Antipathy is extreme dislike or hate.
Antipathy toward youth is spreading wider throughout our society than ever before. Often cloaked in cynicism, antipathy is a dangerously current phenomenon. Politicians mocks young people, teachers eschew their jobs, and even parents share a kind of pathetic “buyers remorse” for the people they brought into the world.
There are all kinds of reasons that are expressed and underexpressed for this. Sociologist Mike Males has long contended that the ephebiphobia– extreme fear of youth- that rips up our society is the product of racism, and the reality that America is becoming predominately people of color. I believe antipathy has those exact same roots, with an extension beyond obvious skin color and towards the cultures that young people are influenced by, the education that young people are receiving, and the beliefs that young people express.
There is always a fear of the unknown, especially when they’re knocking at your door or living under the same roof. The question is whether we are ready to become familiar with that which we don’t know, or if we’re going to shun, reject, deny, and punish that which we don’t know.
The Chinese Communists apparently have this same struggle. In the face of the aging Party leadership, they are struggling to instill and maintain the interest of young people in Communism, and not simply because they don’t know how. Apparently, there is a deep-seeded antipathy toward youth in China, with party leaders long criticizing and demeaning young people. They demanded a kind of social conformity and enforced a rigidity designed to malign the inherently progressive nature of young people while reinforcing the conservativism of their brand of socialism.
The dilemmas of antipathy toward youth are innumerable. Political antipathy toward youth is critically irresponsible, and is echoed across the aisle. During his campaign for president early this year former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich proposed legislated hatred, suggesting that, “It wouldn’t be bad to have a test for young Americans before they start voting,” making a comparison to the citizenship test new immigrants are required to take. This is a thinly veiled antipathy, suggesting that Gingrich believes all youth are suspect criminals who have to “earn” citizenship rights in addition to the qualification of age. It’s one or the other, not both. It’s bad enough that the political infrastructure of the U.S. reinforces second-tiered citizenship for American children and youth; Gingrich seems to believe that adding injury upon insult is more apt. That’s hatred at it’s best.
At it’s worse, antipathy towards youth gets very ugly, very fast. The War On Youth has been raging in this country for at least 30 years; some would suggest it goes back to the beginning of the Commercial Age. It is definitely the grand reinforcer of discrimination against youth, and certainly calls for a radical redefinition of values in this country if we are to defeat it. Recently we’ve seen antipathy toward youth take the form of defunding public education and healthcare for children; the criminalization of youth through curfews, dress codes, and raised driving ages; and myriad more examples. It’s mildly sickening, mostly because we know the outcomes from this type of rage. The 1960s didn’t happen by accident.
And ultimately, that is my concern: We are fomenting revolution in the U.S. today. Young people here aren’t going to sit idly by and watch the youth of the Middle East demand democracy while they suffer authoritarianism at it’s worst. Antipathy toward youth is enforced through authoritarianism towards young people, and both of those phenomena are on the rise.
Something must be done differently. Learn how.
- I Hate Young People – “I Hate Young People is a website for those of us who are out of our cavity-prone years and tired of feeling marginalized by a generation capable of little more than whining, tweeting and playing “Grand Theft Auto.””
- “Why I Hate Young People” – A blog entry that includes, “Young people can be very annoying, and everyone knows this – even children…”
- “Why Older People Hate Gen Y” – Australia’s Daily Telegraph published this jewel of an article back in 2008. “The gist is this: Old people frothing about how young people don’t work hard enough, have entitlement issues, are too goddamn optimistic and wear their pants too low.”
- “I Hate Young People” – An 18-year-old shares his disdain for popular culture, which he masks as antipathy for his own generation. And hipster mag McSweeney’s gave him an award for it.
- “Do Adults Really Hate Young People?” – New Zealand’s Green Party wonders if its true, then lists all the ways it is, and still has the gall to ask if its so at the end.
- I Hate Young People – Another website all about antipathy for youth, this one focused on pitching a tv show! “We want you to create a video of yourself explaining what you hate the most about young people. It’s your chance to rant and rave and vent about the younger generation.”