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Painful Echoes For A Generation That Quit On Our Conscience

Many things are contributing to the downfall of the United States, at home and abroad.

As Malcolm X said after JFK was assassinated, “the chickens have come home to roost.” Though widely condemned for his poorly timed remark, he meant that the crimes the United States has committed abroad had boomeranged.

In Malcolm X’s day the boomerang was in the form of assassinations – John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert F. Kennedy, as well as his own.

In recent decades, with full-fledged fascism looming larger and larger on the horizon, the boomerang has hit the American people as a whole.

Of course, in two essential ways the United States nation has been on the wrong track from the beginning, with the near extermination of native peoples, and the terror of slavery. Those evils have infected this nation to this day, and haven’t been remedied.

As far as the US government, it went really wrong when President Truman used nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, only to accept the terms the Japanese had already proposed – that they retain their emperor.

All these terrible wrongs ate away at the soul of the people. But despite domestic iniquities, and evils committed in the name of the American people (such as killing millions of civilians in southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, and hundreds of thousands in the Middle East during and after the Gulf wars), the basic intactness of the American people persisted until 1991.

However, the bales of fails accumulated to the point that there was a definite break after the cooked up Gulf War at the beginning of the ‘90’s. That was the straw that broke the spirit’s back, both in the spiritual and metaphysical sense of the word, and in what used to be called “the American spirit.”

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Growing up in the area and at the time when the Kent State massacre, which happened 54 years ago on May 4th 1970, I felt their sacrifice meant that we had won and would fundamentally change society.

But because my generation hadn’t delved deeper than protesting the war and the system, the vast majority of boomers turned into versions of their American parents they had revolted against, following self-centered pursuits after the Vietnamese War just as our parents did after World War II.

We blew the chance for radical change. It’s painfully ironic that the grandchildren of the previous anti-war generation are reminding us of the social conscience so many in my generation quit on.

Their parents, the children of my generation, don’t seem to have possessed a social conscience. The best of them foolishly became nationalistic after 9/11, and were wasted on America’s forever wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The fire in young people today is being snuffed out by the state in a nation that has lost its soul. That’s unlike the old fire in my generation, which all but a few of us self-extinguished after the Vietnam War.

Can these young people, who represent the best of us, rekindle the fire of decency and conscience within the American people, so that we change course? Or is a full-blown manifestation of the darkness in the American character and culture that Trump embodies inevitable?

Martin LeFevre

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