Brian Baker: In response

On Dec. 8, The Signal published two letters, one from Jerome Marder and one from Roselva Ungar, commenting on my last column. As a writer, I have to say that I find it gratifying that my scribbling was effective enough to stimulate such responses. To Mr. Marder, I’d like to say, “Thank you for those very kind words. I appreciate them very much. Let’s hope that, together, we can effect that meaningful change you mention.” To Ms. Ungar, let me respond with this: I’m not surprised that you disagree with me, as we’re on different ends of the spectrum, but let me address your points. First of all, how can you claim I ignored the effects of the Vietnam War? The rise of the “counter-culture” and the 1968 riots in Chicago, which I detailed as part of the column, were driven by many issues, and primary among them was protest over that war. So it was right there. The purpose of the column wasn’t to detail the minutiae of history; I’m not Ken Burns. But that war also wasn’t the only issue of the era. As to “declaring that focusing on electing people to improve good policy is ‘unrealistic’”, I did no such thing. I think there are plenty of people we can elect who would support “good policies.” What I think is unrealistic is Maria Gutzeit’s expressed opinion that those people are non-partisan. I don’t think anything is “non-partisan” in this era, which was one of the major points of my column. Nor do I yearn for the Greatest Generation.” Mentioning it doesn’t mean I yearn for it. I’m fully aware of the historical arc involved; it’s what I wrote about. But anyone who thinks that we’re in a political environment that fosters cooperation and comity simply isn’t paying attention. Again, exactly what I wrote about in that column. In my opinion, just as I wrote in the column regarding Maria’s hope for that kumbaya moment, we’re in a cultural civil war in this country. Explaining it, as I did, doesn’t mean I like it or want it. It just is. It’s not going to go away just because we simply stick our heads in the sand and pretend it isn’t happening. Brian Baker Saugus