Randy Haspel's provocative "Rant" (June 23rd issue) about the "greatest generation" and Tom Brokaw's co-option of the World War II generation's legacy and its subsequent glorification in his popular books was insightful but flawed.
While Brokaw is best known for his "greatest generation" books, he also wrote about the Sixties generation in Boom! Brokaw pulled no punches about the era's storied excesses, but he also acknowledges how "the formative decade has shaped our perspective on business, the environment, politics, family, and our national existence."
Haspel is correct in assessing that the Vietnam War was the catalyst that caused the split between generations that led to the counterculture, the painful reexamination of American values, and the rejection of consumerism and corporate influence in our lives.
However, while the "greatest generation" may have been wrong about our involvement in Vietnam and the legitimacy of the civil rights movement, they did give us the world as we know it. Without their noble sacrifice and incredible perseverance, God only knows if the world would still exist today.
I loved the cover story on Memphis movies ("Best of Show," June 30th issue). I recently saw Hallelujah! and enjoyed the documentary aspects of it. I came across an article after director King Vidor died which said they stayed at the Peabody and filmed at Wilson Plantation, Arkansas, and the area just across the river, south of the bridges. The cobblestones are also visible. I can recognize that flood plain soil and cotton, and even the sky shows scenes that are definitely not Southern California.
For what it is worth, I had a web magazine and did an article on Tennessee movies. Got the biggies like Sergeant York, Davy Crockett, Nashville, and Walk the Line, plus some not so big ones like Hillbillys in a Haunted House, I Was a Zombie for the FBI, The Thing Called Love, and Loss of a Teardrop Diamond.
Last week was one of the most inspiring I'll enjoy this year. Longtime readers of the Flyer will appreciate the inspiration.
Camp FreeLand, the annual youth camp organized by Diversity Memphis, was held at First Congregational Church in Cooper-Young. Fifteen teenagers (and a staff made up primarily of FreeLand alumni) spent the week together — kids from as near as White Station High School and from as far away as Israel — all to learn about each other's differences and how very similar we are once some preconceptions are put aside.
The camp is named for my friend and former Flyer editor, the late Dennis Freeland. Dennis took a week's vacation every summer to organize and run what was then called Anytown. Back then, he was the one inspired.
Among the songs the campers sang last week on visitors day were "Lean on Me" and a tune titled "FreeLand." We rarely get to smile with tears in our eyes. I don't think the quote (from Czeslaw Milosz) in the daily paper that day was a coincidence: "The voice of passion is better than the voice of reason. The passionless cannot change history."
Needless to say, Dennis is quite visibly alive and well, however much we miss him. Wherever he is, he was smiling last week ... big.
The litmus test for Republicans seeking the presidency in 2012 is to be as rigid an anti-abortionist as they can be when it comes to a woman's freedom of choice. A startling fact: You can thank Roe v. Wade for the steadily declining crime rates in America over the past 20 years. Steven D. Levitt and John Donohue have proffered an eye-opening report on the decline in crime. The legalization of abortion in 1973 reduced the number of unwanted children — children who are more likely to become criminals. In 1992, the first set of children born after the 1973 decision turned 18. Young adult males 18 to 24 are responsible for or commit most crimes in America. Levitt and Donohue posit that the absence of millions of unwanted children led to fewer crimes being done by this age group. And Levitt and Donohue looked at how crime rates differed for states that legalized abortion before the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade. In New York, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii, crime began to fall a few years before abortion became legal in the rest of the country, and states with higher abortion rates have had a steeper drop in crime rates.
I am not for or against abortion, but I abhor those who continue to use the abortion issue for political advantage.