From Boomers to Millennials: A Modern US History Podcast

Episode 5A - Special: Thoughts on "OK Boomer" & the Late 1940s

December 14, 2019 Logan Rogers Season 1
From Boomers to Millennials: A Modern US History Podcast
Episode 5A - Special: Thoughts on "OK Boomer" & the Late 1940s
Chapters
From Boomers to Millennials: A Modern US History Podcast
Episode 5A - Special: Thoughts on "OK Boomer" & the Late 1940s
Dec 14, 2019 Season 1
Logan Rogers

This episode investigates the intergenerational argument over the phrase "OK Boomer" that has been spreading on social media during late 2019. Is it a well-justified Millennial pushback against bossy, out-of-touch Boomers? Or is it just an excuse for younger generations to be dismissive of older people? We examine the evidence & reach a nuanced verdict. Then, we map out a whirlwind overview of the period between 1946 & 1950, including such topics as: the rise of the imperial presidency; the strange unpopularity of Pres. Harry Truman; the decline of third-party movements during the 2nd half of the 20th Century; the ascendant Republican challenge to the Democrats' New Deal Coalition in Congress; the ways in which increased economic prosperity was transforming the daily lives of Americans; the racial divides of the era between blacks, whites, Hispanics, & Asian Americans; the rise & fall of women in the workplace from the 20s to the 50s; the stigmatization of outsiders during this conformist & socially conservative era; the impact of the Red Scare on the arts; and the cultural debate surrounding the proliferation of nuclear weapons among the superpowers. Enjoy this rich, flavorful stew of historical content!

Show Notes Transcript

This episode investigates the intergenerational argument over the phrase "OK Boomer" that has been spreading on social media during late 2019. Is it a well-justified Millennial pushback against bossy, out-of-touch Boomers? Or is it just an excuse for younger generations to be dismissive of older people? We examine the evidence & reach a nuanced verdict. Then, we map out a whirlwind overview of the period between 1946 & 1950, including such topics as: the rise of the imperial presidency; the strange unpopularity of Pres. Harry Truman; the decline of third-party movements during the 2nd half of the 20th Century; the ascendant Republican challenge to the Democrats' New Deal Coalition in Congress; the ways in which increased economic prosperity was transforming the daily lives of Americans; the racial divides of the era between blacks, whites, Hispanics, & Asian Americans; the rise & fall of women in the workplace from the 20s to the 50s; the stigmatization of outsiders during this conformist & socially conservative era; the impact of the Red Scare on the arts; and the cultural debate surrounding the proliferation of nuclear weapons among the superpowers. Enjoy this rich, flavorful stew of historical content!

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from boomers to millennials is a modern U. S history podcast, providing a fresh look at the historical events that shaped current generations from the mid 19 forties to the present. For this special supplemental episode, I will begin with a look at the current intergenerational rivalry between boomers and millennials, taking place on social media in 2019. Then we will sketch a big picture retrospective of the years we have covered so far, from 1946 to 1950. Looking at the era's political, economic, social and cultural dimensions, I offer reflections made after having reviewed and researched this era, and, having pondered its unique features, it's puzzles and paradoxes. I also hope to fill in some gaps in the picture of this era that I may have neglected in our story so far. But first time for our latest show update. Our numbers indicate that we have now been downloaded in 41 U. S. States. Only a few left to go, and in a total of 16 countries on five continents were excited about our podcast growth because we're now on every continent except for Africa and Antarctica. We know we may never break into the Antarctic podcasting market, considering Penguins strong preference for true crime podcasts but were thankful during this holiday season to be gaining new listeners no matter where in the world they're located. November's monthly podcast recommendation goes to the whistle stop podcast. I love helping out fellow independent podcasts, but for the benefit of our listeners, this time I'm giving a shot up to one with an institutional affiliation with the big media company, because I think fans of our show would enjoy it. The Whistle Stop podcast is associated with slate dot com and hosted by John Dickerson of CBS News. If you're intrigued by the kind of presidential campaign drama that was highlighted in Episode three, you'll probably like the political history storytelling focus of Whistle Stop. It seems to be on hiatus right now, but they have about 90 episodes in the can, and those could be found at https colon slash slash slate dot com slash podcast slash whistle stop or just Google whistlestop Podcast might be easier. Now it's time for a little bit of very, very recent history. A recent catchphrase has been spreading across social media and the Internet here in late 2019 which reflects current generational tensions like anything that spread quickly via online social media, it is also sometimes referred to as a mean. The phrase is okay, boomer, and it's often a retort by a younger person in response to an older person who is giving out of touch or condescending advice or who is showing ignorance of the unique challenges faced by millennials and post millennials. According to Mark See Purna of Forbes magazine. Quote okay, Boomer is a verbal I roll that expresses derision, frustration and a subversive compliance. Close quote. The New York Times called the phrase blase but cutting according to Asia Romano of the news website box dot com. The millennial resentment of criticism from older generations occurs against the backdrop of years of news articles accusing millennials of quote killing. Want stable industries by saving money, spending less and eating avocados? Close quote. What exactly are millennials and so called Gen Z between annoyed and outraged? Baby boomers about grievances include the boomers quote, hastening climate change, amassing national debt, raising college tuition, driving up real estate prices and electing Donald Trump. Close quote. While millennials political views are not monolithic, or uniform. And certainly neither are those of the baby boomers. There are polls indicating a growing disparity between age cohorts in their attitudes about economic systems, social problems, cultural preferences and political candidates, Ferguson notes. The irony here is that the last time there was this level of open hostility toward the older generations was being expressed by many baby boomers against people their parents and grandparents age back in the 19 sixties. There is also resentment over a perception that the boomer's got a good life, that they were either unwilling or unable to pass on to future generations. Agile Romano reports that quote. The average baby boomer has a net worth that is 12 times more than the average millennial close quote. It would be strange if the older generation did not have more wealth than younger ones, considering it had more time to climb the career ladder, obtained pay raises and pay off debts. However, there is further evidence of the disparities, and data indicates that many millennials they're not doing as well as their parents did when they were in their twenties and thirties. Many also have the perception that boomers still dominate the power structure and top rungs of the corporate ladder, according to Romano Millennials. Still, sometimes quote are finding their paths to promotions blocked by baby boomers. But when they change jobs or careers in search of these things, they find themselves branded with the false stereotype of being disloyal job hoppers. Close quote. Taylor Lorenza, journalist with The New York Times, quotes research that argues Quote. Gen Z is going to be the first generation to have a lower quality of life than the generation before them. Close quote. The intergenerational tensions often go beyond economics and politics and draw upon broader cultural differences. Romano says that there is a big gap in mutual comprehension between boomers and millennials, after all. Quote younger generations are more diverse, less religious and more directly impacted by economic inequality than their forebears. Close quote. Boomers have reacted with some offense of the okay boomer trend. According to Ferguson, some baby boomers have responded with outrage to this kind of derogatory usage of the word boomer, with one even comparing it to a racial slur that goes much too far. I don't think most millennials intend that level of offensiveness, anger or dehumanization. Many probably see it more along the level of a witty comeback. Romano notes that quote for frustrated millennials and teens. Okay, Boomer is an emotionally valid response to boomer condescension, but too frustrated baby boomers. It sounds insolent and disrespectful. Close quote. Some have noted that there could be even legal consequences to people taking offence of the phrase, because in the workplace, Boomer used in this context could be interpreted as a type of ageist slur. According to law Professor Elizabeth Tippet, writing for CBS News, workers age 40 and above are protected from workplace discrimination by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which means that Gen Xers and boomers air covered. But in some states, there are also laws protecting younger workers from age based discrimination, which seems reasonable because for different reasons, young workers, middle aged workers and older workers can all face the brunt of discrimination in the workplace. And that's something no one should have to experience. Certainly if used in a certain dismissive way in the workplace, Okay, Boomer could be a source of unlawful discrimination. Imagine an older company employee whose comments and staff meetings were met with sarcastic and dismissive quips of OK, boomer by the company's Gen X Boss. It may be legally equivalent even to derisively saying, Okay, lesbian, Okay, Whitey or okay, Muslim, Which is to say, absolutely not okay in the workplace saying that a reference to someone's age or generation is meant jokingly rather than seriously doesn't make it any less inappropriate. According to tip it quote. When I was an employment lawyer, I heard tons of hilarious stories of things people said in the workplace. But the story ended with a lawyer on the other end of the phone. In other words, it was just a joke. Is an awful legal defense. Close quote. I'm sure there are occasionally people who discover the title of this podcast and hope for a lot of stereotypes and bashing of either boomers or millennials. Some may want to hear a story blaming one or the other generation for the current problems of our society. I do intend to offer a critical examination of each generation's most common traits, but you probably know by now that the show is to nuance to paint all members of a single generation with the same brush. This podcast theme is based in part on the idea that it can be interesting and useful toe look at history in terms of the evolution of different generations. Our show acknowledges that the events and technologies and ideas that wash over the world during a particular time period can create a group of particular aggregate traits common to most or many members of a generation that differ from the attributes of previous generations and future generations. Indeed, this podcast was founded based in part on that idea that said, When you reverse the cause, ality and come to believe that generations have inherent qualities that are not the result of historical forces but are just in a goodness or badness, innate courage or cowardly nous in eight individual is amore, communalism, et cetera. That is, when you get into some dangerous on historical territory. Of course, it's also inaccurate. Toe over Jenna Rise about any age cohort, there are people within every generation that ignore predominant norms and go against the grain. Nevertheless, there are those who would defend boomer bashing based upon the idea that the boomers still are the generation that holds the most power in current American society. Therefore, poking fun at them is acceptable because it's punching up, not punching down at a marginalized group or so this line of thinking goes in practice. The accuracy of this generalization varies depending on the baby boomer. Others argue that Boomer has become a shorthand for people with outdated or intolerant views. Under this definition, not all baby boomers are actually boomers, and some Gen Xers and even millennials can be boomers with an out of touch mindset. I don't really buy into that non literal definition of the term boomer, but I've seen people make that argument. I do see the humerus appeal of the Mame in mocking people who are out of touch with economic changes. The okay Boomer Mim is similar to those old economy Steve names that were circulating a while back featuring a guy who quote bought a house in his twenties with a 9 to 5 job that didn't require a bachelor's degree but who now complains that kids these days have it easy. Close quote that said, In terms of actually looking at the forces that are causing current problems, they aren't limited to one generation, nor the victims of current economic instability limited to one age group there are boomers who share some of the same financial and securities that millennials often have. There are also boomers who share some of the same social attitudes common among millennials. For example, one US politician who arguably has his most intense support among millennials and post millennials is Bernie Sanders. Whatever you may think of Bernie, love him or hate him, there is a certain irony in the fact that many of the people sharing the okay boomer MIM also supports Sanders, who is very much a baby boomer with roots in the political activism of the 19 sixties. After considering all this, it seems that the phrase okay boomer, when used against certain targets, may have understandable status as a satisfying come back millennials and so called Gen Z. I guess we'll keep on calling at that till people come up with something better. The millennials were called Gen y for a while, but we gave up on that so Gen Z may be replaced by a different term eventually, in a way, Millennials and so called Jan Z do face an uncertain and unequal future when compared to some previous generations. But of course, there's plenty of blame to go around for the current problems faced by the nation, the economy and the planet, and it is over simplistic to pin them all on one age group. So to sum up, it's certainly reasonable and right to push back against those boomers who demonstrate ignorance, greed, selfishness and bigotry. But if some millennials take the term, okay, boomer too seriously and to sweepingly using it is a way to dismiss and ridicule all older people. That's foolish, Justus. Foolish is those baby boomers were who once viewed the phrase don't trust anyone over 30 as a serious commandment rather than as humorous hyperbole. Of course, in terms of our story told so far, the baby boomers air just about entering kindergarten, so they haven't yet taken a leading role in our story. But the events we have covered so far shaped the world the boomers would grow up in are pondering Zahn. The late 19 forties started the top with the president Harry S. Truman. Most historians are justifiably skeptical of the great man theory of history, which claims that the best way to understand historical change is to focus on the decisions of a few very powerful leaders. But particularly in the mid 20th century United States, with the inherent power in the office of the president, expanded by the nation's ascendancy to its position as a global superpower, there emerged a so called imperial presidency. As a result, what a U. S president decided to do could have tremendous impact upon not just the nation but also the entire world. During the last 70 years, Americans have sometimes had a tendency to define whole historical periods based on which president was serving during them. That's why we sometimes hear the eighties referred to as the Reagan era and the nineties referred to as the Clinton years, the actual powers of the presidency and the cultural fixation upon the men. Sorry, only men so far who serve in that office may be unhealthy within our democracy. The exalted status of the presidency may be contrary to the level of power the founding fathers intended the office to have. But that's so called imperial level of power is starting to emerge by the Sarah, particularly in matters of foreign policy. In the case of Truman, the individual man, it seems to be a puzzling case of Americans getting what they claim to want and not liking it very much. Harry Truman was one of the most common folks to ever hold the office. He was a product of the small towns of middle America, and he lacked lofty qualifications or elite affectations. He hadn't even pursued the office in order to gain it, having been pressured into accepting the vice presidency and then gaining the top job by default upon President Roosevelt's death. Americans should love this in theory. After all, we like to think of ourselves as anti elitist, the people who overthrew the king and let the people rule themselves. The framers of the Constitution were so concerned about demonstrating quote unquote Republican virtues small R and Republican, that they often feigned disinterest in the office less they be accused of a monarchy, a lust for power. Truman seems to check off the boxes ostensibly desired by American political culture. He was a regular guy who wasn't interested in using his office to obtain riches or glory. Yet he remained unpopular according to the polls, for most of his presidency, except for the few months where he rallied the country in favor of his 1948 reelection campaign, he started his first term being compared unfavorably to his patrician predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was more well educated, sophisticated and polished in his public persona during his second term. His approval rating compared unfavorably to figures like Douglas MacArthur, who differed politically from FDR in many ways but who also was a sort of American aristocrat descended from generations of high ranking military officers and who, like FDR, was also taller and more imposing than Truman. So perhaps Americans aren't as egalitarian as we think we are, or at least we weren't back then. In the forties, we claim to want a president we can view as a relatable equal, but we may actually be inclined to want someone different, perhaps someone better than ourselves running the country. Then again, maybe the public's assessment of Truman was based more on a level headed evaluation of his policies rather than some knee jerk judgment about his appearance and mannerisms. But if that were the case, then his unpopularity is curious when you consider that most historians have been more favorable to Truman, despite his very real flaws and his administration's policies than the U. S. public was during the time he was governing the big picture of partisan politics. During that, Sarah was very much a reversion to staying within the two party box that has limited American politics unique among modern Western nations. For most of us history, there had been attempts to make third party movements viable during the early 20th century, and these movements had even made substantial inroads in presidential elections during years such as 1912 and 1924 where third parties gained over 15% of the national vote. There had also been major statewide third party movements, such as a successful farmer Labor Party in Minnesota and a Progressive Party in Wisconsin. However, the 1948 election marked the end of the third party relevance in national elections, when the efforts of Henry Wallace on the left and strong Thurmond on the right to challenge the national party. In this case, the Democrats from its fringes fizzled during the period of post war conformity that followed. Most national and statewide third parties had their membership folded into one of the two major parties, with only a few highly localized oddities persisting. Perhaps the oddest of these was Milwaukee. Wisconsin's tendency to elect Socialist mayors, which fans of the film Wayne's World obviously knew about? This trend continued into the 19 fifties and only came to an end in 1960. Milwaukee's Socialists were a legacy of the city's working class German immigrant tradition. But its elected officials were focused on administering competent public utilities and infrastructure development, not on revolutionary actions which caused actual Marxists to ridicule Milwaukee's governing Socialists as sewer socialists. Still, it is truly strange that the same state that produced the rabidly anti communist Senator Joe McCarthy, was simultaneously having its largest city re elect a Socialist mayor. I know socialism often isn't the same thing as communism, but still now back to those two major parties the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, or GOP. It's often said that American voters, unlike many in Europe, based their party loyalties more along ethnic and regional lines, van along lines of income or social class. Indeed, that was true for much of American history during the late 19th and early 20th century. Irish Catholic immigrants, for example, strongly favored the Democratic Party. While you may be surprised to learn that African Americans overwhelmingly supported the Republican Party, the Party of Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves. And that didn't even begin to change until the 19 thirties. In terms of regional divides, the South almost monolithically supported the Democrats. Parts of the Midwest and Northeast leaned heavily Republican, and the Far West was a toss up. However, all of this started to shift with the rise of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, which divided American Party politics along class lines to a degree seldom previously seen in 1950 a Gallup poll asked Republicans and Democrats why they favored the party. They were a member of at least 10% of both said they belong to the party out of family tradition or group identity. However, the single most common answer for why people were Democrats was that they quote favored the poor man working man and the little people. Close quote. Meanwhile, the most common reason people identified as a Republican is that they supported policies that were quote, more conservative and 100% American. Close quote. The new deal had brought about the trend of most blue collar workers, voting Democrat and most white color workers voting Republican. The Democrats, therefore, had two big built in political advantages during this era. First, the fact that the number of blue collar workers was significantly larger than the number of white collar voters. Second, the fact that the South was a one party region where liberals and conservatives were contained within the same party, the South stubborn loyalty to the Democratic Party mended it very reliably favored Democrats in presidential election years. This had to do a Southern societies traditionalism and its tendency to stigmatize the Republican Party as a Yankee Northern Party founded in opposition to the South. Both blue collar loyalty to Democrats and Southern skepticism of Republicans would fade dramatically over time. But these trends would persist long enough to help keep the so called New Deal coalition of the Democratic Party intact as a congressional majority, although there would often be defections of the presidential level for most of the remainder of the Cold War era. Yet this Democratic advantage seemed to be fading. During the late 19 forties, the results of the 1946 and 1950 congressional elections brought into question the Democratic majorities staying power as the Republicans seemed very much on the rise. However, the shift probably had less to do with the public rejecting the legacy of the New Deal policies and more to do with a rejection of labor militants and left wing radicals who reviewed by many as an UN American menace to national security or economic stability. The Democrats were also often perceived is less tough than Republicans like Nixon to McCarthy on the Americans, latest foreign enemies, the Communists in the Soviet Union and elsewhere in the world, Americans seem to wish for nationalistic leaders who would aggressively fight Communists and that Boyd the popularity of the political right during the early Cold War years. Still, Republicans have been frustrated by their inability to capture the White House throughout the 19 forties, and the shocking defeat of Thomas Dewey in 1948 was a particularly bitter disappointment. The GOP would finally captured the top prize in American politics during the 19 fifties. As we shall see, the man they elected would become very popular president all across the country, far more well likes than Truman. But the first Republican president in 20 years would prove disappointing to some elements of the party's conservative base. That's more than enough analysis of the politics of this era now onward to economics. Perhaps the most salient economic fact about the Sarah that differs greatly from our own is that the American labor force was heavily based around manufacturing and extractive industries like mining. The USA was still at the height of the Industrial age. Factories promising a comfortable standard of living continued to be a magnet for people from rural areas, including African Americans from the south, attracting more workers into large cities of the Midwest, North, East and West Coast. Although the G I bill was allowing more people than ever to attend college, expanding the pool of potential future white color workers during the late 19 forties, more Americans worked on the shop floor or outdoors in fields than toiled in offices. Organized labor was still a powerful force, including three out of 10 workers in its ranks. Although it's national power and influence had been hemmed in somewhat by the passage of the 1947 anti labor, pro business Taft Hartley Act, the main economic change of the Postwar era was the reality of steady economic growth and increased prosperity, foreign economic competition had been sidelined by the ravages of World War Two, and Europe was struggling to rebuild its industrial capacity. The USA was in the driver's seat of the global capitalist economy. The upwardly mobile character of day to day life was allowing more people to purchase consumer goods not only the house and car that were important symbols of being part of the middle class but also increasingly televisions and kitchen appliances such as refrigerators, freezers and automatic dishwashers that transformed the average American household into a form more recognisable to us. Today, people welcome the new conveniences, and we're grateful to have an end to the financial insecurity of the 19 thirties. Although some moralists and intellectuals expressed concern over increasing materialism within US society, our next big topic of analysis for this era is social relations. Of course, race continued to be a major fault line in American society. The 20th century had gotten off to a dismal start for black Americans amidst an era of lynching, however, racism began losing intellectual respectability among elites by the 19 thirties and at the same time more blacks for moving out of the Jim Crow south and into northern cities where they found new economic opportunities. Despite continued discrimination, the 19 forties were one of the most hopeful periods since the end of reconstruction for African Americans, featuring events like the integration of Major league baseball, the desegregation of the US military and the Supreme Court ruling banning neighborhood legal covenants that prohibited home owners from selling to non whites. Despite these tenuous steps toward greater civil rights, the attempts by courts in the 19 fifties to bring down the Jim Crow system would soon face massive resistance. The late forties were only the opening chapters of a long and painful struggle for desegregation. 21st century Americans are increasingly aware that race is far more complicated than just the divide between blacks and whites. From the time that the United States obtained the lands formerly belonging to Mexico during the 18 forties, there had been a Spanish speaking population residing in the American Southwest during the late 19 forties, this regional Hispanic population still sometimes faced segregated schools and racial discrimination. They had their own civil rights struggle ahead of them. In addition to the concentration of Mexican Americans in the border states running from California to Texas the Latino population in the United States was now being expanded by a growing population of Caribbean immigrants, especially Puerto Ricans in some eastern cities. The United States passed restrictive immigration laws back in the 19 twenties that were racially biased in favor of northern Europeans, and these had placed strict quota limits on other regions, particular countries within the vast continent of Asia. As a result, Asian American populations were quite small in the late forties compared to what they are today. They were often limited to groups who had come in largely back when immigration laws had been more lax. On the West Coast, Japanese Americans had proven themselves an entrepreneurial and upwardly mobile group, and we're making broad strides toward greater assimilation into US culture until they face the brutal consequences of internment, which forced entire families into virtual imprisonment. Upon the outbreak of World War two. The community struggled in the late forties to regain their place in America after having had their businesses, property and family lives disrupted by U. S policies during the Warriors. Unfortunately, there isn't sufficient time in the supplemental to provide a status update for all that small communities of Asian heritage around the U. S. A. But two good examples are the tight knit Chinese population in San Francisco's Chinatown neighborhood and the vibrant Arab community around Detroit, many of them Christians from Syria or Lebanon. There remains strong during this era. The sixties would bring geo political and legislative changes that would cause Hispanic and Asian populations to begin growing substantially. But during this era, they were localized and received little national attention. These groups did endure varying degrees of discrimination and prejudice in a nation that was still well over 75% white. Other social developments of this era included growing homeownership that spawned the suburbanization boom that we covered in Episode three A. On also the increasing educational opportunities provided by the G. I Bill and finally, the large scale nuclear family formation that led to the skyrocketing marriage and birth rates that created the baby boomers. This revitalisation of traditional domestic family life merits a discussion of the Sarah's evolution on matters of gender and sexuality. Gender relations had followed multiple pendulum shifts during the early 20th century. Back then, men and women had been confined thio separate social spheres, and we're limited by strict conventions of respectability amid the Victorian mentality prevalent during the 1st 15 years of the 20th century. However, women played a disproportionately large role in the powerful progressive social reform movements during that era, including the women's suffrage movement, the triumph with the passage of a constitutional amendment that gave women all across the USA the right to vote in 1920. During the twenties, women not only exercise their new political rights but also were able to assert an increased degree of economic and sexual freedom. Things turned a bit more traditional during the scarcity of the thirties, as women's gains in the workforce reviewed as a low priority compared with the difficult task of getting the massive numbers of unemployed men back to work. Still, powerful figures such as first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Labor Secretary Frances Perkins blazed a trail for female leadership roles. Traditional gender roles were reinforced in some ways during World War two, but they simultaneously broke down in other spaces with the emergence of women in military roles such as the wax or women's army corps. And on the home front, the employment of female factory workers during the Rosie the Riveter era However, by the late forties, the quick shift back to social and cultural conservatism, with its more limited concept of appropriate rules for women, was fairly dramatic. After World War two, women were encouraged to leave the workplace and take on traditional roles as wives and mothers. But the shape of gender power relations would gradually begin to change during the 19 fifties, when, after the initial post war collapse and female employment, women slowly but surely began re entering the workforce. This would sow the seeds of second wave feminism that would begin to sprout during the early sixties. Nevertheless, the era we have been looking at since the start of this podcast the late 19 forties or the beginning of a 15 year period during which divorce, homosexuality and even choosing not to get married carried a stigma. We discussed the Kinsey Report, an Episode four, and we should hear emphasize that although we're focusing on the findings related to LGBT people in order to illustrate the lavender scare, it also contained data that shocked and scandalized Americans about the many heterosexual people who admitted to extramarital sex and illicit love affairs. Although Dr Kinsey's own intention was to demystify human sexual behaviors and produce more tolerant and less shame oriented attitudes about them. His work didn't refute the reality of this era social conservatism. Given human biology and human nature, there will always be risk taking people who, because of their physical desires, will break sexual rules and taboos even in very traditional cultures. Nevertheless, during the late forties and fifties, the revival of religious enthusiasms and of traditional cultural scruples would cause many to be cautious and abstemious in terms of romantic and sexual behaviors, while others were forced to be secretive about activities that violated predominant social norms. Finally, we reach perhaps the most amorphous or hard to define aspect of the late 19 forties, which is the era's cultural mentality. The so called zeitgeist, a German term meaning the spirit of the age. The general story I have told so far in terms of American cultural moods and attitudes is one of a profound sense of confidence and optimism among the American people, but which was followed in 1949 and 1950 by an increasing sense of anxiety that forces were at work trying to undo Americans. Newfound position as the world's greatest superpower members of the public during this era, especially compared to today, had remarkable confidence in the essential goodness of the American government, the American way of life. Their fellow citizens and major national organizations. Institutions like Congress, big corporations, big labor unions, organized religious denominations and scientific organizations were far more trusted by the public than they are today. The sense of national pride, trust and self confidence would mostly hold steady into the mid 19 sixties, however, particularly among some philosophers, theologians, artists and intellectuals who are often the first one's fretting about these things. There is unease about the direction of both American culture and Western civilization in Europe. The legacy of two horrific world wars started by European powers in the 20th century had many thinkers questioning long held assumptions about the religious certainties and the assumptions of cultural superiority that had been so confidently held during the 19th century. Likewise, in the United States, deep thinkers were quite troubled by our development use and continued manufacturer of nuclear weapons, which had the potential if used widely during a major war of destroying much of the planet. For hundreds of years, many scientists had thought that their technological work would remove ancient burdens of daily life, bring intellectual enlightenment and improve health, longevity and well being for mankind. Now it seemed that science is most amazing. Breakthroughs were simply giving humanity the means to destroy itself. Such doubts were sometimes kept quiet, however, given the scrutiny that could come with those who question the American defence establishment. The brilliant physicist Robert Oppenheimer, who had helped to build the atomic bomb with the Manhattan Project in the early forties, later publicly opposed the creation of a more powerful nuclear weapon, the hydrogen bomb, because of moral concerns. Soon afterwards, others in the scientific community began questioning his loyalty, even wondering if he might be a communist sympathizer based upon Oppenheimer's current dovish attitudes and upon some past youthful left wing acquaintances and associations. As a result, Oppenheimer's security clearance for secret government scientific endeavours was revoked. People in both the sciences and the arts feared being marginalized in their professional and personal lives, which sometimes cause them to avoid questioning the status quo in Hollywood. After the scandals and investigations that caused several left wing screenwriters to be blacklisted, major studios began to shift the kinds of movies. They're making scripts that seemed too disrespectful of the American establishment or that sympathetically portrayed rebellious, marginalized groups or sometimes shelved for being subversive or unpatriotic. Hollywood release some films by the early fifties with a blatantly anti communist perspective such as My Son John. Reflecting the national mood during the red scare, it appeared that most Americans perceived their nation as upstanding and righteous and that any dissenting opinions that might shake this self confidence we're often being silenced or at least tuned out. Yet the doubts about the nuclear age being raised in highbrow magazines and an academic conferences would eventually become more widespread. The baby boomers were to remember the fear and absurdity of being told during air raid drills during the 19 fifties to duck and cover beneath their desks, as if that would offer sufficient protection from an atomic attack. Some had to assist their family to build bomb shelters. A substantial number of these boomers would eventually question the morality of a society that would take part in the nuclear arms race that amassed a global arsenal of destruction. It would take time, the seeds of disillusionment and alienation from the establishment were already being planted during their childhoods fromthe late forties to the early sixties. Next time, we will pick up on the story of how the Cold War was opening up new questions about the American juggernauts, vulnerability and new realms of domestic paranoia as we continue describing the political twists and turns of the red scare against the backdrop of American forces bogged down in a brutal stalemate in Korea during the year. 1951 a cz usual. We encourage users of Twitter and Instagram to follow us if you haven't done so already, support the show on Patri on with a donation or help us out by leaving her review on iTunes or stitcher. Let us know if you have thoughts about our show at Boomer to millennial at outlook dot com. Please do us a favor and spread the word about our show and, as always, thank you for listening