Still embrace America

IT may be America was “once super cool, (but) it’s now quite scary” as Justin Smith asserts (Opinion, 19/7), but having grown up in the 50s and 60s, I have a different perspective.

There was certainly “a strong connection” between Australia and America then, and America’s power was in its “music, movies, food and language” as well as for its TV shows, authors, artists, some politicians and sexual liberation of women.

However, there was a tragic turning point when JFK was assassinated. The Vietnam War, thousands of GI deaths and student protests as well as the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy ensued.

That reality seemed extremely “scary”, contradicting the propaganda, to paraphrase Noam Chomsky, of America as “a serious beacon of democracy, freedom and all that other good stuff”.

Travelling to Europe in 1969, I befriended many young Americans dodging the draft to stay alive, bemoaning the country’s emphasis on materialism and its military might.

After visiting New York, I changed my perspective completely. It was pre-Roe v Wade (1973), but the attitudes about empowering women far transcended those in Australia. I embraced America, and still do.