Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Days

A poll in the Washington Post shows that people are angry:

Of the 26 percent of people who described themselves as “angry” about the new law in a recent Washington Post poll, virtually all also said the country was on the wrong track. In follow-up interviews, many went beyond health care as they spoke of their deep misgivings about the country’s leadership and the changes taking place around them.

“I grew up in the ’50s,” said Hugh Pearson, 63, a retired builder from Bakersfield, Calif. “That was a wonderful time. Nobody was getting rich, nobody was doing everything big. But it was ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ days, ‘Leave It to Beaver’-type stuff. Now we have all this MTV, expose-yourself stuff, and we have no morality left, not even by the legislators.”

Well, yeah, I grew up in the 1950’s, too, and it was a wonderful time — because I was a kid, not much younger than Mr. Pearson, who would have been 13 when the ’50’s ended. So he wouldn’t remember that the 1950’s also had segregated schools, Little Rock, “duck and cover,” Joe McCarthy, red-baiting, HUAC, and the Edsel, or if he does, they didn’t matter to him. It was all “Ozzie and Harriet” and “Leave It to Beaver” if you were a white middle-class American who went to the right — Protestant — church and your biggest fear was growing out of your Davy Crockett coonskin cap.

It’s easy to be nostalgic about the “good old days,” especially if they never happened, and it’s easy to use that an excuse for trying to justify your fear and loathing for a time when being white and privileged makes you the same as everybody else.