January 21, 2010
“You know, despite it all, it’s still really a miracle America elected a black man as president,” my 60-something neighbor said to me over beers recently. You get this a lot from people born before 1965. Apparently, America is a racist hellhole and the fact that they overcame this deep-seated hatred for blacks to allow one into the White House is physics defied. Um, as far as I can tell, a seemingly smart and in-control Democrat proceeded the most hated Republican president of all time. That’s not a “miracle.” It’s a “normal.”
I get insulted when Boomers tell me how racist my country is. I understand where they’re coming from, I guess. They grew up with survivors of the Great Depression: Grumpy old traditionalists that worked their fingers to the bone in isolation and never tried anything weird. That was then however, so please shut up about it. There is not a gigantic ogre of racism controlling our brains that took time off during the election but rears its ugly head every time we have a problem with, say, unprecedented taxation.
Now, I”m sure you can dig up some redneck who still says nigger or half a dozen skinheads in the middle of nowhere but hate crimes are a miniscule percentage of total crimes in America and if you get into per capita, all races get it about equally. I heard some horrible stories about drinking fountains from forever ago and I saw a video where dogs were attacking some dude but that was a different universe than my generation’s America. We don”t care if people aren”t like us anymore. We don’t even get what you’re talking about.
When someone under 40 hears boomer anthems like, “There’s a land where the children are free,” we go, “What the hell is this song about? Where are the children NOT free?” Old people grew up in a climate where nuns gave the strap if you wrote with your left hand and young boys were verboten from going near dolls. Our generation yawns at such superstitious claptrap. If my son turns out to be gay, I will go into a deep depression for about seven minutes and then I”ll get over it. The boomers grew up in a world where their parents dry-heaved at the thought of a black man breathing the same air as them. Even the boomers, I”m told, were occasionally mocked for not being exactly like the majority. My American Indian mother-in-law was nicknamed jungle bunny in college. Not only do we find that hard to comprehend. We think it’s funny. As Harmony Korine said, “I crack up at the race riots.”
|We never would have made fun of this guy.|
It seems like every children’s book I”m forced to read to my kid is about some freak that everyone learned isn”t a freak after all. We never thought he was a freak in the first place you ancient babies. If Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer were born today, the other reindeers would high-five him and ask him what reindeer games they think he should play. In my school, the kid with Down Syndrome was the school hero and the football team adopted him as their favorite fan without a trace of irony. The pre-1970 people are unable to grasp this. They created movies like Mask where a boy with craniodiaphyseal dysplasia, is mocked for his circus-like disfigurements. Or the show Square Pegs where the quirky, unusual kids were relegated to the bottom rung of the high school hierarchy. In my Secondary Education, all these people would have been rock stars.
The same goes with sexism. Why Men Earn More pointed out the obvious error with assuming women get paid less for the same work. Namely: Why wouldn”t corporations hire them in droves? They”re cheap labor, right? Turns out they earn less because they tend to be more committed to family events than staying up all night preparing proposals. In other words, they choose to earn less. After waves of famine, a great depression, and a free-for-all orgy of whining, we”ve figured a lot of it out and the old wive’s tales no longer make any sense to us.
We are the information generation. We know you”re born gay and there’s nothing you can do about it. We googled it. We know women can be just as capable at any job and we hire accordingly. We know freaks are not cursed by the almighty but just statistical inevitablilites. We are way too well-adjusted to push someone out of our life just because they don”t meet some strange parameters someone else invented so please stop doing a spit take when we don”t behave exactly like our grandfathers.