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June 8, 2015

“Don’t trust anyone over 30” – or under 30 (or over 40)…


THE FAMOUS SIXTIES SLOGAN:

“Don’t trust anyone over 30.” 
       Jack Weinberg
       American political activist  
       A saying based on a comment Weinberg made to a reporter in 1964
       This famed Sixties slogan has been attributed to various people, most frequently to Yippie leader Jerry Rubin. Rubin and his Yippie pals did use and help popularize the catchphrase to appeal to young supporters (and because they enjoyed annoying older mainstream Americans). However, most sources agree that the real credit for the saying belongs to Jack Weinberg.
       In November 1964, Weinberg was an organizer of “Free Speech Movement” protests at the Berkeley campus of the University of California. At one event, a San Francisco Chronicle reporter asked him if the actions of students were being directed behind the scenes by Communists (a common claim at the time). Weinberg responded: “We have a saying in the movement that we don’t trust anybody over 30.”
       The line was picked up by other news reports and then by other activists, usually in the form “Don’t trust anyone over 30” or “Never trust anyone over 30.” Weinberg later said his remark to the reporter was an off-the-cuff quip he made as “a way of telling the guy to back off, that nobody was pulling our strings.” It’s not clear if the saying actually existed before Weinberg made his remark, but he has since been given (and takes) credit for coining it.


AN IRONIC RECENT USE:

“I’m going to make something entertaining. I grew up in the era of don’t trust anyone over 30. I still believe that.”
      
George Lucas
       American film director
       A consciously ironic comment made by the 70-year-old director at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival 
       The photo at left is Lucas as a teenager. Given his Star Wars and Indiana Jones movie series, I suspect he’s still a teenager at heart in terms of his taste in movies. (Like me. And I’m 65.)


THE BLACK PANTHER’S COUNTERQUOTE:

“There are people over 30 I trust. I’m over 30, and I trust me.”
      
Eldridge Cleaver (1935-1998)
       American writer, 1960s Black Panther Party leader  
       Remark in an interview in Playboy, December 1968 in response to the question by interviewer Nat Hentoff: “Do you agree with those who feel that this generation of youth is going to ‘sell out’ to the status quo as it moves into middle age?”
       Cleaver’s full response to the question was: “I expect all of us will become somewhat less resilient as we get into our 40s and 50s—if we live that long—and I'm sure that those who come after us will look back on us as being conservative. Even us Panthers. But I don’t think this generation will become as rigid as the ones before; and, for that matter, I don’t write off all older people right now. There are a lot of older whites and blacks who keep working for change. So there are people over 30 I trust. I’m over 30, and I trust me.”


THE QUOTE MAVEN’S TWEAK:

“Never trust anyone over-dirty.”
      
Robert Byrne 
       American writer and novelist best known for as the editor of five popular collections of humorous quotations 
       Quoting himself in his book 1,911 Best Things Anybody Ever Said


THE AGING BOOMER UPDATE:

“Some aging Boomers are now more likely to mutter under their breath, ‘Don’t trust anyone under thirty.’ So it goes.”
      
Mary Ann Wynkoop
       Professor of History Emerita at the University of Missouri-Kansas City
       In her book Dissent in the Heartland: The Sixties


AN EARLY PRECURSOR:

“Every man over forty is a scoundrel.”
      
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
       Irish playwright and social critic 
       In “Maxims for Revolutionists,” part of the written appendix of his play Man and Superman (1903) 
       (At left is a photo of Shaw at age 43, looking a bit, er, scoundrelish.)

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