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A Hippie Story

By CR Thompson

The world was different once upon a time, and had hippies in it. It was a long time ago, and there never really were very many of them, and they didn't do much or last very long. But the hippies accidently made an extraordinary impact on America that is still being felt up to this very day. That's the reason for telling this story.

Hippies grew their hair long, and they dressed colorfully, with embroidery on their jeans, love beads, and so on. Oh, and they had a few quirks: they might flash you a peace sign or say something is "groovy" instead of saying it's "nice."

That's mostly it, though.

Of course the hippies were associated with marijuana, but marijuana was around before the hippies were, and it's still around today even though the hippies aren't.

And the hippies were associated with anti-war protesting, but they didn't start it, and it was a pretty crummy war they protested.

And they were associated with environmentalism, or "tree hugging" as some people call it, but that started way back with Teddy Roosevelt, I think. And even to-day there are people who care about the environment.

And the hippies tended to be suspicious of giant corporations, politicians, and patriarchy. They were for freedom, but also for equality, sharing and taking care of each other.

All in all, they were downright innocuous.

You should know, though, that about the time the hippies came along a lot of people were pretty unsettled. There was the war and all, but feminism, the civil rights struggle, and a bunch of assassinations were still on people's minds, too.

A lot of people were afraid and angry, and so you can understand why they didn'tlike the hippies, whose long hair and colorful clothing seemed to call into question the very order of things.

But a lot of folks hated them. They really, really hated them. And this requires a little bit of explanation.

You see, somehow the hippies became associated with free love, even though they mostly practiced serial monogamy just like the rest of the population. It's true that a few hippies advocated free love, but the experiment didn't work out any better for them than it has for anybody else who has tried it. (It turns out that free love is like a free-for-all market: good for the aggressive and persuasive; for everyone else, not so much.)

But one weekend hippies at a big music festival somewhere in New York made the news, and film clips of hippies were beamed into living rooms all across America. And for much of America, this was their first view of the hippies. Some of those hippies were dancing ecstatically, and some of them got naked.

Well, as much as Americans tend to be hung up about sex now, it was a whole lot worse back then. Some people were shocked and offended, outraged even. They went right over the edge, and started hating the hippies in the peculiar and intense way they did and still do. (Probably in the back of their minds they were afraid that the hippies were having more or better sex than they were, or might ever.)

And so the hippies became the symbol for them of everything that was wrong with the country, which then had the effect of making the hippie haters automatically in favor of anything the hippies would likely be against, and automatically against anything the hippies would likely be for. That's how the hippie haters came to love any war, anytime, anywhere; and to hate any environmental regulation, anytime, anywhere. And so on.

That was unfortunate. But there's more.

About the time the hippies were disappearing anyway, along came Ronald Reagan running for president. He was a B-movie actor who often played a cowboy. At a certain point he had started playing the part of a politician. He became a hero to the hippie haters when he said, "A hippie is someone who looks like Tarzan, walks like Jane, and smells like Cheetah."

Ronald Reagan became the anti-hippie, and that more than anything else is why people worshipped him. (And why they still worship him today.)

The hippie haters elected Reagan president, and cheered him on even after it was discovered that he'd given Iran arms for hostages and money, and then spent that money illegally financing drug smuggling death squads in Central America. It was okay, because he was the anti-hippie.

The hippie haters didn't object when Reagan began dismantling the regulation of banksters and corporations, which continued for thirty years and eventually led to the greatest financial catastrophe in American history. It was okay, because he was the anti-hippie. And he had quipped, "Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem." Sadly the hippie haters took that vapid one-liner to heart.

Then the hippie haters elected Bush The First. They didn't mind when he went to war in Iraq to promote the business interests of his friends and family. They were for any war, anytime, anywhere. And though he wasn't exactly the anti-hippie, he had served as vice-anti-hippie.

The hippie haters went out of their minds when Clinton became president, even though he was a Republican in Democrats' clothing. They didn't stop trying to ruin his presidency until it was over. (Probably in the back of their minds they were afraid he was having more or better sex than they were, or might ever.)

Then the hippie haters elected Bush the Lesser president and they loved him even after he let terrorists mostly from Saudi Arabia attack us with airplanes, and then used that as an excuse to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan to promote the business interests of his friends and family.

They didn't even mind that he put the wars on a credit card, while cutting taxes on people richer than the hippie haters would ever be. The hippie haters loved him because he had taken on the mantle of the anti-hippie by wearing cowboy boots and sporting a phony Texas accent, and of course he was the son of the previous vice-anti-hippie.

Now the hippie haters have become deranged again because the rest of us elected a black man presidentó something hippies would do, even though he is a Republican in Democrats' clothing. They've even taken to protesting-- like hippies!-- and calling themselves the Tea Party. And they won't stop trying to ruin his presidency until itís over.

Well, that's the story of the hippies. And I suppose it would be funny if it wasnít so sad.

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