After the unpleasantness at Kent State, the movement went both underground, with the heroic Weathermen bombers (shame about that townhouse in Greenwich Village), and, much more effectively, above ground: into the schools, the law firms, the journalism programs, the civil-rights movement, the environmentalist movement (which, believe it or not, actually started in the ’70s, with the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970 — inspired by a call from a Democratic senator and activist named Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin) where, like the syphilis virus, it went dormant for decades until it finally burst forth, with what happy results we now enjoy. We are nothing if not incubators.
The purpose of war is to kill your enemy, but after Kent State — when it was we who were getting killed — we had to stop fighting up front and out in the open, and instead begin a gradual process of getting you to kill yourselves. Now, that’s what I call a Cold War! Probably for the first time in history, one side pins its hopes of winning on the other’s gullibility and willingness to believe even the most patently impossible things: Polar bears who can’t swim! Melting ice caps! Seas rising! And that’s simply “global warming,” the magnificent hoax with which we succeeded “global cooling” when that one didn’t work out 30 years ago.
But there’s oh-so-much more:
Your kids are all crazy — give them drugs!
Your cars are going to kill us all — better to ride bicycles, even in sub-zero weather! Right down the middle of the internal-combustion-engine-propelled traffic we haven’t managed to eliminate yet!
Religion is the opiate of the masses — so go see a shrink!
Cow farts are destroying the ionosphere, or whatever it is — eat veggies!
Criminals should be allowed to vote!
Marriage is an outmoded, sexist, patriarchal institution — but let gays marry!
It’s like that scene in Goldfinger, when Bond, James Bond, is lying there strapped to the table, with a laser beam (standing in for the usual buzz saw) slowing sliding up his legs towards his crotch, and he asks the villain, “You expect me to talk?” To which Goldfinger replies, “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.”
Or, if it’s a movie closer to our own time you’re after, what about this exchange from Independence Day? You remember, the scene where the Area 51 alien has wrapped his tentacles around Brent Spiner’s neck so he can communicate with the pitiful earthlings:
THE PRESIDENT: What is it that you want us to do?
Well, those two scenes pretty much sum up our attitude vis-à-vis you.
And now you’ve reached the central conundrum, which is why you’re having such a hard time engaging us on the field of battle. Meanwhile, we’re damn well going to enjoy living in each and every “moment” while we’re here — being atheists, we are nothing if not “in the moment” — and failing that, at least make sure that your lives are as miserable as ours are.
The difference is that now it is no longer a battle between generations, but a civil war within a generation, yes, the good old Baby Boomers.