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ERIC Number: ED340619
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1988-Dec-30
Pages: 17
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
The Contest for Public Culture in America Since the Sixties.
Zuckerman, Michael
The defeat of the United States in the Vietnam War affected the dearest notions held by Americans of the nature of the national existence. That defeat determined, in the words of John Hellman, "the disruption of our story, of our explanation of the past and vision of the future." This appears most poignantly, perhaps, in school history texts published after the defeat. Pre-war textbooks dispensed the indisputable truth of things. After the war, they were haunted by a sense of uncertainty. As authors tried to acknowledge the realities of a multiracial, multiethnic society, a resurgent political right reasserted the prerogatives of priviledged white males by appealing to an intransigent racism among voters. The one development of the 1980s which may have moved the nation toward conciliation rather than exacerbation of the persisting contentions of the 1960s was the dedication of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington, DC. It marks the moment when the nation ceased to exempt itself from history and rejoined the human race. Studies have shown that contemporary citizens cling to individualism and immediate, private gratification heedless of--and hostile to--the lessons of history. Refusing the suddenly unbearable burden of history, the nation recedes from the politics that might recall that burden. Young U.S. citizens have shriveled conceptions of citizenship and feel no significant obligation to vote. Abandoning larger allegiances to seek individual interests, U.S. citizens depleted material resources at the expense of their children and deprived those young people of imaginative sustenance as well. A majority of U.S. youth now expect, withn their lifetime, global catastrophe in which all humankind will perish. Notes with 29 references are included. (GEA)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Historical Materials; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A