Scoot: Did 1968 tell us we will survive 2018?

May 29, 2018 - 11:26 am

During most of my Memorial Day Weekend, I was in a self-imposed exile in my apartment in downtown New Orleans.  Part of my reclusion included watching the new CNN series “1968: The Year That Changed America.”  The reminder on my SOTA (Scoot On The Air) Facebook page that the series was on this weekend was met with the predictable objection to any show that would be produced by the “liberal” CNN.

Preconceived notions have robbed us of an open-minded society.  CNN has been dropping in the ratings when it comes to its talk shows, while Fox News and MSNBC have remained in a ratings race with Fox News consistently #1.  But the ratings drop at CNN should not distract from many of the excellent shows that are rich with facts and information produced by CNN or in association with CNN.

“1968:  The Year That Changed America” is an excellent example of a series based on historical content.  1968 was one of the most turbulent years in modern American history, and that was just 50 years ago and well within the lifetime of many Baby Boomers.  

The reason the series was so powerful is because of the emotional parallels to 2018.  Overall, the violence in the streets was more prominent in 1968 and the severity of most of the debates was grander, but there are shared senses between 1968 and 2018 that are impossible to ignore.

Racial tension, distrust in government, a sense of aggressive police action, student protests, a great division within the Republican and the Democratic parties, concerns of not feeling safe in homes and on city streets, a Southern segregationist attitude that reached disenfranchised blue-collar workers across the country and sex in movies are all among the denominators that link 1968 and 2018.  The common bonds by those two years are exaggerated by their 50 years separation.

There are dramatic differences between 1968 and 2018.  In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Democratic presidential candidate Senator Robert Kennedy were both assassinated and the riots during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago are examples of the pervasive violence that marred 1968; but we have all seen violence, though less widespread and consistent, today in 2018.

In 1968, when the media was considered objective, trusted CBS anchor Walter Cronkite became a critic of the Vietnam War and warned America during a newscast that the government “is not telling us the truth.” 

Books have been written about the defining characteristics of the year 1968; and CNN has produced and aired a 4-part special that I highly recommend - if you can get past the fact that it was on CNN.  To those who are so biased that they are not interested because the facts are told by CNN - thanks!  Thanks for allowing the rest of us to have the advantage of the facts and the perspective that will escape your myopic worldview.

The greatest takeaway from any reminder of what America witnessed in 1968 - whether through CNN’s special series or the countless books and essays that have been written about that year - is the idea that we are all here 50 years later to talk about the parallels between 1968 and 2018.  Yes, we are here, which means our country survived the turbulence of a year that seemed to signal the end of America as we know it.

And so, today, in 2018, we should take pride in the fact that we did endure the extraordinary events and attitudes of 1968 and that there is every reason that there will be a perspective from which we all look back on 2018 and realized we survived that, too. ​

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