Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The moral inferiority of the twenty-somethings

I've been pondering the arrogance of the young. As you know, I'm annoyed by the commonly-heard presumption that the latest generation of whelplings is somehow morally superior to all who came before. The Me Too movement feeds into this delusion.

You've all heard the rap from self-impressed college-aged progressives: "The older generation ignored the hundreds of rapes committed by Bill Clinton. This proves how primitive our society was in the 1990s. We are the Superior Ones. We are the FIRST MORAL GENERATION IN ALL OF HUMAN HISTORY!"

Smug young assholes revel in the unearned presumption of superiority: Classic element of social comedy. Now comes the part where we throw our heads back and laugh. Ready? HA HA HA HA HA HA!

You ain't the superior generation, you twenty-something flecks of fecal matter. In fact, you've backslid into barbarity.

You want proof? All right, try this: Ask your ancient forebears, the ones who were adults in the 1980s, how Geraldine Ferraro was treated during the 1984 campaign. Compare the more-or-less civilized reception she received to the incredibly vile sexism meted out to Hillary Clinton -- by both the left and right -- in 2008 and 2012. No, I'm not just talking about the Trumpers: Look at the disgusting misogyny displayed by the Bernie Bros and Chapo Trap House and all of those likeminded creeps.

In any previous election -- and I'm including the 19th century -- Trump's treatment of women would have been deal-breaking. Ruinous. He would not simply have lost the election; he would have been considered a pariah, an ambulatory disease.

I once looked up the contemporary coverage of an 1890 scandal involving William Taulbee, a married Kentucky congressman who had an affair with a girl working in the patent office. When Taulbee was shot on the Capitol steps, newspapers were more concerned about the wellbeing of the shooter than of the congressman. Good riddance, the NYT more-or-less said.

And Trump thinks that the NYT is tough now

When I was younger, nobody would have dared to refer to the president's daughter as a cunt -- and believe me, Maureen Reagan did much to tempt us. Moreover, if anyone had called Maureen a cunt, nobody could have defended the use of that word by pointing out the occasions when the president himself had employed similar language.

Let's turn to race.

Do you really think your generation is better on this score, whelplings? If so, then let me ask you: Why is an openly racist president possible now, when such a thing was not possible during the 50 (or should I say 100?) years preceding 2016?

I didn't notice any grey beards on those white nationalists in Charlottesville.

Do you think any TV star in the 1980s or 1990s would have referred to a prominent black woman as the child of an ape? Even in the 1950s, such a remark was unthinkable. Lucille Ball never would have said such a thing. Of course, she was a liberal -- liberal enough to be red-baited -- but the fact is that no prominent actor of that period (not even the very conservative ones) would have dared to use that kind of language. Let's take it back 100 years: Even D.W. Griffith -- a true southern racist -- would not have said such a thing, at least not in public.

I can sense your objection: Cannon, you told us that you were going to castigate the delusions of the young. Roseanne is not young. True enough -- but please note that she never made such an outrageous comment during the first iteration of her show, which aired in a more civilized time. This year, she felt free to use vile language because a vile new generation assured her that vileness is the new normal.

In a sense, all culture is youth culture. I've seen the process play out over the course of nearly six decades: The young make the times. And the times, they are a-changin' -- for the worse.

The beating of Rodney King in 1991 sparked national outrage, and correctly so. The initial acquittal of the officers sparked riots -- real riots, not the dainty little riot-ette we had in Baltimore as a result of the Freddie Grey affair. But as obviously wrong as the assault on King was, those cops did not out-and-out murder the guy. Moreover, unlike many of the recent black victims of police violence, King had actually committed a serious offense.

Compare the King episode to the series of outrages we have experienced in recent times. Eric Garner (whose "crime" was selling cigarettes). Sandra Bland. Michael Brown. Alton Sterling. Rekia Boyd. Philando Castile. I could go on and on. The cops never seem to suffer any consequences -- unlike two of the cops in the King case, who were found guilty in a second trial.

I can guess what you're going to say: "The police have always mistreated minorities." Absolutely goddamned right, but consider this: If the Castile atrocity had occurred in the 1980s, the country would have spoken of nothing else for months. Reagan or Bush would have felt enormous political pressure to assure everyone that such a thing would never occur again. But now, in this decade, the police murder of Castile -- over a freakin' broken taillight -- is considered yawnsville.

How many young Americans (including those self-impressed white progressives under 30) recognize Castile's name?

Why hasn't anyone written a book about the Sandra Bland murder mystery? Had such an event occurred in the 1990s, there would have been books and documentaries.

Check out this headline: "How Black People Can Avoid Being Killed By Police." We've seen variants of that headline many, many times. My fellow oldsters, can you recall seeing such a headline anywhere in the 1990s? In the 1980s? In the 1970s? I can't.

Thus, my question to self-impressed young shits throughout the land: You really think that you're making the world better? You really think you're superior to guys like me?

From my perspective, your generation made Trump possible. Your generation considers reactionary John Birchian conspiracy theories to be "woke." Your generation made fascist paranoia hip. Your generation dares to question democracy itself.

Given all of the incontrovertible proof of the moral inferiority of the twenty-somethings, why are college-aged "progressives" so effing arrogant? Why do they continually police the language of their obviously-superior elders? Why do they seek flimsy rationales to accuse us of racism and sexism, even though this hideous generation created the most reactionary political culture I've ever known? 

On campus, political correctness is invoked not for purposes of social improvement but in order to establish personal gain. As we used to say in the 70s: It's a power trip.

This generation of white whelplings was raised by helicopter parents. They grew up without freedom, and thus without power. Why do we keep hearing the word "coddled"? Because no other word will do. These kids were kept locked up indoors instead of being told, as I was told, to go out and play in the streets. ("Just dodge the cars," Mom said circa 1965. Great times.)

Generation Coddle grew up, grew hipster face-fuzz, and then invaded our campuses, where they demand safe spaces and trigger warnings. Why do they make these absurd demands? Because they can. Because doing so makes them feel big. Because, for the first time in their teensy little lives, they have discovered the joy of exercising power.

Thus, if you dare to use the word "niggardly," they will pretend to be ever-so-offended, even when you patiently explain that this word, of Scandinavian origin, has no etymological relationship to a certain insult with roots in Latin.

Consider this influential article published in Vox in 2015: "I'm a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me."
The student-teacher dynamic has been reenvisioned along a line that's simultaneously consumerist and hyper-protective, giving each and every student the ability to claim Grievous Harm in nearly any circumstance, after any affront, and a teacher's formal ability to respond to these claims is limited at best.
I once saw an adjunct not get his contract renewed after students complained that he exposed them to "offensive" texts written by Edward Said and Mark Twain. His response, that the texts were meant to be a little upsetting, only fueled the students' ire and sealed his fate. That was enough to get me to comb through my syllabi and cut out anything I could see upsetting a coddled undergrad, texts ranging from Upton Sinclair to Maureen Tkacik — and I wasn't the only one who made adjustments, either.

I am frightened sometimes by the thought that a student would complain again like he did in 2009. Only this time it would be a student accusing me not of saying something too ideologically extreme — be it communism or racism or whatever — but of not being sensitive enough toward his feelings, of some simple act of indelicacy that's considered tantamount to physical assault. As Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis writes, "Emotional discomfort is [now] regarded as equivalent to material injury, and all injuries have to be remediated."
The same professor got hit by both right and left. Right-wing young assholes called him a commie because he politely refuted the conservative delusion that greedy blacks caused the 2008 banking crisis. Right-wing assholiness, left-wing assholiness: Two sides of the same colon.

It's all about Power. Not the empowerment of once-persecuted groups or ideologies, but personal power. Petty power. Petty victories scored by petty persons.

Hilariously, these petty, power-tripping whelplings actually think they are making things better. But what have they really accomplished? Obnoxious young lefties made the Alt Right seem attractive. Asshole Progs abetted Trumpism.

College leftists erected a false dichotomy: If you're not a hyper-sensitive, manipulative, controlling snowflake like us, you must be a racist, sexist fiend.

In reply, much of America said: Fine. We're voting Trump. The last thing we want is to be lumped in with YOU.

There's another reason why the young have embarked upon this power trip: Laziness.

This realization hit me this morning, as I was reading up on the psychological theories of Alfred Adler. Adler thought...well, he thought a good many things: It's important to be clear on that point. But on the topic of homosexuality, what he thought is now considered wrong. He thought that homosexuality was aberrant behavior (a view he mitigated toward the end).

What would happen if you tried to teach a 22 year-old college student about Adler? What would happen the moment you mentioned Adler's view of homosexuality?

You know damned well what the reaction would be: The smug whelpling would suddenly decide that he or she need not hear one further word about this influential psychological theorist. Even though (as noted above) Adler said a good many other things, and even though many of those things deserve attention, the politically-incorrect view of homosexuality offers a rationale for taking any book by or about Adler and tossing it right out the window.

Whee! We're now free of the obligation to read a hard book!

Freud? He was a sexist. He came to disbelieve the women who told him that they were abused. So now we can chuck out that book about Freud.

Whee! We're now free of the obligation to read a hard book!

Jung? Nazis liked Jung. Out goes his book.

Whee! We're now free of the obligation to read a hard book!

Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn contains many instances of that evil word which has no etymological relationship to "niggardly." Never mind the fact that Twain was a great man and a great writer, and never mind the fact that this particular book critiques and satirizes a racist society. Never mind all of that. Just toss out the volume.

Whee! We're now free of the obligation to read a hard book!

(I'm pretty sure that this quasi-illiterate generation would consider Huckleberry Finn hard.)

One can even apply this principle to a book about higher mathematics. Whoever wrote that book must have done something politically incorrect at one point or another. So out it goes. Wheeeeeeee!

Thus, the new generation: They're petty, they're self-important, they're arrogant, they demand power, and they look for any excuse not to read.

No wonder this generation gave us Trump. Rightwing or leftwing, all young people are Donald Trump. In a sense, Donnie was ahead of his time.
Welcome back, Mr. C.

You misspelled "Crapo Crap House". ;)
Joseph, really good to have you back.

Speaking of twenty-somethings...

What about that lady who primaried Crowley in NY-14? She must read your blog. Seems like she did everything you despise (deliberately?), starting with calling herself a socialist, and yet she won by 15 points!

Hope the Hillbot establishment pros are listening. There's a train coming, and if they don't get off the tracks there will be a wreck.
Do you remember the "we tried to kick a little ass last night" that Bush made about Geraldine Ferraro after their 84 debate? That little comment really outraged my mother, and she was a Republican. Different generation.
You didn't tell them to get off your lawn! ;-) Seriously though, a good friend and I have been discussing similar things the past year or so (neither of us can be considered young, though I suspect we are a bit younger than kids call me old, so I must be, right?). We have both always considered ourselves liberals, but liberalism in the past 10 or 20 years is becoming increasingly unrecognizable to what I remember from the 80's and 90's.

In any case, it's good to have you back.
I can remember (just a few years ago) some of my otherwise intelligent maths students who would opt out of calculus and take up "veggie" maths on the basis that the scaling of subject scores would see them get a higher university entrance mark for less of an effort. These self-important dullards never figured out that, absent calculus, they were freezing themselves out of a raft of higher education courses and condemning themselves to mathematical illiteracy. That they were excising themselves from one of the highest peaks of Western scientific achievement seemed beyond their self-absorbed brains. They were intellectually incurious and their parents were the first to complain about how the world was against their little darlings. I'm sure they're doing well somewhere (probably selling time-share to defenceless retirees). Ignorance is the new black.
I don't agree; I saw all those young people working for Hillary, at her rallies, and at the women's march. But it's fun to vent. 'Glad you're back, too! Peg
I think the mainstreaming of "troll" culture is a big part of this. The Prez is The Troll King, and no surprise, bookings for performance artists like Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck are way down.

The GOP devolved into full-time performance art with Newt Gingrich, and when the gamers and "warez" crowd transitioned from obscure PC-based bulletin boards to the Internet, trolling went mainstream. During the Bush years, troll culture merged with the performance-art part of the GOP. Since DJT has been a Troll King all his life ... there apparently is no real person inside ... he beat the GOP at its own game, taking over the party at the same time.

All Rush Limbaugh does is cackle and tell his listeners how smart they are to listen to him. By now, he's boring and mainstream in the wingnuttosphere. Even Glenn Beck is stale news. Only Alex Jones is giving the wingnuts their hit of daily insanity, along with the Troll King himself. I've read that DJT's staffers actually write many of his tweets (he's never used a computer), and deliberately insert typos and broken syntax to mimic DJT's style. So it's trolls all the way down ... just one stunt after another, Caligula with a Twitter feed and an army of St. Petersburg trolls on other media.
I'm not a fan of millennials- this is a generation that thinks they're leading the revolution by ordering take out on an app- but they are not really running anything (yet). The current state of affairs is not on them. It's all on the baby boomers.

It could be a whole separate essay, but there is a lot of similarities between the two groups- starting with immense self-regard. Boomers did help stop a horrible war, but that was a long time ago. It's been a steady decent into the craven since then.
Michael @ 11:45 a Bernie Bro?
Whilst Hillary was working to make things better for women and children Bernie was inserting himself into the protest march du jour, specially if there was a camera nearby. Like the Kossacks (self named posters at dailykos) Bernie Bros n Hos attacked Hillary with republican memes.
One manifestation of the current youngs you didn't mention are the Incels, guys who think they deserve to get paid and their dismissive "Chads" and "Staceys".
Generation E(nema) is as FUBARED as any before.
Oh c'mon,Joseph. OK, we're getting old, OK we're stepping aside. But why attack the young people who are just trying to do their best under circumstances far more challenging than you and I faced when we were young? We could still believe that we could type a novel on a rented LA Library typewriter that would set us up for life. These young people can not.

We need to influence the young people while we still have a hope to, not alienate them.

I am the only true anon, yadda yadda.
Some random thoughts on the subject:
- should we not blame the " helicopter parents" for raising this generation?
- do we need to blame the conservative/ libreterian movement for promoting the " meritocracy" culture? If you are solely responsible for your failure or success, how much empathy or humility do you display?
- how much blame belongs to the Christian Right for swapping " unfortunate" with " loser" when referring to the poor and underclass. Can we blame the evangelicals for essentially substituting the culture of Christian love and empathy with the arrogance of the newly annoited rich?

We may have a disfunctional generation on our hands, but how can we who raised them and gave them the values they live by be blameless.
Should we instead look at the baby boomers and ask how and why they allowed our values and our rights to be taken away without a mere whiper?
I can think of many other things to blame as well for the state of our country, but blame is not a solution.
The generation you blame will be the victims of the demise of America. They face increasing suicide rate, gun violence, infertility, loneliness, mental problems, social pressures, and no safety net.
A key cultural item the popularity of which neatly indicates the mentality of our "twenty-something flecks of fecal matter" (how I love this blog!) is Game of Thrones. How many people under 30 can articulate what's wrong with a society in which a show that so desensitises its consumers from depicted acts of psychotic violence is not only standard "water cooler" fare but is practically nowhere criticised for what it is? How many have the guts to begin to want to take a critical stance? Don't they, y'know, feel something is amiss? Nope.

Then we can mention Vietnam. If remembering that war and reasoning accordingly were once again classed as a "syndrome", that would at least be an improvement on how things have been in the US since Bush the 'Tard declared war in 2001.

Young Game of Thrones watchers of today aren't fit to lick the boots of the anti-war youth of 50 years ago. They're a bunch of yesmen and cocky with it.

I am familiar with "helicopter parents" as a term used by schoolteachers - functionaries of the system if anybody is - who object to parents acting as if they have a right to influence their children's education and upbringing.

School and screen are the two main dumbing-down institutions in society.
I hope this is a reasonable choice for a recent post to put this comment on. I have been reading "Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: a 500 Year History" by Kurt Andersen, and it seems in many ways to be a book-length version of much that I have read here about conspiracy theorizing in These United States. The basic thesis, as I understand it, is that conspiracy theories and disdain for expertise, science and the evidence of one's own eyes have been a significant part of our history, starting with the first English settlers. I recommend it.
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