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Has America’s Right Wing Entered Its ‘Hippie Phase’? Ask the QAnon Shaman

Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

As radical supporters of Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, I was taken by an odd sense of deja vu turned on its head.

I was reminded of the storming of the administration building at my university back in the late 1960s by some of my fellow students who were angry about … well, just about everything. You name it, my generation was aggrieved about it.

Although I went to Ohio University (“Go Bobcats!”), the storming of administration buildings in those days of the draft, SDS, Black Panthers, second-wave feminism, the Merry Pranksters and the rest was a performative act that had reached fad proportions on what seemed like every campus in the country.

In fact, after the administration successfully quieted the crowd down enough by agreeing to meet with student leaders, the hastily declared student leadership apparently realized that they had not agreed on an old-fashioned organizational tool called an “agenda.”

So they called a meeting of “the student body as a whole” that evening at the main auditorium where about a thousand people assembled, largely out of curiosity, and shouted agenda issues which were recorded by student leaders on a large blackboard.

Within a couple hours, the board was filled and erased repeatedly as the issues, ranging from “End the draft” to “coed dorms,” the fashionable term in those old days for mixed-gender dormitories — an innovation that since has become commonplace on campuses, much to my astonishment. (Things do look different now that I’m a parent.)

 

Anyway, I was no less astonished to see that the act of performative and destructive protest with aims no less vague had now, in 2021, been abandoned by the ragtag hippie radicals of my generation and thoroughly embraced by the ragtag right-wing radicals of then-President Donald Trump’s “MAGA” movement.

Who woulda thunk it? And yet, through the lens of a half-century of journalistic experiences in this great land of ours, the chaos at the Capitol seemed to have an odd and unsettling inevitability to it.

Perhaps Kevin Williamson, star roving correspondent for the conservative National Review, had very similar thoughts in mind when he put together one of the wisest essays I have read this summer.

Yes, I did say “wisest,” not “wise ass,” which is how my self-described liberal temperament often has described the conservative Williamson’s observations. But, every so often he writes something that arrives remarkably close to the same conclusions from his perspective that I have reached through my own, which is the sort of intellectual exercise in which we all should engage, even if only to sharpen our arguments.

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