On Tuesday I took our Highly Sensitive Intellectual class–in the shape of the Washington Post?s self-styled (and full-of-himself) “culture critic” Philip Kennicott–to task for mocking the elderly Greatest Generation vets who flocked to Washington over the Memorial Day weekend and actually liked the new World War II Memorial, granite slabs and all. (See The Washington Post?s Not-So-Greatest Generation, June 1.) Kennicott’s point was that maybe World War II wasn’t really worth commemorating, what with Dresden, Hiroshima, and all that. I pointed out something that might be kept in mind with respect to today’s Abu Ghraib scandal: In every war, tactical and moral mistakes get made. The vets of World War II–and Iraq–know better than Philip Kennicott that war is hell.
Now, InkWell reader “Ginny” e-mails with another reason why our Highly Sensitive folks may be wringing their hands with ambivalence over the World War II Memorial:
“A minor point: many of the glitterati — the ‘proletarian’ writers, actors, and artists — were against going to war as long as the Stalin-Hitler pact was in effect. Of course, this has certain reverberations today.”
Right-o, Ginny. The Left was peacenik to a man until Hitler broke the pact and marched his army on Nice Uncle Joe.
Speaking of ditherers, I hate to pick on Tina Brown one more time–but why not? The unemployed Brit editor’s column today for the Washington Post reaches new heights of obfuscation and even math-impairment. She makes one valid point:
“The pileup of World War II ceremonies is causing an outbreak of Greatest Generation envy among the media baby boomers who are covering them.”
That’s for darned sure. Then she goes on:
“In New York, what’s souring the psyches of baby boomers is the sullen sense that they did have a whiff of their own Greatest Generation moment, after 9/11 — and then, too soon, were cheated out of it. Nine-eleven handed Bush something FDR did not have even after the Nazis marched into Paris: an across-the-board national consensus to go after a manifestly evil enemy with all the power — military, diplomatic, economic, everything — the nation and its allies could muster. Instead, our president chose to go after Iraq for reasons that become murkier every week.”
A couple problems here, Tina. You left out this little event called Afghanistan, in which G.W. Bush, on the tail of the 9/11 horror show, led the U.S. military into a successful invasion that overthrew the tyrannical Taliban government that had harbored the 9/11 masterminds of Al Qaeda. There was indeed a “national consensus to go after a manifestly evil enemy” in the fall of 2001–although it did not include your nattering New York intellectual pals, who complained as usual that war doesn’t solve anything. They also made much fun of the fact the Bush actually believes in good and evil.
Second, the Baby Boomers, for your information, Tina, are now middle age-sters in their fifties. Their “Greatest Generation moment” was actually during their youthful years in the 1960s, when a war raged in this place called Vietnam, and the highly educated Boomers sat back and let their working-class brothers and sisters die–when they weren’t throwing tomatoes at them and dubbing them “baby-killers.” The Boomers’ parents at the same age had served bravely in the war theaters of Europe and the Pacific. That might just be why the Boomers are feeling a bit “sullen” and “cheated” right now.