Eclectic commentary from a progressive voice in the reddest part of the red state

Thursday, September 17, 2015

More misguided propaganda -- and a deconstruction of it

Nick Gerlich, a professor of marketing at West Texas A&M University, posted in his blog a discussion of the Amarillo Millennial Movement, comparing these youth to the Baby Boomers who protested the Viet Nam War. Gerlich portrays these youth as victimized by the older generation because the some of their elders are not taking them seriously.

But, Gerlich is as misguided as this youthful friends. Herewith is a deconstruction of his blog post.

A Different Voice

I am a Baby Boomer. Born in 1959, I was one of the later ones to call this cohort mine. We were a rambunctious group of ne-erdowells. We played our music loud. We protested the View Nam War. We indulged in the free-loving culture of the day. And we wore our hair and clothes in ways that made our parents cringe.

I am a pre-Baby Boomer, technically, with a 1945 birthday, but see myself more of a Boomer than a pre-Boomer. That said, Nick, I also didn’t like the Viet Nam War (maybe the View Nam War refers to it as the first real war brought into the nation’s living rooms on TV. Quite the Freudian slip for you.) However, wearing clothes and listening to music that outraged our elders was not the exclusive domain of Boomers. It’s always been a generation thing. Do study history.

But more than anything, we just wanted people to listen to us. The status quo was to be defied. Our mantra was Question Authority (and sometimes more vulgar).

Again, not the exclusive domain for you.

Somewhere along the line, though, we got a bit older, cut our hair, started families, bought houses in the suburbs, and became Republicans. In other words, we became our parents.

No we didn’t. We became somewhat more permissive and a lot more thoughtful than our parents. And less harsh and more nuanced in our child-rearing. In part, it’s because we didn’t endure the Great Depression like our parents did. Or flee our homeland; or, fight World War II, which was seen as a legitimate war.

History has a funny way of repeating itself, though. Today’s Millennials (those born more or less  between 1980 and 2000) are in many ways like my generation: vocal, passionate, and desirous of change. I see that spirit (and yes, it is a spirit!) in Amarillo among a youngish crowd seeking change in our downtown. The Amarillo Millennial Movement has mobilized its forces, has a social media presence on Facebook, and is actively campaigning for downtown development and anything else that will help make Amarillo a place that they want to live.

No, Nick. You really have this quite wrong — unless as a professor of marketing you have hard data to back up your assertions. But as a long-time journalist and one who has extensively covered downtown development, Wallace Bajjali and the poor judgment of the then-City Commission and now the City Council, I see this differently. If you knew the connections between Brian Eades, one of the city councilors responsible for the downtown development debacle, you’d know these kids are not on some spontaneous spirit-inspired epiphany. It’s a calculated political move, in part evidence by the fact that the AMM is registered as a type of PAC.

And it isn’t pushing for downtown development in total. It’s pushing for the so-called MPEV. A glorified ballpark. They didn’t give a damn about the downtown development until the new City Council was elected and the supporters of the Wallace Bajjali-Downtown Amarillo Inc.-Amarillo Globe-News plan was put on the ballot for November, thus jeopardizing the insiders’ deals.

How do I know this? I’m an investigative reporter and I’ve seen documents. Have you?

And not move somewhere else.

Yes, they will. For reasons other than some pathetic ballpark. It’s because Amarillo doesn’t have the upscale jobs base for the good kids from good programs that WT and AC are turning out. Oh, sure. Some of the teachers and health care grads will stay here because we do have the jobs base. So will some of the ag-related majors. But don’t kid yourself. We really don’t have the jobs base they really need.

The only problem is, their Baby Boomer elders are being less than receptive to this new voice, in spite of the fact that we belly-ached for change ourselves some 40-50 years ago.

We have a lot of people the same age as those active in the AMM who disagree with the AMM’s entire approach and premise and see through their charade. And, perhaps the elders who aren’t listening to the AMM, such as me for example, is because I believe they are ill-informed, manipulated and basically too naive to realize they are merely pawns in a larger battle.

Critics respond that Amarillo Millennials do not work, do not pay taxes, and by virtue of this, do not have much of an economic impact at the local level. That was true of my generation years ago, too, but that never stopped us from being loud…and being heard.

See above. The critics I know take issue with the AMM for the reasons I outlined above.

Our local activists want a town that appeals to their sensibilities. They want downtown entertainment. They want downtown living. They want a pedestrian-friendly downtown. They want downtown shopping and dining. They are in favor of the new MPEV (Multi-Purpose Event Center), parking, and retail district.

You really have that quite wrong, as I pointed out above. Their interest in the other elements of downtown development arose only in conjunction with them being sucked into supporting the Wallace Bajjali-Downtown Amarillo Inc.-Amarillo Globe-News stadium. In fact, I’ve had Facebook conversations with some of the AMM members who have misquoted me, misquoted The Amarillo Independent and relied only on information from Downtown Amarillo Inc. You know, the DAI leadership of Les Simpson and Melissa Dailey who brought us Wallace Bajjali. You know, the DAI and Globe-News that claimed due diligence. And, trust me on this prediction, the people who are still wedded to Wallace Bajjali’s ideas will face massive embarrassment.

And all they get are complaints about how or why this won’t work in Amarillo. It might cost taxpayers a few bucks. It’s too hot in Amarillo. Cold. Windy. No one lives there. No one wants to live there. It’s too dangerous downtown (Really? I grew up in Chicago. This place is soooo safe!).

Whatevs. Just tell us you don’t want change, and you will be a lot more believable.

“Whatev.”

Really? Nice try at humor, but the situation isn’t funny. Those “complaints” you so cavalierly dismiss are legitimate. Just saying they aren’t, or calling us negative and all the other well-worn Joseph Goebbels propaganda techniques won’t change the facts or the overall truth derived from those facts. In part, every time we learn more facts, we also find that Dailey, Simpson, DAI, the Amarillo Economic Development Corp., the Local Government Corp. and Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone have misrepresented the plans and contracts — misrepresented, hell, they have lied. That, too, is on will be revealed because, as a journalist, I have faith that in the end the truth wins out. Oh, and then there’s that pesky FBI and grand jury investigation. Oops.

As an educator, I have always sided with youth. After all, they have a lot more future to live than my cronies and I do. I may be getting a little bit on the old side, but my heart is still young…and it is kept young by my students. I believe in them. I trust them. I love them. They can see the future from here, while my cohort has a better view of the past.

That’s all very sweet. It’s all well and good to love, trust and side with them, but it’s misguided in two respects. First, if their view of the future isn’t informed by the past, then they are condemned to repeat the errors of the past.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” George Santayana, “The Life of Reason,” 1905.

Further, the youth you mention have no monopoly on seeing the future. Alvin Toffler was age 42 when he published “Future Shock” in 1970 and 52-years-old when he published “The Third Wave.” Those are both futurist works, looking to the future with a respect for the past.


Second, while as an educator you can side with the young, you also have a leadership responsibility toward those same young people. And part of the responsibility is as a role model. To me that means showing more respect for the facts, evidence and “truth” rather than the emotions which the writing above reflects.

And I want to see more of these brilliant Millennials stay in Amarillo. The future is theirs, not mine. Too my contemporaries dismissing the redevelopment project out of hand, I say it’s time to let go.

Let go? Of what? That’s the same rhetoric the AMM and Advance Amarillo people are using. And I counter that the elections in May have consequences and no amount of denial will change the implication — that voters in Amarillo saw through, finally, the lies and spin from the Globe-News, DAI and the now former members of the City Council.

Let go? Maybe the AMM people would face that facts and let go of the illusion that they aren’t any more than useful idiots — pawns in a greater scheme. A scheme, I might add, that could be more embarrassing for the city’s leadership than anyone imagine. And a revelation that some people think they are untouchable either by the law or by democracy.

You know. Kind of like we begged of our parents and grandparents.

Dr “Move On“ Gerlich

As Toffler pointed out in “Future Shock” by quoting Herbert Gerjuoy: “The new education must teach the individual how to classify and reclassify information, how to evaluate its veracity, how to change categories when necessary, how to move from the concrete to the abstract and back, how to look at problems from a new direction — how to teach himself.”

Peace out.

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