The middle speaks out through the actions of its children.
I remember the anti-Vietnam protests of 1965, 1966 and 1967.
Those marches, sit-ins and campus disturbances were clearly demonstrative of two different American cultures, separate and unequal, blind to each other’s passions and points of view.
The first was the point of view of the group we now broadly label “the Greatest Generation” — the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen of World War II, along with their spouses.
They were, for the most part, children of the Great Depression. They viewed their service in World War II with a pride their children respected, but seemed somehow unwilling or unable to emulate, especially when it came to participating in a different war whose motives seemed murkier, and whose outcome seemed less certain, than was the case in the conflict with the Axis powers 20 years earlier.
The other universe consisted of the “Boomers,” who seemed children of privilege compared to their parents. This was the first generation weaned on TV, the first to reside in suburbs, and the first to harbor the real possibility of going to colleges and universities their parents could only have dreamt of attending.
To them, their parents’ proclamations about “your country, right or wrong,” seemed the mindless rantings of the brainwashed rather than the thoughtful musings of those who genuinely believed in their government.
For the Greatest Generation, the “domino theory” used to justify our intervention in Vietnam not only made sense, they had seen it in practice.
As a result of Pearl Harbor, Americans learned that being blind to aggression not only didn’t make the aggressor go away, but rather encouraged him to engage in further acts of aggression. To them, better to stop the communist menace in Vietnam, rather than on the shores of California.