Funny thing about the so-called Summer of Love: it wasn't in summer, and it didn't have much to do with love. Dawn Eden discusses:
When it comes to inappropriate names, "Summer of Love" has to be right up there with "Joy Division," the name the Nazis reportedly gave to the sections of concentration camps that housed the guards' sex slaves.
The most exasperating aspect of it all, I thought, was that constant call to "do your own thing" provided, of course, that it matched everybody else's "thing." All the nonconformists looked alike.
But collective appearance wasn't the tragedy:
This is not to say, as Archie Bunker once did, that "anybody who lives in a commune is a communist," but the sort of tribalism evoked by the counterculture ultimately proved counterproductive: Us vs. Them only works when you have something substantive for Us to embrace.
It wasn't a complete waste of time, to be sure: some of the music held up nicely, and the process of breaking down racial barriers, begun in the 1950s, clearly accelerated in the 1960s. Certainly "Question authority" is a worthwhile policy, especially when authority asserts a right to question you.
But much of its legacy, particularly the introduction of "multiculturalism" and its bastard child "identity politics," is decidedly negative and best forgotten. You want a real Summer of Love? Go back to 1944 and D-Day, when the complete absence of pacifism turned the corner and began to put an end to a full-fledged World War. And leave the flowers in the garden where they're supposed to be.
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Copyright © 2007 by Charles G. Hill