Why Are All the “Woke” Millennials So Coddled? Blame the Bush Years

By:  H.T. (@Gees3Howard)

One critique often leveraged against millennials is that in all their “wokeness” and talk of how they aren’t their grandparents, the noticeable fact is that many millennials born from 1990 to about 96 have a tendency to not being able to cope with the realities of life in America.  Fact is, this came about on account of the fact that due to the policies in schools before, during and after the Bush years along with the social issues that sprung up alongside these changes made millennials what they are.

I should know as I was of the age when this change came about.  I was born September 10th, 1991.  By the late 90s, parents were going through a moral panic almost on par with the satanic panic of the 80s.  Between fears over violent video games, kids being exposed to sexual content and the rainbow parties myth, kidnappings, teen pregnancy, and the old chestnut of drug use; parents during these years saw danger for their kids around every corner.

Though there had been school shootings since the 70s, on April 20th, 1999, parents were faced with what their very real fear of having their kids killed while at school looked like.  By this point, schools policy-wise were cracking down on everything and everyone that they felt was a danger at the very least to parents’ peace of mind.  I can recount over the years many kids who frankly weren’t a danger to anybody but because of the narratives about outcasts in schools, parents often wanted the weird looking kid punished the hardest because many believed they’d be the next Columbine shooters, never mind that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold by all accounts were considered average kids, if a little off.

On September 10th, 2001, I turned 10 years old and was going into the 5th grade.  The next day, the world changed beyond what one could recognize.  The World Trade Center and the Pentagon attacks brought about a fear that the average kid couldn’t understand beyond that potentially any and all relatives who were active duty military faced being sent to war.  For schools, this essentially meant that kids were now being lulled into a half state of protection from the real world while also getting information about the issues we faced from biased sources.

Everyone who grew up during these years grew up learning only bits and pieces on what was happening as the “war on terror” was now something that history classes decided to discuss.  By the time the invasion of Iraq began, I can remember exactly where I was when it began:  Walmart.  I was in the toy aisle and suddenly every tv turned to CNN showing the tomahawks flying into Iraq.  After this, Americans, both young and old grew up as a generation that normally saw actual warfare on TV.

This affected my generation as we grew up getting unnuanced opinions on the war, which in turn shaped how many of us would build our politics.  Half of us grew up knowing that the war wasn’t going to solve much, but didn’t realize that some action was necessary, but not at this level per se.  The other kids felt that by NOT supporting this war, we wanted their relatives fighting the war to die, but didn’t consider that maybe, just maybe, they’re maybe wasn’t as clear of and endgame here as, say, Desert Storm.  I myself will admit my shortcomings on this issue, but I will say that if the goal was to simply drive out the Taliban, fine.  But after a while I felt George W. Bush, and ultimately Dick Cheney, at times used soldiers for PR.  But again, if any veteran, Gil included wants to poke holes in what I thought, I’ll gladly listen.

What was not heard, however, was that many young people grew up learning about politics at their most unnuanced and most polarizing moments.  For as incompetent as George W. Bush was, his most famous detractors weren’t the best people to lead the fight.  Guys like Michael Moore and countless celebrities railing against him only helped his “President everyman” persona as by this point, much of America had begun to draw battle lines in the political sand and this boiled down to kids.

While there’s nothing WRONG with kids defending the second amendment or gay marriage, the fact was that my peers grew up with parents that had no problem either using them as proxies or even defending when they wanted to push their agenda into territories where others had to comply.  This I believe did us a great injustice.

The injustice being that along with not knowing how to fight one’s own battles, many grew up unable to communicate or cohabitate with people across the aisle from them politically.  For the conservative millennial, liberals meant the downfall of western civilization and the death of the nuclear family and monogamy.  To the liberal millennial, conservatives meant the end to freedom & acceptance and that we would live in a fascist dystopia where Muslims were put in camps, black people are treated like Jews in Berlin and women are left to be barefoot and pregnant.

The fact is that no one wants to live in either extreme as both sound pretty awful.  The problem is that because millennials grew up with such a lack of understanding the political discourse, this is where we are:  a war between those with neon colored dreadlocks and septum piercings vs those with MAGA hats, brush cuts and Pepe the frog memes.  My hope is to not necessarily change things, but to bring awareness of how we got to this point.

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