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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

By Neddie Jingo makes the excellent point that the death of Rosa Parks reminds us once again that we are the grown-ups, that we are the ones who are running things now, and that we can't look to the morally heroic adults we looked up to when we were younger to fix things for us any more.

New Yorkers like to say that you know you are getting old when the cops start looking young.

Maybe it is my own advancing decrepitude, but cops have looked young to me for a while now. Also soldiers. Clinton and Bush always looked to me like the guys who were finishing college when we were starting high school-- one of those telescoping Ages of Man that are impossible chasms when we are one age, and cracks in the sidewalk when we look back over our shoulders. Neddie, baby, we've been running the show for a while now-- and doing a pretty poor job of it. Those cops, those soldiers? Their parents are our age. I mean, I know, I feel younger-- I have a daughter who is 12. But she's the baby in our family-- at the conference I attended last week there were people who were having their first children. My 12 year old will student teach those kids.

It goes by quick, and that fact may be one explanation for how we have let things get so out of hand. Hell, Bush is still looking to people his father's age to tell him what to do, and a fine bunch of evil answers he's been getting, too. Neddie, and the rest of us should know better-- I think we do know better-- but we aren't running things, and lots of people our age aren't even voting. They feel so disconnected that they just throw up their hands and say, in effect, "Let the grown-ups figure it out."

Neddie's piece ends on a note that gives me a shred of hope: as useless and venial as we have been, we may have produced children that are better than we are. That is the point of children, and just about the only thing about the senior Bush that makes me think that he may not be quite the useless pile of privilege that I have always loathed him for being is that I get the sense that he looks at his son and says, "How'd I go wrong with that boy?" We may be doing better. If I'm not mistaken, Neddie is a white guy, like me, one of those people that Robert Christgau says, "regret at whatever level of conscious intellection their complicity in an ideology of domination they're at least half ashamed of." I think it's some sort of sign of progress that his daughter can dress as Rosa Parks for her class presentation on a hero from history, a white girl dressing up as a civil rights hero, and not draw comment on the racial discrepancy. In the end, that's the point of the Civil Rights Movement, and twenty years from now, or fifty, or a hundred, my children's grandchildren, and Neddie's too will be giving classroom presentations about Rosa Parks. I'll betcha that as many then will be doing presentations about either George Bush as are doing William Henry Harrison today.

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