I am creeped out by the increasing dogmatism and intolerance of millennials on the left; I felt a generational divide open up under me last year when everyone under 40 seemed to agree that Dana Schutz’s painting of Emmett Till in his coffin should be removed from the Whitney Biennial. When I was young it seemed the natural order of things that conservatives were the prudes and scolds who wanted books banned and exhibitions closed, while we liberals got to be the gadflies and iconoclasts. I know that whenever you disapprove of young people, you’re in the wrong, because you’re going to die and they’ll get to write history, but I just can’t help noticing that the liberal side isn’t much fun to be on anymore.
Yet this uprising of the young against the ossified, monolithic power of the National Rifle Association has reminded me that the flaws of youth — its ignorance, naïveté and passionate, Manichaean idealism — are also its strengths. Young people have only just learned that the world is an unfair hierarchy of cruelty and greed, and it still shocks and outrages them. They don’t understand how vast and intractable the forces that have shaped this world really are and still think they can change it. Revolutions have always been driven by the young.