Friday, May 4, 2012

sneering at 'hippies'

a couple of students in my undergrad anthropology classes have made sneering references to 'hippies' or 'dirty hippies.' i wonder what is behind this contempt. first, do the people referred to in this way also refer to themselves as 'hippies'? or is the term merely meant to smear those so designated? i wonder at the roots of this contempt. why is a group so intentionally and deliberately harmless nonetheless so hated by some? is this harmlessness and sense of openness threatening to those who adhere to another definition of what 'american' identity entails? is lacking a defensive, security-oriented attitude taken to be a betrayal of american values? a couple of nights ago, a young man walked down wall street in madison, carrying a couple of sticks of lit incense and loudly reciting something -- song lyrics, maybe -- to the silent house fronts. he perfumed the air as he walked. seeing me and my son, he quieted, greeted us, and began shouting again once a safe distance away. declaim on, gentle sons of the night!

No comments: