class conservatives as some kind of puzzling anthropological specimens. It is apparent from the tone that leftists dominated journalism even then.

Yes, you could easily read that in Time today. It's almost funny, they might as well be talking about aliens, the tone is so detached. And, dare I say, derisive.

George M. Spencer said...

I disagree that the Time Magazine of 1969 spoke with disdain to the Middle Class. Smug it may have been, but it was America's weekly Bible, just as The Readers Digest was its monthly testament.

Where, instead, I would ask is today's Henry "American Century" Luce?

A hard-core anti-Communist (and anti-fascist) Republican, Luce, the son of missionaries, saw journalism as a calling, America's world role as predestined, and himself as the voice of the middle-class, the ultimate opinion maker, what today we would call the uber blogger. (Time began as a rag that rehashed other sources.) Luce would not have experienced his phenomenal success had he not deeply understood what middle-Americans wanted--and that was to be reassured as to their own essential goodness and the greatness of their country.

Cedarford said...

"utterly unmoved by the cross-talk"

rhardin - I imagine this is a misuse of ``cross-talk,'' but it's hard to tell.

You are correct. It is a misapplied phrase. The correct one would be "back and forth" between two or more progressive elites in the media - pretending to both understand regular Americans and to actually be conducting honest discussion on the interests of such people.

Its the same sort of thing that gets black American's teeth gritting when two enlightened white liberals from Harvard hold a lecture on "things everyday blacks believe, that matter." More disconnect, more false conclusions..

Laura Reynolds said...

Reminds of the quote attributed to Pauline Kael (on behalf of those insular New Yorkers) that she "couldn't believe Nixon had won," since no one she knew had voted for him.

Roger J. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger J. said...

Obama has now made the election about class--he has dissed the American Middle Class--not that Hillary isnt any better, but Obama's has stepped on it big time.

The MSM Obama acolytes arent going to be able to sweep this one under the rug; team clinton is going to be on Obama like stink on s**t.

Not that Hillary is any better even if she has discovered guns and religion--the big winner is going to be John McCain, because whatever happens, he has the record to throw at whoever the dem nominee.

As an aside, I would love to give Hillary a single shot .22 rifle, ask her to load it and fire it at a target--after all, her granddaddy did teach her how to shoot (probably after church). What a total bunch of losers.

JohnAnnArbor said...

The previous year, the Apollo 8 astronauts were Men of the Year, having flown in the last week of the year and having been pretty much the only positive thing in 1968.

former law student said...

The Ballad of the Green Beret was the only song of its era that wasn't anti-war. Plus it came out in 66, before the stuff really hit the fan. This John Prine classic is more typical of the era (brought up to date with modern decals): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kTctirEPn

Cedarford's Jew obsession can perhaps be excused in the case of Sixties radicalism. Check out the dramatis personae from the Chicago Eight trial: Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, Lee Weiner, and Bobby Seale. The defense attorneys were William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass of the Center for Constitutional Rights. The judge was Julius Hoffman. The prosecutors were Richard Schultz and Tom Foran.

Judge Hoffman is featured in John Prine's Illegal Smile, as well:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6svtzfZhlI

The Drill SGT said...

former law student said...
The Ballad of the Green Beret was the only song of its era that wasn't anti-war. Plus it came out in 66, before the stuff really hit the fan.


Roger J and I will testify that "Leaving on a Jet Plane" by P,P&M was the unofficial anthem of the soldiers that actually fought and I don't think it was anti-war. In fact, I bet it resonates with Gulf War soldiers of all ages and genders.

Roger J. said...

Drill: amen! Nancy Sinatra's boots thing was also very popular among the grunts.

PatCA said...

"We are witnessing the explosive rebellion of small groups, who reject the American past, deny their relation to the community."

God damn America!

And so it has come to pass, and now one of their own is finally running for president. Now America can choose whether to continue the leftward drift or reassert their values.

We have a wonderfully flexible system; I hope that the essay is wrong in one respect, the unspoken belief that the government owes us happiness or at least money, and that we choose the candidate closest to a dedication to small government and individual freedom.

rcocean said...

I always considered Time Magazine writers a bunch of nattering nabobs of negativism managed by a Corps of Effete Snobs.

Sternhammer said...

FLS - what about "Okie from Muskogee" and "Fightin Side of Me"?

Cedarford, I have sympathy with some of the things you say about elites being out of touch (I was around Harvard for about 9 years and there were a lot of out of touch knuckleheads...by no means all, but you could find plenty of examples). But this stuff about Jews, man, I wish you would leave that out.

Agnostic Monk said...

Amba
"The writer's description of the way the Silent Majority exerted a silent influence on everything that was happening reminds me of the physics account of Dark Matter"

Ha, Thats brilliant!

Sloan,

There are no free markets anywhere.

Anonymous said...

What percentage of Cedarford's posts blame Jews for something bad?

Peter Blogdanovich said...

The thing I hated about Time at that time was the way they ended every fact piece with a quick editorial sentence or two telling you what the presented facts meant and whether that was good or bad.

DJ said...

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. In 1969 Spiro Agnew made a speech that offended the media elites. What he said forty years ago is still perfectly true today. LINK.

I was raised to think that Dick Nixon and Spiro Agnew were the most evil men in America and that our salvation would be with leaders such as Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern and Jimmy Carter. Wow! Was that a disappointment. Now that I'm middle-aged, Agnew and Nixon seem quite mild mannered.

Nolanimrod said...

There's a typo in the Time article that is beyond delicious, considering whom was being written about, who was doing the writing, and what is now constitutionally-protected behavior.

I don't know if this was in your presentation, in Time's, or (please, oh please) in the original. Here 'tis:

A State of Mind

The Middle Americans tend to be groped in the nation's heartland more than on its coasts.

Neo andertal said...

“They feared that they were beginning to lose their grip on the country. Others seemed to be taking over — the liberals, the radicals, the defiant young, a communications industry that they often believed was lying to them.”

Call it the LOUD REVOLUTION if you will. I think more should be made of the revolution in the communications industry at the time that was making media a much more pervasive part of everyones lives. This contrasted with what was going on in the bulk of America away from the studio lights where most people worked, raised families and lived productive lives. The media revolution was young, urban, loud, brash, revolutionary, self infatuated, and ready to leave the rest of America behind in its jet wash.

The political left was definitely part of the package but was never quite central to what was going on. What was essential was to be part of self promoting scene or be banished from the studio lights as part of the vast uncool and unseen America. Nastagia 60’s is a small part of the big picture that gets way too much attention. Besides, the cool 60’s doesn’t really correspond to the actual 60’s but runs from the summer of love in 1967 through the early 70’s and watergate to the fall of Saigon. That’s the 60’s (man).

Getting back to the origional intent of the article. There was a vast other America out there that gets shortchanged a bit in the history books and gets drastically overlooked in popular culture. For even the media people and the leftists, it was this other America they remember growing up in. Lets face it a lot more people aspired to have their names up in lights and be part of the social revolution than actually played a significant part. Most of us just bought the album. The sad part is all those people that got caught up in the party but didn’t find a real place, but rather ended up burned out, used up, in rehab, or worse.

amba said...

Cedarford's Jew obsession can perhaps be excused in the case of Sixties radicalism. Check out the dramatis personae from the Chicago Eight trial

Bobby Seale, Dave Dellinger, Tom Foran Jewish?? And those are just the obvious ones. Froines? Schultz?

What's true is that there were a bunch of red diaper babies, many of whose parents had been Jewish socialists and/or communists, who inherited the tradition of activism and were involved in the civil rights movement and later in the New Left. But Catholic activists were just as influential -- think of the Berrigan brothers. Or is that really a Jewish name like Dellinger?

Cedarford reminds me of whoever it was during the '30s and '40s who thought Roosevelt was a Jewish name.

Neo andertal: You made an important point. The notion that you could DO SOMETHING merely by turning out in numbers and creating an impression on TV (demonstrations, be-ins) began then
and probably hurt the cause of patient civic action.

Please see George W.S. Trow's very strange, very prescient little book Within the Context of No-Context.

amba said...

That link is just an excerpt. Here's the book on Google Books, don't know how much of it you can read that way. From this review:

Trow's fundamental insight is that TV destroyed what he calls "the middle ground" of our public discourse -- the common-ground culture that shaped America's national life in the first part of this century, with its "booming voices" of confident authority. This left us with only two "grids" -- that of our intimate private lives and that of the mass-market demographics of broadcast TV's national audience. But the book deserves to be quoted, not paraphrased:

Two grids remained. The grid of two hundred million and the grid of intimacy. Everything else fell into disuse. There was a national life -- a shimmer of a national life -- and intimate life. The distance between these two grids was very great. The distance was very frightening. People did not want to measure it. People began to lose a sense of what distance was and of what the usefulness of distance might be.

Because the distance between the grids was so great, there was less in the way of comfort. The middle distance had been a comfort. But the middle distance had fallen away. The grid of national life was very large now, but the space in which one man felt at home shrank. It shrank to intimacy.

amba said...

This review.

Neo andertal said...

AMBA,
Thanks for the book recommendation. I’ll check out W.S. Trow's book.
Another book that touches on the subject of media distortion of events was Image: A guide to Pseudo events in America written by Daniel Boorstin way back in 1962.

gumshoe said...

"Peter Blogdanovich said...

The thing I hated about Time at that time was the way they ended every fact piece with a quick editorial sentence or two telling you what the presented facts meant and whether that was good or bad."

can i get an "Amen!"???

it would seem the current pattern recognition specs show just the opposite,Peter:

facts buried randomly in the last few paragraphs.