Analysis of media issues, politics and current events.
A Jew, a black guy and an Italian guy walk in a bar…and quickly leave because this joke takes place in the 1950s. Just wanted to point out that at one time that wasn’t a joke because of then-considered standard cultural norms.
My, how things have changed. And as those changes happen, it can scare people. Change brings fear for those who see uncertainty or potential loss of things that make life normal, predictable. It’s why we love tradition. Certainty we can cling to. In that context, the 1950s have become a sort of teddy bear for certain groups. In times when we face uncertainty and rapid change, it’s an era many of us clutch to when we are afraid. Squeeze it and say to ourselves everything’s gong to be all right.
In the 50s, the rules in America were clear and every group had a place and a role. Men were men. Women were at home. Children listened, obeyed and conformed. And the help was often on the wrong side of town after 7:30. A world of order, stability predictability (some would argue through imposing social conformity).
But now, in the 60s and 70s, women started working in traditionally male roles and settings. Children started adopting alternative culture and listening to “wild” rock music and protesting. And blacks started demanding access to the exact same resources as whites-like the same seat at the local diner. Upheaval to the established order that ignited a culture battle waged to stop or reverse or manage these changes. And though many of us saw a disturbing TV screen filed with policemen, water hoses, bra burnings, and “degenerate” musicians, that was, in retrospect, a gradual transition. A tumultuous time, but change that was allowed to happen over decades.
We didn’t get that luxury of transition time for the changes to come in the first decade of the 21st century. Americans were shell-shocked and had their faces shoved full of changes that would scare any sane person. Terrorism. War. Near economic collapse. Already reeling, Americans were exposed to some additional changes that scared people who desperately were looking to feel comfort and stability in tradition. Not saying them openly as they felt they were experiencing politically incorrect fears.
• The face of the person who fills your prescription may not look like they are native to America.
• The Hispanic people that caught glimpse of working in the back of the restaurant, or on the contracting team working on your house want many of the same rights as we do.
• Men are less and less the breadwinner (and sometimes the authority) in households
• A black person has been given the position of the most powerful person in the world
And it’s scaring the hell out of Americans. Irrationally so. With driving irrational consequences and futile actions. More on that this weekend.