Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, that is. The charismatic freshman congresswoman from New York who runs her mouth constantly while only sometimes engaging her brain.
Her latest bloviation? In an Instagram live video this week she proclaimed millennials and Generation Z to be members of the greatest, smartest most enlightened generations. They’re “badass” she boasted, noting that young people are fearless protesters, fueled, I suppose, by avocado toast, Starbucks and weed.
“I think this new generation is very profound and very strong and very brave, because they’re actually willing to go to the streets,” Ocasio-Cortez said. How ’bout that?
How about this: Read a history book, Congresswoman. You sound like a ditz.
Look, I would never declare that my own generation – Baby Boomers – is the most “badass”, although many took to the streets even when members of the National Guard were shooting real bullets at them. Then there was that pesky matter of the draft. Hundreds of thousands of Boomer boys were wrenched from their homes and families to fight a hopeless war in Vietnam while they were too young to vote.
Will someone take AOC by the hand and walk her over to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial – some millennials seem to have trouble getting around without GPS – where she can take a look at the names of more than 58,000 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Southeast Asia?
Then tell me how very brave and very strong she and her cohorts are by comparison.
You want to see badasses? Check out what’s left of my parents’ generation. The folks who grew up during The Great Depression and who went on to defeat the Nazis and Imperial Japan. The death count for Americans during World War II is believed to be about 420,000.
Theirs was a generation that grew up in America knowing hunger, massive unemployment and homelessness. My mother and her sister (ages 3 and 5) huddled in a walk-up apartment while their widowed mother worked six days a week at a handkerchief factory, hunched over a sweatshop sewing machine to keep her girls out of an orphanage.
My father’s family went on relief and lost their house because they couldn’t pay about 100 bucks in back taxes. My dad never forgot the shame of walking through town dragging the family’s belongings in pillow cases as they moved to the only hovel they could afford.
Neither of my parents ever forgot what it was like to be hungry. To have no gifts at Christmas. To turn away hobos at the door because there was no food in the house.
They didn’t complain, but they constantly reminded my brother and me of how lucky we were to be living in a time when jobs – and food – were plentiful.
Almost every American generation had it easier than the generations that came before. That’s a blessing, by the way.
Young people today have many stresses. They have pressure to perform in school, to find jobs, pay the rent. Many grew up in single-parent households, some were given no religious beliefs to hold onto when times got tough. Lots of young people are heavily in debt.
Still, they live in an age of astonishing abundance and comfort. They have modern dental care, education, food, antibiotics, anesthesia, access to an astonishing array of information and career choices. Diseases that plagued even my early childhood, like polio, are no longer a threat.
This is a fabulous time to be alive in the greatest country on earth. We’d all do well to remember that.