Pubdate: Wed, 22 Nov 2006
Source: Boulder Weekly (CO)
Copyright: 2006 Boulder Weekly
Author: Paul Dougan


Roughly 10 percent of America is now "countercultural," that strange
euphemism for the hippie culture which started in the mid-'60s. That
is, we now have a people culturally distinct in all the ways that
ethnic groups are distinct. If some of these people aren't comfortable
calling themselves "hippie," it's because they've been told hippies
died with the '60s; therefore, they often don't quite know how to
express their cultural identity, referring to themselves as "kind of
an ex-hippie" or something. Also, for the last 40 years, young people
have been joining this counterculture, and hippie parents usually
produce hippie kids-ever seen tie-dyed baby clothes? Look around you
at those who are overtly hippie; you'll soon realize most hadn't been
born when the '60s ended. Further, journalists now report vast areas
of America are heavily hippie-Vermont and parts of California and
Colorado, among many others.

So, in today's counterculture, we have something huge, something
ethnic-like. What does America do with new-kid-on-the-block
ethnicities? Historically, it's discriminated against them,
scapegoated them and demagogically exploited prejudice against and
fear of them to win elections. Recent election analysis notes, for
instance, that the GOP first won both houses of Congress in 1994. What
they've forgotten is how that happened: hippie-baiting. Remember Newt
Gingrich's angry cries of "counterculture McGoverniks" directed at the
Clintons? At the time, writers for both the Washington Post and New
York Times opined this was the key to the neo-conservative victory.

Now, the reason pot is currently illegal in America is because of who
uses it. Historically, if the powers that be wanted to persecute a
cultural group, they went after their drugs; thus, our first anti-drug
laws, those against opium, were a pretext for persecution of
Chinese-Americans. Early marijuana prohibition targeted
Mexican-Americans. Today, pot prohibition is largely a way of
punishing the counterculture, of illegalizing post-sixties hippies, of
relegating them to a second-class citizenship. This sort of
institutionalized persecution is also an effective way of pushing the
whole society towards an ugly, repressive right.

Movements to legalize marijuana, such as the push for 44 here in
Colorado, are then nascent civil rights movements. They're largely
hippie-Americans pushing back, asserting their rights--and by doing
so, helping all of America. Let's not underestimate their importance.

Paul Dougan, Broomfield
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