Generational Apologies All Around


Steven Papamarcos offers, in the New York Daily News,  the apology that GenXers like me have been wanting to hear ever since we came of age and came to understand the world into which we’d grown:

The previous generation, the Greatest Generation, saved the world by sending Orwell’s rough men into the crucible of war in the interest of peace. My generation, the Baby Boomers, was to live the life purchased for us by the boys of Normandy, the Ardennes, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and other killing fields. White marble crosses and Stars of David in these places testify to the enormous price of that purchase. And live we did. What a party we threw ourselves. So, as I reflect on the goodness of the job my generation has done, I apologize. I apologize for it all.

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On his list of the Boomers’ good works:

  • Bankrupting the United States
  • A political system in which neither party will “staunch the fiscal bleeding”
  • Raising the current generations of civically ignorant nationalists and socialists around the world who are renewing “the tired, hateful rhetoric of the past”
  • Turning higher education into a politically correct land of ego stroking
  • Undermining American education, generally
  • The prolongation of racial division by trying to compensate for racism of the past, rather than simply moving past it

It’s nice to hear an apology, for all the good it does, but a nagging sense of pre-guilt keeps me from gloating.  I have a feeling some GenXer will pen a responsive apology some day, as the younger Boomers shuffle off to the grave, for what reality led us to do to them once we’d overcome their programming of the Millennials and managed to explain it all.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    A few other good works, a trip to the moon, “winning” the cold war, almost doubling the earth’s production of food. The list goes on.

    • Justin Katz

      I don’t think Baby Boomers get credit for the moonshot or even, arguably, winning the Cold War. They would have been in their early 20s for the moon landing, and Reagan and others weren’t Boomers. Those were certainly formative events for Boomers, but not of their doing.

  • ShannonEntropy

    You forgot “Inventing the interwebs and those smart phones you X’ers & Millennials can’t bear to be without for ten seconds”

    • Justin Katz

      Not sure if that’s to be credited or merits another apology. (Written with a smile.)

  • Northern Exposure

    Well, Boomers did spread US manufacturing jobs around the world to create a global economy, bringing prosperity and creating a middle class across many formerly backward countries (former $hitholes) and allowed us all to improve our technology in an affordable way. I think that you will find that there are additional benefits of that globalization in the form of much greater access to clean water, better transportation systems, and other important benefits. Blame Nixon, he went to China.

    • Christopher C. Reed

      Outsourcing to China enabled US manufacturing to slither out from under onerous regulatory and labor regimes. The engineering graduates who run China (all Party members in good standing,) bought into mercantilism on an uprecedented scale. The elevation of a Chinese middle (and elite) class has been paid for by a displaced dirt-poor rural populace, and with colossal pollution levels. In effect, American and European consumers are subsidized by impoverished Chinese peasants and proles.
      The Party remains implacably hostile to us and all we stand for. The wily Nixon remains in contention for the title of ‘Worst U.S. President’.

  • Joe Smith

    I always thought the movie Wall Street with the Hal Holbrook, Martin Sheen, Michael Douglas, and Charlie Sheen characters were good stereotypes of the respective generations. If you subscribe to Generational theory, the current young millennials are the next hero generation.

    And after all, to be a hero, some generation has to cause crises.

    But let’s remember – after winning the war, the nation made a huge investment in the greatest generation by providing tax free college tuition, “universal basic income” for a year, low cost mortgages, access to free healthcare, and low cost small business loans. Perhaps the nation remembered what happened after WW1 to Veterans. Arguably those investments made possible the ability of Boomers to become indulged children and come of age as self-absorbed young crusaders as Strauss and Howe would claim the Boomer generation to be.

    And also, let’s not forget a portion of those greatest generation heroes were still discriminated against.