The generation that grew up in the midst of the Great Depression and later went on to fight and win World War II is now known as the greatest generation, a title few are likely to dispute. The baby boomers had the tumultuous ’60s, with civil rights, the Vietnam War and social upheaval. Generation X by contrast has nothing, or so generation X member Dana Milbank believes at the Washington Post.
“I was born five years after the March on Washington and three weeks after King’s assassination,” Milbank writes, recalling the strong generation movements that his parents had and he grew up with. “I grew up on Joan Baez and the Kingston Trio. A poster hung in my bedroom informed me: 'War is not healthy for children and other living things.' My first political memories were of the George McGovern campaign and of a boycott of Nestle for pushing infant formula on kids in poor countries.”
In comparison to past generations, Milbank believes that generation X lacks a cohesive ideology. “But what about those born after 1955, who turned 18 after the Vietnam War draft had been suspended? For the first time in decades — perhaps for the first time in history — Americans came of age without an existential threat to the nation and without massive social upheaval at home. For us, the waning Cold War was just a theoretical threat, and the vestigial air-raid drills at school a curiosity. When we were prepared to sacrifice for the country after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush told us to go shopping. We grew up soft: unthreatened, unchallenged and uninspired. We lacked a cause greater than self.”
Others would contend with Milbank’s view of generation X. To be sure, the world did not decide to stop having controversy and humanitarian crisis after the early ’70s. So do you agree or disagree with Milbank?
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