Rick Perlstein explains for the Washington Post why we’re not about to “get past” the sixties:
It’s easy to find hundreds of pictures of the national student strike that followed Nixon’s announcement of the invasion of Cambodia in the spring of 1970. Plenty of pictures of the riots at Kent State that ended with four students shot dead by National Guardsmen. None I could find, however, of the counter-demonstrations by Kent, Ohio, townies — and even Kent State parents. Flashing four fingers and chanting “The score is four/And next time more,” they argued that the kids had it coming.
The ’60s were a trauma — two sets of contending Americans, each believing they were fighting for the future of civilization, but whose left- and right-wing visions of redemption were opposite and irreconcilable. They were a trauma the way the war of brother against brother between 1861 and 1865 was a trauma and the way the Great Depression was a trauma. Tens of millions of Americans hated tens of millions of other Americans, sometimes murderously so. The effects of such traumas linger in a society for generations.
Perlstein’s new book Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America is available for pre-order at Amazon.