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Comparing the uprisings of the 1960s to today's college protests

To the editor: William Frey makes some very good arguments to recalibrate the educational system in the U.S. to be more inclusive, not only for the benefit of students that are nonwhite, but for the vitality of the middle class. ("The new racial generation gap," Opinion, Dec. 29)

Where he takes a big swing and a miss is when he asserts that young people in the 1960s had little to complain about. Frey may have forgotten the little matter of the universal military draft hanging over the heads of millions of young Americans. Between African Americans shaming America by asserting their rights and a long, unpopular and demoralizing war fought by the young, that generation gained a voice and used it profoundly.

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Demographers have predicted the clash between seniors and young people for years. A society that is inclusive is a healthy society that benefits all of its members.

The long-haired, hippie freaks and war protesters of the '60s have become the angry old white men of the 21st century.

Michael McGuire, Lakewood

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To the editor: Having been an activist in the '60s, I can add another dimension to the differences between the predominantly white activists of then and the more diversified activists of today.

Frey shuns the fact that '60s activists had a much greater knowledge of the history and institutions of our great nation as compared to the minority activists of today. They practice a new orthodoxy as a collection of self-serving interest groups, promoting their cultural differences instead of seeking to build upon the commonalties that unite us.

Consequently, as the late liberal historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. so appropriately observed in his book, "The Disuniting of America," this cult of ethnicity poses an even greater danger of contributing to the "fragmentation, resegregation, and tribalization of American life."

Jim Redhead, San Diego

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To the editor: Frey believes that "older, white Americans need to recognize diversity's importance to the nation's future, and once and for all realize that the 1960s are long gone." While I tend to agree in the abstract, I'm not holding my breath waiting for this to happen. People in that generation seem overcome by fear of the future and still desperately cling to an image of the country that is not coming back. Their emails to each other reinforce this with a sense of anger over the country's future.

They thus fall prey to demagogic politicians who promise to restore a past that will never come back.

Joe Bonino, Glendale 

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