Appearing at UCSB on Sunday, former “NBC Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw said baby boomers are the “most tight-assed parents in history.”
While promoting his new book Boom! Voices of the Sixties, Brokaw touched on a variety of issues concerning the 1960s, including drug abuse, his career and the Civil Rights Movement. He also spoke of the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq at the morning Arts & Lectures event held at Campbell Hall.
Brokaw used his own experiences, as well as the interviews he conducted for his book, to discuss the ’60s and their impact on current events.
“Thank God we are still arguing about the ’60s,” Brokaw said. “That means that we haven’t lost them yet.”
During the event’s question and answer section, an audience member asked Brokaw to confirm allegations of an evening of marijuana smoking and skinny-dipping.
“I believe that journalists have an obligation to become familiar with what [they are reporting],” Brokaw said. “I experimented with marijuana like everyone did [in the ’60s], and it didn’t agree with me.”
Brokaw said the decade famous for flower children and social justice provided him with many interesting interviews in his reporting career.
“People often ask me who was the most memorable person I ever interviewed,” Brokaw said. “For me, the lasting impression of the civil rights workers in the South and the antiwar activists across America are at the top of that list.”
Brokaw spent much of his lecture discussing the turbulence of 1968, sharing stories about the social and political disagreements of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. Brokaw also said the key difference between the Vietnam War and the wars currently being fought in both Afghanistan and Iraq is the current lack of a draft.
“We have young, working-class men and women going on patrols in places where they don’t even speak the language,” Brokaw said. “However you feel about the war, the major difference today [is that] we are not required to serve our country, unlike Vietnam.”
Brokaw also touched on the topic of advancements in communication technology. He said he was astonished by the transformations in technology today, and that they were something he never expected back in his early days in journalism.
“With all this new technology, we are in the midst of a second big bang,” Brokaw said. “Today, in villages without running water, people are connecting to the Internet.”
While drawing many laughs from the at-capacity crowd, Brokaw also spoke about issues of current concern. Brokaw said America’s anti-drug establishment should consider educational schemes rather than simple enforcement of laws in its quest to curb drug abuse.
“I think that we need to approach the drug culture differently,” Brokaw said. “Just like we can’t deal with Islamic insurgency with military force alone, we can’t expect law enforcement to [defeat] drug abuse.”