THE ACCIDENTAL SATIRE
At first I thought it was a spoof, spurred perhaps by the acerbic jibes of talk-show hosts like Rush Limbaugh or conservative firebrand Ann Coulter. But on closer examination, Nissan�s �Pathfinder� automotive commercial�tag line: �Suppose you could only make left turns���appeared oblivious to the fact that their slogan was the stuff of political slapstick. I mean, if they had given this opener to a comedy troupe like �The Capitol Steps,� the cast would have had a field day.
The past 40 years have produced little else but left turns�be the topic entitlement programs, criminal justice, foreign policy, marriage, religion, lobbying scandals or last November�s �midterm� election.
Just for fun, I started constructing a mental list of left turns, dating from 1966�the height of my �Baby Boomer� college experience. I came up with the following: a rock ensemble, using a dopey moniker, �the Beatles,� was sporting hairdos reminiscent of the Three Stooges and changing the face of popular music. Marxist provocateurs started moved onto American campuses, instigating riots and sit-ins among students who understood practically nothing about the issues they were demonstrating against. Left-leaning professors, like many of their journalistic counterparts�too sanctimonious and spineless to fight for freedom themselves�passed up no opportunity to censure and ridicule those who served their country. God was declared �dead,� and Judeo-Christian became a pseudonym for �bourgeoisie� values, which were suddenly in the cross-hairs. Free love, feminism, recreational drugs, and enviro-extremism were �blowin� in the wind�; they wouldn�t really come into their own for another 20 years.
For all that, our lives were relatively innocent in 1966. By 1986, we woke up to discover we �could only make left turns.� As the first wave of us hits age 60 this year (yikes!), perhaps it is appropriate to reflect upon our legacy:
� Most people no longer recognize the difference between a republic and a democracy; the terms are used interchangeably.
� Untarnished citizens are routinely harassed, searched and divested of their personal property without probable cause. Schoolchildren (as well as visitors to events and museums) are patted down and inspected. Only a few �fringe groups� bother to bring up the phrase �unreasonable search and seizure.�
� Crime is out of control. Thanks to a judicial system dominated by the likes of the American Civil Liberties Union, not to mention legal one-upmanship and psychobabble, dangerous criminals rarely serve out their sentences and are freed on frivolous technicalities. Trials for violent offenders, even those caught in the act, take years and cost taxpayers a fortune. The middle class spends thousands of dollars on high-tech locks and duplicitous gadgets aimed at thwarting every kind of criminal from robbers to rapists, pornographers and spammers.
� Local police, once called �pigs� by Boomers, are now reduced to trolling for seat-belt violators. Armed with radar �guns,� they labor to catch violent criminals�one speeder at a time. When they do manage to foil a criminal act, the media�drunk since the Watergate era on its own importance�quickly divulges the tactics used to thwart it.
� In a Supreme Court decision reminiscent of Marxist dictatorships (Kilo v. New London), the U.S. government now dictates (�assesses�) what private property is worth, rather than leaving it to the consumer market. A citizen may be evicted from his/her home should a property be deemed of greater taxable value to the State via more �accommodating� parties.
� Although the Berlin Wall fell and communism was consigned �to the ashbin of history,� the year 2007 finds the U.S. surrounded by hostile Marxist regimes in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, and Venezuela. We go it virtually alone against global terrorists and anarchists with whom it is impossible to negotiate. North Korea and Iran give new meaning to the old �nuclear nightmare.� An appeasement-focused, left-leaning Europe learned nothing from their near-destruction by the Nazis; its leaders ridiculously accuse the U.S., not knife-wielding sadists who videotape beheadings, of being a threat to world peace. Even as the U.S. rushes about rescuing hapless populations from every conceivable global catastrophe, natural or otherwise, stalwarts of journalism like the Financial Times blames America for compromising global stability.
� Having forgotten the expression �barbarians at the gate,� our nation was easily attacked by not-so-well-armed foreign hostiles with an 8th-century mentality on September 11, 2001, killing and wounding more people than died at Pearl Harbor in 1941. Our government�s response? Virtual amnesty to existing illegal immigrants, prosecution of our own border patrol agents merely doing their job, and a welcome mat encouraging trucks to come across the Mexican border.
� Some 14 million illegals help themselves to American entitlements. Immigrants no longer are required to have a skill, a sponsor, a job, or even to learn English. Such immigrants, of course, are fodder for votes�the less educated the better.
� As the hassle factor is turned up on good citizens, the once-dreaded ID card, featuring biometric data and microchips, is gaining acceptance. The same Baby Boomers who protested rules, supervision and oversight, are purchasing implants with tracking features for their grandchildren and elderly parents. Devices come with names like �the Babysitter� and �the Bodyguard.�
� Environmental leftists like Greenpeace, rooted in the Marxist-inspired �peace� movement, have been allowed to control the debate over energy and natural resources. Unbalanced publicity-seekers like Jane Fonda and third-rate science students like Al Gore control the scientific debate. Although as early as the 1970s, scientific drawing boards were awash in forward-looking concepts that actually allowed for increases in consumer energy demand even as they ensured the nation�s autonomy�e.g., space-based solar arrays that beam energy via microwave to massive Earth-based grids headquartered in non-habitable localities�in 2007, political correctness foils any serious attempt at long-term solutions. For the foreseeable future, the U.S. is stuck with ineffectual, high-dollar vehicular concepts and low-tech management of resources�recycling, crop-based fuels, �conservation� and rolling brown-outs.
� Despite valiant efforts to curtail the welfare state after the Johnson era fiasco of the 1970s, today it grows more entrenched with each election cycle. Whereas wealth-redistribution schemes were viewed in 1966 with alarm, modern legislators and the media compete to outdo each other, using slogans like �compassionate conservatism� and �free-market socialism� to appeal to their clueless audiences.
� Black illegitimacy has reached 70 percent from its civil-rights-era 30-percent mark, despite massive entitlement and sex education programs and all manner of �incentives.� In 2007, the euphemism �single parent� de-stigmatizes unwed motherhood, equating it with widowhood, even as hordes of fatherless youths decimate our cities.
� Abortion-on-demand, in-vitro fertilization and cloning are either acceptable or in the offing, cheapening life even as the last Holocaust survivors futilely chant: �Never again!�
� Boomer adults remain fixated on their youth, spending exorbitant sums on cosmetics, liposuction, fad diets, fitness clubs, and sexual-enhancement products. Whereas Boomers once bellowed �make love, not war,� their children and grandchildren are content to just �have sex.�
� Babies are viewed as trophies�or worse, as nuisances. Most youth today possess neither the guidance nor the resources to negotiate a path to maturity. Many parents have no idea what goes on in their children�s lives or even in their rooms, such as whether lethal weapons might be stored there.
� Adolescence is prolonged indefinitely; 30- and 40-year-old �boomerang kids� wend their way back to Mom and Dad, unable (or unwilling) to come to terms with the responsibilities of adulthood.
� Pornography and smut are legally protected while God is marginalized in public places, including schools. The church�indeed the entire religious establishment�is now so infiltrated with leftist leaders that scriptural wording and doctrine are either watered down or excised. Judeo-Christian ethics face non-stop legal scrutiny and scandals.
� Surges in crime, sexual predators and violence have spawned calls for universal mental health screening. Such bills as the one passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on June 13, 2006, drive states to produce copycat legislation, affecting thousands of schoolchildren, prospective parents, and even infants. Prescriptions for dangerous psychotropic drugs are pervasive�prescribed for everything from attention �deficits� to shyness.
� �Mental �illness� has become fodder for political opportunism. Crimes of opinion are on the rise. Psychotropic drugs are morphing into mandated antidotes for politically incorrect viewpoints. (George Orwell must be turning over in his grave.)
� Youth role models are primarily entertainers and sports figures of disreputable character�glorified strippers, rapists and drug-abusers. Celebrity criminals are only rarely punished. Gifted, upstanding individuals of genuine ability find it increasingly difficult to obtain an agent or an audition in 2007.
� Public schools (and some private ones) are predominantly day-care facilities. Gangs and police eye each other in the hallways, daring each other to hurl the first taunt. Spelling, grammar, geography, mathematics and penmanship are deemed inconsequential as computers become more sophisticated. Harvard is revamping its curriculum because too much time purportedly is spent on academics. Political indoctrination masquerades as scholarship. What used to be called �common knowledge� and �cultural assimilation� are anachronisms.
� American youth so love the modern school�s casual �learning� environment that drop-out rates have skyrocketed to about 30 percent generally, 40 percent for Blacks and 50 percent for Hispanics.
� Whereas in the 1970s, a TV concoction called The Gong Show was summarily rejected by the public as dehumanizing, in 2007 the top-rated show is American Idol�an updated, more tasteless replica of The Gong Show�which alternately derides, demoralizes, and devastates young contestants. Schools, meanwhile, spend countless hours on anti-bullying curricula, anger-management and conflict resolution. Go figure�
do the Baby Boomer�s grandchildren negotiate their way in a bizarre
era of contradictions and lost principles�a kind of Twilight Zone
in which only �left turns� are allowed.
Beverly Eakman is an Educator, 9 years: 1968-1974, 1979-1981. Specialties: English and Literature.
Science Editor, Technical Writer and Editor-in-Chief of official newspaper, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1974-1979. Technical piece, "David, the Bubble Baby," picked up by popular press and turned into a movie starring John Travolta.
Chief speech writer, National Council for Better Education, 1984-1986; for the late Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, Commission on the Bicentennial of the US Constitution, 1986-1987; for the Voice of America Director, 1987-1989; and for U.S. Department of Justice, Gerald R. Regier, 1991-1993.
Author: 3 books on education and data-trafficking since 1991, including the internationally acclaimed Cloning of the American Mind: Eradicating Morality Through Education. Executive Director, National Education Consortium.
E-Mail: [email protected]
�Mental �illness� has become fodder for political opportunism. Crimes of opinion are on the rise. Psychotropic drugs are morphing into mandated antidotes for politically incorrect viewpoints.