The Corner

What’s So Odd About That?

It’s a gloomy summertime for many conservatives, so here’s something that might cheer you up. Chuch Raesch, a political writer for Gannett News Service, has a piece out discussing the “9/11 generation” — those born after 1980, and for which the terrorist attacks were a formative experience of early adulthood. Perhaps despite himself, Raesch hears a rhyme with a certain previous American generation, much exalted of late:

The 9/11 generation is both traditional and iconoclastic. Talking heads often depict it as selfish and disengaged, often symbolized by the empty pursuits of Paris Hilton. In fact, according to social scientists, Generation Y has a respect for community and authority that makes it more akin to the 18-year-olds on the beaches of Normandy than the Y Generation’s baby boomer parents.

“This generation, the baby boomlet, is a very odd generation,” said Rachel Kleinfeld, 30, the founding director of the Truman National Security Project, a Democrat think tank. “They are much more sexually conservative than the generation before them. They are much more religious than the generation before them. They are very community-oriented. Their numbers on community orientation are like those of the greatest generation, the World War II generation. They are extremely loving of their parents. Many of them call their parents their best friends. And they are also very respecting of authority, but not all types of authority.”

For instance, the 9/11 generation respects the military but not the traditional news media or government institutions. If you were born after 1980, you are likely to gather your impressions of the world as much through MySpace as any front page.

So let’s tally all this up. The new generation is brave, traditional in morality and religion, close to their parents, supportive of the military, and suspicious of government and the mainstream media. On top of that, a top Democratic think tanker believes all this is “odd.” Have a good weekend.

John Hood is a syndicated columnist and the president of the John William Pope Foundation, a North Carolina–based grantmaker.

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