There is an ever-increasing trend to diminish the contribution of the white male to society, let alone old white males. For example, some demonstrators in 2018 at an anti-Trump demonstration in London carried placards saying ‘no country for white old male’. Well guess what, people in the US voted in an even older white male, President Biden. And the leader of the Congress in the US is an old white woman, Nancy Pelosi, who is even older than President Biden.
Recently a number of EU countries, including Germany and France, announced that they will not vaccinate the people over 65 with the AstraZeneca vaccine as they are ineffective for that age group (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9214625/AstraZeneca-Covid-19-vaccine-not-recommended-65s-Sweden.html). This claim has been denied by the British Prime Minister and members of the scientific community. This action by some EU countries is more likely to be a reaction to their own failure of rolling out their Covid-19 vaccination program.
So do old white people, let alone old white men, deserve the respect of more recent generations? Well as an aging, white male, I believe than we more that deserve their respect, just as our parents’ generation deserved our respect.
This blog is about contrasting the fortunes of the post war generation to the current generations
2. Each generation stands on the shoulders of the previous generation
My parents’ generation in the post-World War Two period rebuilt the public and productive infrastructure and housing stocks in Europe (and many other places) and laid the economic foundations for my generation. In addition, many of them had to survive the horrors of Stalin and Mao, who killed as many or close to as many people as Hitler(https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2018/02/05/who-killed-more-hitler-stalin-or-mao/). The troops US, Europe and Australia were also involved in the Vietnam War leading to more hardship. But there have been many other wars in the second half of the 20th century in other parts of the world causing more hardship. (https://www.historyguy.com/major_wars_20th_century.htm). Despite of all these, the living standard continued to rise during the second half of the 20th Century due to the effort of men and women of my parents’ generation. Many of them have passed on by now, but some of them, including old white men, are still alive. And I am grateful to each and every one of them.
My generation, the baby boomers, made significant contributions to the current generations (generation X, generation Y or Millennials and generation Z or Centennials) both in terms of political and scientific advancement. Perhaps the greatest achievement of my generation has been that we did not start another World War, although there have been a number of significant but somewhat localized conflicts in the world. Furthermore, we have enhanced the freedom of humanity, at least in the Western world, as symbolized by the removal of the Berlin Wall. Unquestionably there is much more to do which is highlighted by the struggle by women for their freedom and equal rights in many parts of the world.
The economic and social contribution by the baby boomers from physics and biology through medical science to computer science has led to some remarkable achievements. These include, amongst many other things; enough food produced for the ever-growing world population (even if the distribution of food is inadequate), life expectancy is increasing all around the world and mobile telephones, internet and laptops are part of everyday life.
Remarkably most of these scientific achievements have been driven by white male scientists(https://www.thefamouspeople.com/20th-century-scientists.php), but the landscape is changing. As women and minorities gain their rightful place in society, the balance of scientific contribution will change. This has already happened in politics, where many nations had female Prime Ministers (UK, Israel, India) or a Chancellor (Germany) and President of non-white background (USA).
But all this does not diminish the incredible contribution of all white male scientist of the baby boomers’ generation. I salute all of the scientists and I am grateful to all of them regardless of their gender and colour.
3. Current generations- think about this
The current leaders of the cancel culture, supporters of the idea of ‘white privilege’ and anti-old white men should remember the following points.
You may be ‘revolutionary’ and criticise the achievements of the previous generation (mainly by now white old men), but you can do this because of what the baby boomers have achieved. At the end of the day, the current generation will inherit the benefits of all the baby boomers accumulated wealth either through their families or through the much enhanced social security system from governments whose wealth is based on taxes gained from the private sector. Therefore, you should be grateful for all old white men (and women of course) and ask yourself this; what is the contribution your generation is making to the next generation?
Furthermore, you may rule the roost right now, but you will also(hopefully) become an old person and the next generation will take over from you. I just hope that future generations will not remember unkindly to those of you, who did not respect the baby boomers and ‘cancel’ you.
Each generation stands on the shoulders of previous generations.
The post war generation rebuilt the political and economic infrastructure of the World.
The baby-boomers built on those foundations mainly led by today’s ‘old white men’.
Current generations should remember all the above or take History101, Economics 101 and Science 101 classes.
The current generation can only expect the same respect from the next generation as they show to the baby-boomers including all the ‘old white men.’