When faced with periods of gloom and doom, there are two ways to respond. Ignore it—or dwell on it. As noted in previous columns, many commencement speakers for the class of 2009 chose Option #2. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported that “graduation ceremonies have become collective airings of guilt and grief,” adding that “it’s now chic for boomers to apologize for their generation’s crimes.”
GOP governors like Mitch Daniels, R-Ind, told Butler University seniors that his generation was “just plain selfish.” NY Timeser Tom Friedman compared boomers to “hungry . . . locusts” during his address at Grinnell College. And filmmaker Ken Burns told his Boston College audience that boomers had “squandered the legacy” of the WW II generation.
It’s bad enough when adults are doing the guilt trip speech, but when graduates echo the trend, it’s downright unpleasant. At one Washington D.C. area prep school, that’s exactly what happened when seniors who “stepped up to the podium dutifully moaned about how terrified they are of America’s future.”
After duly noting the trend, economist Stephen Moore proclaimed that he’s definitely not in the same camp as those mea culpa boomers. In fact, he’s far more likely to blame the parents for “rearing a generation of pampered kids who’ve been chauffeured around to soccer leagues ever since they were six.” Since these kids have never known anything else but rising affluence, can you blame them for thinking of iPods, designer phones and GPS systems as entitlements?
When students (rightly so) complain about high tuition costs, Moore says they should keep in mind who’s “footing the bill for their courses in transgender studies and Che Guevara.”
Deborah Lambert writes the Squeaky Chalk column for Accuracy in Academia.