Saturday, August 09, 2014
CNN: "The Times They Are a-Changin'" episode in "The Sixties", re-airs Friday night after pre-emption by Middle East crisis
CNN finally took a break from all the coverage of international crises (Gaza, Ukraine, ISIS), to re-broadcast the latest installment of the Sixties, “The Times, They Are A-Changin’”, press link here. The original airing on Aug. 7 had been interrupted after the first 25 minutes by Breaking News from the Middle East.
The decade had started with even President Kennedy playing just lip service to the idea of women’s equality, even though the appointed a commission to study it in 1961. One pundit said that a husband steers the horses; if you have two at the helm, the horse will waver. Betty Friedan, who had created a precedent for married women returning to work after childbirth back around 1957, wrote her famous book “The Feminine Mystique”. Women began to see that the basic relationship between the sexes needed to change. This wasn’t just evolution, it was revolution, and it was high time for it to happen.
Alongside the women’s movement would be gay rights, to culminate with the Stonewall Rebellion in New York City in June 1969. But in 1967, CBS, with Mike Wallace, had produced the horrible black-and-white special “The Homosexuals”, on which Dean Rusk, secretary of state then, said “if we find homosexuals in the State Department, we discharge them”, and gay men were interviewed in shadows. Wallace mentioned the fear of imprisonment and the “closet”. There were actual rings to “inform on homosexuals”. Barney Frank appears. The story of Frank Kameny, and his firing in 1957, was presented. The Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis were mentioned. Until 1973, the American Psychiatric Association described homosexuality as “mental illness” and sometimes reparative therapy was pursued.
In the Sixties, the idea that a man could become sexually interested and engaged with one woman for a lifetime, when that woman (as well as, of course, the children) would depend on the man economically, was becoming challenged, and this frightened many men, as it does today in many parts of the world (most of all, in Islam).
The Sixties also marked a beginning for environmentalism, as with Rachel Carson’s “The Silent Spring”.
Conservatism was apparent but it began to splinter. Liberals, after all, had supported social conservatism until the Kennedy years. Barry Goldwater’s 1964 run for the presidency predicted libertarianism. “Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice”. Goldwater would later support lifting the ban on gays in the military in the 1990s. “You don’t have to be straight to shoot straight.”