AMERICA’S NEW “LOST GENERATION”
The calendar says 2010 but it feels like 1955, not the real 1955, not by a long shot, but a fictional, “Hollywood version” with Americans cowering under their beds from the Red Menace, “Duck and Cover,” and a bland, colorless ignorance is seeping into our souls. Instead of cowboy movies, where evil scalping redskins menace our forefathers, wagons circled and arrows flying, the cry is “creeping socialism” and imaginary terrorists. But it isn’t 1955, too much has happened, so much that we have blocked out the realities of 55 years of our history, a history meant to be a lesson, good and bad. We have replaced everything we believe with a continuing fantasy, and not a very nice one at that. Our fantasy is written by storytellers, the public relations agents for the massive organized crime syndicate that dwarfs any political leader or government.
8 years of Eisenhower produced one thing only, a warning about the “military industrial complex.” It was 8 years of poverty and starvation for many, decline in education, impoverishment of our middle class, decline in national defense and a massive growth in class hatred in America. The only uniting force for most “voting Americans” was race hatred. You see, African Americans, then called “Negroes” but actually seldom that, couldn’t vote, not in most parts of the country. Every American was raised to ignore that, that and a thousand other unAmerican abuses of our imaginary Constitution. Freedom meant freedom to do what you were told, when you were told or a cop would bash in your skull with a club.
Then one day, a man came and stopped the train. His name was John Kennedy. No, his dad was never a gangster, that is nothing but conspiracy theory, no, Nixon wasn’t beaten in a rigged election, Nixon stole more votes than Kennedy or he would have lost by millions. Americans have always hated Richard Nixon, a vicious paranoid now proven to have been right too often, one of the little surprises time gives us when we aren’t looking. Never have two influential Americans, Nixon and Kissinger hated and distrusted each other so much, but that is for another day.
America wasn’t ruled by politicians or labor unions. Our real government was the massive organized crime syndicate that controlled our political parties with the aid of mob enforcer J. Edgar Hoover. Mobs controlled labor unions, courts, police departments, entire cities, most of them in fact, and industry after industry from oil to agriculture to trucking. There was no federal law enforcement, Hoover had decreed that the Mafia didn’t exist. He was right in some ways, the Italian Mafia was never anything more than a boys club for criminals. My father explained that to me early on. We would sit up and watch The Untouchables. He always said, “Don’t let them fool you, Jews run everything, the Mafia is just a fable.” As my dad was a bootlegger and rum runner in the 20’s, nephew of Josef “Legs” Lehman of the Purple Gang and half the aging mobsters Detroit was famous for were in and out of our home, I had to believe him.
For those of us alive then, alive and awake, Kennedy was a game changer. Americans had lost faith, had come to believe their country would always be something they could wave flags about but be ashamed of too. America was a land of coal miners living in shacks, of sharecroppers and barefoot children wearing rags, of malnutrition and ignorance. It snowed brown in Detroit, sulphurous fumes filled the air. Everyone smoked so it didn’t really matter, cigarettes and alcohol were considered a rite of passage. Lake Erie, St. Clair and the Detroit River emitted a foul stench, devoid of fish, unsafe to swim in or even touch.