Welcome To The Summer Of Hate

People protesting President Obama's proposed health care reform i i

People protesting proposed health care reform outside of the high school where President Obama was conducting a town meeting on Aug. 11, 2009, in Portsmouth, N.H. Robert Spencer/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Robert Spencer/Getty Images
People protesting President Obama's proposed health care reform

People protesting proposed health care reform outside of the high school where President Obama was conducting a town meeting on Aug. 11, 2009, in Portsmouth, N.H.

Robert Spencer/Getty Images

It seems like there's some kind of impulse for people to just get together and DO something. Forty years ago, long-haired, incense-burning baby boomers were subjecting us to "The Summer of Love," and they got all worked up and piled into VW micro-buses and drove out to upstate New York, rolling around in the mud and taking drugs, and generally alarming their parents with the threat of — I don't know — communes.

Now, it's 40 years later, and gray-haired, incensed boomers are subjecting us to what I guess you might want to call "The Summer of Hate," to judge from the pictures of people's faces contorted with rage, calling each other names that they used to reserve for "The Man." Now, instead of the peace and harmony, make-love-not-war thing, they're getting all worked up and piling into tricked-out minivans and driving out to their congressional representatives' offices, rolling around in their Medicare-provided scooters, yelling about the cost of drugs and generally alarming their parents with the threat of — I don't know — health care.

Laura Lorson

Laura Lorson is the local All Things Considered host for Kansas Public Radio in Lawrence. KPR/University of Kansas hide caption

itoggle caption KPR/University of Kansas

Now, I know that I'm shooting fish in a barrel, here. I mean, I'm a Gen-Xer, and what we do is snark on everything, especially baby boomers. We grew up hearing over and over again how their generation had ideals! And goals! And relatively easy access to a wide variety of hallucinogens! My generation? We had drug-abuse resistance education, McGruff the Crime Dog, and Depeche Mode. We ridicule, therefore we are. But seriously — that's hilarious! From Woodstock to apoplectic rage, in 40 short years. The more things change, the more they stay the same, I guess.

You know what I think is really at the heart of these protests? Why the turnout is large, and the momentum building? It's that people like to take a road trip. What they're road-tripping FOR doesn't actually make much difference. I keep seeing footage of people camping out in front of these Senators' offices, and mentally, I'm getting a picture of Woodstock, just cleaner, and with more clothes.

I keep expecting some fella to go up to a podium and announce, "Hey, everyone, the brown Maalox that is circulating around is not too good." Then they would all listen to "Sugar Magnolia," accuse each other of being fascists, and go home. Anyway, it looks alarming, and maybe not as much fun as three days of peace and music, but it's still kind of reassuring to know that you might take the people out of the '60s, but you can't take the '60s out of the people.

They still get together and declare, in no uncertain terms, what they want. I don't claim to know who's doing what, who's financing what, all I know is that people can be united in anger and opposition, or united in peace and togetherness, and either way, it's really something to see.

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