We turn a page on another sordid chapter of the American Experience that should not have happened. Charles Manson died on November 19, 2017, in a hospital in California. He lived almost long enough to see the release of the movie Helter Skelter.
Manson was not the biggest mass murderer of my lifetime, but he certainly was one of the most frightening. I was inside the Tate mansion in 1972. It was eerie to sit in the living room where it all happened.
In 1975 I briefly dated a woman who had once been in the Manson Family and escaped. She was one of the many lost souls wandering Southern California in the 70s. She didn’t tell me about her connection to Manson until date number 2. There was no date number 3.
Manson shocked the nation with the Tate-Labianca murders in 1969. It was dubbed the “Crime of the Century.” Well, at least until the next one. If fate could speak, surely it would have laughed and said, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
The murders happened just two years after the Summer of Love. We were the generation that was going to spread peace throughout the world. We were dedicated to free love, peace, understanding, and harmony.
What did the Hell happen?
My generation is now retiring. Much of the wonder and promise of our youth has given way to cold cynicism, greed, and suspicion. Love and peace are about as common with the Baby-Boomers as are trees in Death Valley.
My generation is the author of the mess we have in the world today. My anti-war generation has managed to get us involved in a war longer than Vietnam. In the 90s, a popular sitcom, Seinfeld, billed itself as the show about nothing. The Iraq War is the Seinfeld War, a war about nothing. The war is billed now as a war to liberate the people of Iraq from the grips of a monster.
That reason came into being after Hussein was toppled. News footage of people celebrating in the streets was shown across the world. The White House Press Office saw the celebrations and proclaimed it the reason we fought.
It wasn’t the beginning of a new era of self-determination and democracy in Iraq. The USA was not tripping over budding Thomas Jefferson and James Madison types in Iraq. Nobody will ever mistake Jalal Talabani for George Washington.
Our invasion of Iraq was the most destabilizing action ever taken in the Middle East. The Middle East existed in a kind of balance until America came in and in our arrogance tried to impose our way of life on people who are ill-equipped and not prepared by their culture to accept self-determination. “Never mind what the locals want for their own nation” seems to be the US foreign policy doctrine.
I was part of that hypocrisy. I was a cold warrior. I have no qualms about my fighting communism in Europe. The USSR was an oppressive and corrupt government with an ideology that masked just another common form of dictatorship.
They were on an evangelical mission to spread their ideology in the world that was unmatched by any other nation except ours. Democracy became the simple fix for the world’s problems according to the love generation of the summer of 1967. And by God, we’re going to impose it on you whether you like it or not because it is good for you.
The Soviets did need to go, but they didn’t go far. The only change in Russia today versus when the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989, is the pretense of commitment to communist ideology is gone. The disturbing part is American Presidents used to fight dictators. Our Baby-Boomer in the White House seeks to curry their favor.
That is the world the peace and love generation is passing to our children and grandchildren to fix. The Baby-Boomers have been equally good at screwing up America. If we’re nothing else, we’re consistent.
The murders by the Manson Family are trivial by 2017 standards. Now Americans don’t screw around. Where Manson and his folks used knives, our mass murderers use military-style rapid-fire weapons, so the body count can be higher.
When the Boomers entered the world in the 1970s, the world was a dangerous place. As we make our exits almost half a century later, shopping malls, theaters, schools, and church are dangerous places.
Our parents fought for and got signed The Civil Rights Act of 1964 signed into law. In 2017, a Baby-Boomer President, hopefully, the last Baby-Boomer President has opened to door to a resurging white nationalism, white supremacy, and all the things our parents fought to end in their generation.
It is as though America is regressing. America is being taken back. It’s being taken back by a Baby-Boomer President to a 1930’s America in a 1930’s world.
The Baby-Boomers said we embraced peace, love, understanding, and harmony. The evidence half a century later is that was not true.
Charlie Manson is dead, and I’m not feeling so good about how my generation has handled things. I wish my generation would get out of the governing business and back to spreading a message of peace, love, harmony, and understanding before it is too late.
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