by Burt Prelutsky

If you want to Comment directly to Burt Prelutsky, please mention my name Rudy.

I never imagined I would live to see a worse group of young Americans than those who came of age in the 1960s. As with most groups, there were plenty of exceptions. But the ones who received most of the attention, including many of those I knew personally at UCLA, were insufferable. For one thing, they were boring. Although they had convinced themselves that with their devotion to sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, they were highly individualistic, they were merely different from their parents, not from each other. In terms of what they had to say, they might as well have been a flock of parrots.

For one thing, they pretended they were pacifists when, in fact, most of them were merely terrified of winding up in the military, where they would be expected to make their own beds and be compelled to take orders from a bunch of guys who had never even attended college.

The self-righteous bozos burned their draft cards or ran off to Canada, knowing their left-wing parents would subsidize their meaningless lives with monthly checks.

A couple of guys I knew found cooperative shrinks who would lie and swear that the draft dodgers were homosexuals. Yes, in a galaxy far away, that used to be enough to keep a person out of the Army.

These were the louts who would chant anti-war slogans, insist that nobody over the age of 30 was to be trusted, called cops “pigs,” called Vietnam veterans “baby killers” and convince themselves that simply by smoking marijuana they became the artistic equals of certain novelists, poets and jazz musicians.

They made heroes out of jerks like Timothy Leary, who proclaimed that the hallucinogenic LSD would give them insights to the universe that had been denied to the likes of Socrates, Galileo and Einstein, and the saps fell for it, hook, line and sinker. But, of course, like other cult leaders through the ages, Leary didn’t have to deal with those whose brains he helped to fry.

As I said, I had naturally assumed that America could hardly do worse than those buffoons. But, once again, I had been guilty of underestimating the amount of folly the human race is capable of when it really puts forth the effort.

Like the witless from an earlier time, the young folks today are very big on chanting half-baked slogans. But because, in the intervening years, the schools have all been turned into indoctrination centers, the kids are not as well-educated as their elders. It’s not just history that they are blissfully unaware of, but math, science, English and civics.

Although it’s played for laughs, we have all seen the interviews on TV when collegians are unable to identify their state’s two senators, to figure out which country had to be defeated before Americans could form their own nation, in what century the Civil War took place or even the length of a presidential term. We laugh, but we should be crying.

Because they grew up in the digital age, they even have a hard time telling time if limited to a clock with a big hand and a little hand.

But even more troubling than their basic ignorance is their arrogance, which we have all seen on full display with the recent anti-gun demonstrations. Thousands of youngsters who have never even bothered to read the Constitution have shown up at venues around the country and on TV to lecture their elders on the danger of guns in the hands of law-abiding people.

They are so incapable of thought, they never even pause to wonder if gun-free zones might not be an overwhelming temptation to the demented among us who are out to bag their limit of innocent victims.

These young chowder heads go by the designation of millennials. Apparently, it refers to those born around the turn of the century, from roughly 1985 to 2005. Their unfettered ignorance isn’t entirely their fault. For one thing, because the self-appointed experts placed such an emphasis on the child’s self-esteem, parents and teachers competed to convince the little knucklehead that the world had never before encountered such brilliance. Never mind that the tyke couldn’t tie his own shoes. After all, that was why Velcro was invented.

In keeping with the notion that all the youngsters were equally special, society tried to do away with anything smacking of superiority. So, instead of bestowing glory on winners, they began handing out participation trophies, pretending there was no difference between the kids who hit the game-winning home run and the kids who spent the entire season merely showing up to warm the bench.

Some schools did away with grades altogether, others did away with valedictorians, lest the bottom-feeders had their feelings hurt.

Even where grades still exist, they have become meaningless. When I was in high school, it was still possible to receive a D or an F. Even though a great many college freshmen can’t add a column of figures or write a coherent sentence, I doubt if any of them ever received a grade worse than C.

Is it any wonder that college students either take to their safety zones complete with teddy bears and graham crackers if anyone dares to disagree with them, or they don masks and vandalize the school if a conservative speaker dare set foot on campus. Send your young sprout off to major in liberal arts these days, and the chances are excellent that he or she will either turn out to be a milquetoast or a fascist.

Something else that has messed with their self-perception is that they have mastered those electronic gizmos that were invented after their parents drifted into middle age. Because they are whizzes when it comes to computers and phones that do everything but cook their meals and do their laundry, they regard themselves as superior to those who managed to not only drive stick-shift cars, but to repair them.

The fact that they grew up using these modern tools has somehow convinced them that they’re as smart as the brainiacs who invented them. It would be like you or I thinking we were the equal of Thomas Alva Edison because we’d mastered turning on a light.

But as with so many things in life, there’s a downside. In the case of millennials, most of the psychic damaged can be traced to social media. Because they are constantly posting selfies of themselves on Facebook and boasting of their achievements and going on about how much fun they’re having on a daily or even hourly basis, they become caught up in a cycle of lies and tragically, after all these years, competition.

Even though they are more or less aware of their own lies or, if you prefer, exaggerations, they wind up believing everyone else’s. It’s a strange phenomenon that I became aware of years ago when I discovered that although Hollywood producers would lie to the trade papers about how much money their latest movie was grossing, they always took it as gospel when other producers would lie about their own successes.

Is it any wonder that young people are committing suicide at a rate never before seen?

When they go on Facebook and find out that their former classmates all have great jobs, beautiful homes, wonderful spouses, perfect children and, for good measure, have just returned from the vacation of a lifetime – and here are the pictures to prove it!—it makes them feel as if it would take a Charles Dickens to capture fully the poverty of their own putrid existence.

To fully comprehend their misery, think of the pressure you would experience if, instead of every 10 years, you had to attend a high school or college reunion every week and carry off the pretense that you’d never been fired from a job, gotten divorced, settled for a boring career, never seen the Great Wall or the Eiffel Tower or have to admit that your kids were drug addicts or living in your basement.

There’s no getting around the fact that the kids have a great deal of pressure to deal with that their parents and grandparents didn’t have to endure, including cyberbullying; having to spend at least four years at a university even though they had always hated school; and, of course, being saddled with both enormous college and national debt.

Still, it would be a lot easier to sympathize with their unfortunate plight if they didn’t tend to be such arrogant little snots.

If you want to Comment directly to Burt Prelutsky, please mention my name Rudy. 


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