“Those were the days…” misplaced nostalgia in the face of contemporary violence

Each time I read a news story on the Internet, I promise myself I won’t go to the comments thread section. But then I do. And then I become outraged at the idiotic comments posted by fools, emboldened by the anonymity of the Web to spout hateful, racist nonsense and not be held accountable for it.

The latest story that got me sucked into a thread war is the viral video of a teen being bullied and savagely beaten by 7 teenagers. The video was posted on YouTube and eventually the kids who did this were arrested.

Now, let me say this before I go on: if the kids arrested are the ones who attacked Derrion Albert, then they’re snots and should be charged and punished, according to the law. When reading the posts, I ran across lots of false bravado and disturbing scenarios of what people would do if their loved one was attacked like Albert.

The more predictable route a lot of these dummies took was blaming Obama, the Democrats and liberals. And then of course came the racist comments as well (“Newt was right!”).

But one comment struck me as very strange: someone lamented the current state of the country and wished it was the America of “our parents and grandparents.”

I’m sorry, but I don’t think we should revert back to the America of the 1960s or 1940s. Do we want to revert back to an America where blacks didn’t have equal protection under the law? Do we want to revert back to an America where women had to turn to the backalley for abortions? Do we want to revert back to an America where gays and lesbians were classified as mentally ill and treated as such? How about we go back to a time when riot police would turn hoses on to protesters? Or how about we go back to a time when the National Guard sprayed bullets into crowds of demonstrators? Or how about we go back to a time when gay bars were raided by violent police officers?

This sort of Mayberry nostalgia of when things were simpler really is getting ridiculous. We shouldn’t look backwards when trying to deal with societal problems we have today. For one thing – it’s indulgent and useless. But more importantly, it’s absurd and positively reeks of revisionism. Life wasn’t Leave It to Beaver or The Andy Griffith Show. If you want to see what life was really like catch an episode of Mad Men and see just how happy women, blacks, Jews and gays were during this idyllic time of peace and comfort that some seem to be weirdly grabbing for.

We’ve got lots of social problems plaguing the United States today and looking back fondly, and remembering badly what happened in the “good old days” won’t get us any nearer a solution.


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