These are the times that try gender-fluid souls. The Hulu soldier and the GrubHub patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country.
I had to get out of coronavirus lockdown to run some errands the last couple of days. Traffic is way down, which is nice, but seeing so many empty parking lots is heartbreaking. Those empty spaces mean shuttered businesses, lost wages, lost jobs and lost dreams. Coronavirus is a real crisis of public health and the economy. It’s the most significant crisis Americans have faced together since 9/11, and it’s more insidious and disturbing just because of what it is.
On 9/11 we saw a recognizable enemy who wanted to kill us and our way of life. Thousands of young Americans volunteered to go fight that enemy in their al Qaeda spider holes. The coronavirus isn’t even a visible thing, but the damage it is doing now will be with us for years to come. This is a defining moment for all of us.
But do you know what’s driving me crazy in all this? America’s supposed future.
The Gen Z spring breakers and covidiots — the ones who lick toilet bowls and handle microphones and end up spreading the contagion. We’ve gone from the Greatest Generation to the Dumbest and Whiniest Generation so fast it’s shocking. I saw a Gen-Zer guy on Facebook the other day publicly complaining that his flights to Europe keep getting canceled — when more than 3 million Americans had just filed for unemployment and have seen their life savings evaporate in the stock market. I wanted to take him by the lapels (except he wasn’t wearing any), shake him and say “Don’t you know there’s a worldwide pandemic on?”
Generations before us dealt with decades of real misery and threat. Just in the last century they had World War I. That ended at the same time the Spanish Flu pandemic kicked in. That bug swept the globe when viral infections and cleanliness standards were poorly understood, and an estimated 50 million died worldwide as a result.
After the Spanish Flu we had the Roaring Twenties but that was over almost as soon as it had begun. The 1929 stock market crash ushered in the Great Depression. Despite what liberal historians like Doris Kearns Goodwin tell you, FDR and the New Deal did not end the Depression. Roosevelt’s unconstitutional actions put people to work on socialist programs but made the nation’s economic posture much worse. The New Deal was a bust. World War II ended the Depression.
The Greatest Generation lived through all that and conquered it. They were kids who lost their fathers and uncles in the first Great War. They lost mothers and siblings to the Spanish Flu and then when they came of age, they had to fight the most violent devastating war in human history. They all grew up wanting to see Rome and Paris, but not while Nazis were trying to kill them. And they didn’t have Facebook so they could check on their loved ones back home after a hard day of slogging across the battlefields of Italy or North Africa. The mail back and forth to the frontlines was slow. Letters often arrived back home after the soldiers who wrote them had given their lives in battle on some distant island.
Those were tough times. Really tough times. And they made tough people. You almost never heard a Greatest Generation member complain about anything. Be thankful we don’t have to fight WWII tomorrow. There’s no Xbox in the Ardennes Forest.
Today’s rising generations are cut from different cloth. They aren’t being asked to hold off the enemy while thousands escape Dunkirk. They aren’t being asked to compile lists of people they can save from a mass murdering monster, at risk to their own lives. They aren’t being asked to defend the walls of the Alamo or eat their shoes and horses during a terrible winter in Valley Forge. They aren’t being asked to march towards Gettysburg or even field strip a rifle on Saipan. They aren’t being asked to hang together for liberty, or hang separately from a gallows.
They’re literally being asked to do nothing for a few weeks to help contain the virus. Theirs is not a call to arms, it’s a call to Netflix and chill. It’s a call to binge Riverdale and Vanderpump Rules. Which they do most of the time anyway. This Gen-Z apocalypse now is being televised in 24-hour media frenzies designed to create panic and deflect attention from the fact that communist Chinese Bernie Bro types lied and our economy died.
So you can’t go to that wine tasting in Tuscany or Napa right now. Italy can’t find enough space to bury its dead at the moment. Your whine doesn’t need an accompanying gourmet taleggio.
The call to stay home and stay a few feet apart is not exactly climbing a volcano under enemy fire to raise the American flag. In fact, millions of young Americans wouldn’t even raise Old Glory if it were up to them. It’s not woke transinclusive enough to shed a tear over, let alone a drop of blood. According to their official generational historian, Colin Kaepernick, the American flag represents slavery. Just loathe it.
Ask urban hipsters not what they can do for their country, not when they’re too busy waiting on Uber Eats to bring them avocado toast and fusion fried rice from the local artisanal fair trade communal coffee shop.
Previous generations forged this nation out of wilderness. They threw off an imperial tyrant against all the odds. They made the world safe for democracy — twice — and then defeated communism in the Cold War. They handed us the strongest, freest, fairest and most prosperous nation the world has ever seen. They gave us a Pax Americana that allows us to buy goods from anywhere, work anywhere, and go anywhere. All we have to do is keep it. That world has hit a bump, a temporary disruption thanks to a very bad bug and the Maoists who tried to cover it up.
Young people are not storming beaches, they’re storming their couches waiting for a $1,200 stimulus check. They would never shout “Give me liberty or give me death.” Not when the Amazon Prime truck is just 8 stops away.
A.J. Rice is CEO of Publius PR, a premier communications firm in Washington D.C. Rice is a brand manager, star-whisperer and auteur media influencer, who has produced or promoted Laura Ingraham, Donald Trump Jr., Judge Jeanine Pirro, Monica Crowley, Charles Krauthammer, Alan Dershowitz, Roger L. Simon, Steve Hilton, Victor Davis Hanson, and many others. Find out more at publiuspr.com.