Diversity -- with the exception of homophobia -- was beginning to be commonly accepted and praised. Technology -- such as the use of DNA in criminology and the introduction of the PC -- was becoming more prominent in the lives of everyday Americans. In the Cold War, President Gorbachev asked for openness and economic freedom, while President Reagan asked him to tear down the Berlin Wall, which he did. However, the discovery of AIDS had a far more profound impact on the American people than any of these events. In 1981, the first case of AIDS was reported in the United Kingdom, and this eventually caused quite a crisis in the U.S., as it was first noticed among gay men, and then in women and children as well. People became scared because they were not sure what was causing the disease. Research continued throughout the 1980s, but the fear caused by the disease led some to believe it could be transmitted by normal -- rather than sexual or blood-to-blood -- contact. In addition, the appearance of the disease in gay men made many accuse the gay community of the disease and lead to hatred and fear of both gays and Haitians, who were among those at risk ("History of AIDS," 2009). The impact of this disease has greatly influenced Americans and those all over the world, staring in the 1980s until today. Discovery Health calls the disease a "pandemic" and warns that cases are growing ("HIV / AIDS," 2009). Because no cure exists, it is a frightening condition, and its discovery in the 1980s has resulted in many of the precautions that we currently take today. In addition, it is the cause for the stigmatization of gay people and Africans even today.
The fear of AIDS continued into the 1990s, where it was joined by Mad Cow Disease and Y2K as prominent fears of the era. The 1990s saw the election of the first Democratic President -- Bill Clinton -- since LBJ, and tumultuous affairs in Africa, such as the Rwandan genocide and the release of Nelson Mandela. The Internet, which was actually invented in the 1970s, but became popular and was used by the general public in the 1990s was an event of the 1990s that cannot be equaled in scale. In 1996, 25 million computers in 180 countries were linked to the ever-growing Internet ("Fascinating Facts," 2007). However, the event that impacted the American people of the 1990s the most was the end of the Cold War, which officially concluded in 1992. With the end of the Cold War came an end to a shadow that was controlling and driving much of American Activity since the end of WWII. Hoffman (2004) writes that the conflict consumed both the United States and Soviet Union for 46 years, cost billions, and led to the development of dangerous weapons of mass destruction (para. 1). With the end of the cold war, no longer was the world a bipolar community with Soviet and American powers of equal strength but different ideals staring each other down and waiting for one to break. Instead, the world became a multipolar community with the United States a major power against conglomerations, like the European Union, and African Union. The launch of the Internet, as well as the affordability of air travel, introduction of the cell phone, and other advances in telecommunications, helped push America into the age of the global civil society through the end of the Cold War -- impacting the American People forever.
Thus, the end of WWII was the end of an old era, and the beginning of the modern era started with its completion. However, the end of the Cold War and entrance into the new millennium can be seen as an even newer era -- a postmodern era -- that is filled with technology, globalization, and the return of the political left. Based on the important events that occurred during the decades after WWII, it is likely that the American people will see an ever-increasing dependence on technology. A new counterculture, which has already begun to arise, will embrace that technology and will not only fight for social justice, but will question the economic condition of the United States and the dependence on work, stocks, and modern conveniences. Health scares will continue to be rampant, as can be seen with the recent H1N1 virus scare, and researchers will continue to work to find cures, some of that work being successful. But most importantly, no matter how the world changes in the post-modern era, people will still continue to work for what is right and fight for those rights above all things.
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