When I saw that headline in last Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, I thought, yessssss! Finally, they get it.
Then — uh-oh. Who is the “we” Will Bunch is talking about?
When he writes about America, his column is the predictable porridge of pessimism and grievance. In this one, the world is coming to an end because Roe vs. Wade may be reversed. Possible explanation: It’s the only world he knows.
Since he graduated Brown University in 1981, he was probably born in 1960, which means he was about 12 when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its Roe opinion. So, basically, he grew up with it and that’s all he knows.
On the other hand, I was one year into my career at the Philadelphia Daily News in 1973, meaning there was no Roe for the first 31 years of my life.
So I know America before, and after, Roe.
Relax — this won’t be about abortion.
You know, there are a lot of people — like me — who feel today’s America isn’t “my” America.
What was my America?
*The America I grew up in knew the difference between men and women and knew there were differences between men and women. Fluidity was something you checked with a dipstick.
*In my America, after incurring a debt, people paid it without expecting someone else to pay for them, certainly not the government. In my America, we quoted President John F. Kennedy’s words: “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” Are there any Democrats saying that today?
*“Human rights” were those enumerated in the Constitution. They did not include free college, health care, food, shelter or abortion. These benefits may be desirable to you, but they are not “rights,” any more than I have a “right” to date Katy Perry just because I think it would be nice. (Note to girl friend: Just kidding to make a point.)
*In my America, there were no participation trophies. Little League and Pop Warner kept score. So did you, when you were playing stickball or marbles or Double Dutch with your friends.
*Neighborhoods were strong and parents looked out for all kids, not just their own.
*God was in school and metal detectors were not.
*Math was not racist. Nor were ice cream truck songs, Kate Smith, Dr. Seuss, apple pie, nor grammar.
*Bicyclists rode in traffic without needing moats for protection.
*Military service was a duty (that many shirked).
*“Play” meant being outside with other children, not gripping a joy stick in your bedroom. Helicopter parents were grounded, Reading meant getting actual books out of the library.
*Children were neither suicidal nor confused about their gender. Even gay kids knew if they were male or female.
*Parents respected teachers who taught children the 3 Rs and not their social justice philosophy.
*Respect for authority was the default position.
*My America didn’t have “underserved” communities. We had slums, or ghettos.
*There was no “food insecurity,” but there was hunger. We also had “relief,” or “welfare,” and food stamps.
*At the stores we had Green Stamps that you pasted into booklets until you had enough to claim a prize. Today we have “cash back” credit cards.
*In my America, phones were attached to the wall, and didn’t contain cameras or computers.
*We did not have “male toxicity,” but we did have men who won wars by risking their lives.
*Cops were supported, not hated.
*Words like “ableism,” “heteronormative,” “classism,” and “misgendered” did not exist.
*Mayors did not surrender portions of their downtowns to be declared no-cop “independent” zones.
*We had “illegal aliens.” The word “immigrant” was reserved for those who entered our country legally.
*“Returning citizens” meant people coming back from Europe, not from Graterford.
*When Dad had his two-week vacation, the family went on trips together and there was no contact with his office.
*Here’s an 8-minute video about growing up in the ‘50s. (My neighborhood was urban, ulike the ones shown, but our activities were similar) https://youtu.be/dZb5xVi6GFw
*We waited for a late August TV Guide, so you could see the new season offerings on NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS. My America did not have 500+ cable and internet channels offering more than you could see in two lifetimes.
*In my America, life expectancy was lower than now. Wait! Sorry, life expectancy went down in 2020. That’s a first.
*In professional sports, the players stuck with the same team, year after year. The millionaires were the owners, not the players.
*In my America, rock ‘n’ roll lyrics could be sung in Aunt Janie’s presence. They might titillate, but they didn’t debase.
*Before most homes had televisions, people spent their free time listening to the radio or reading the newspaper. Before computers, people played cards and board games.
*Families ate dinner together.
*Teenagers learned to drive a stick shift because there was no Uber to chauffeur them around.
*Violent crime was almost nonexistent among professional athletes.
*In my America, Black activists demanded integration, not segregated dorms, graduations, lunchrooms, and social areas.
*Liberals worshipped the Supreme Court because they liked the outcomes, in my America.
*We never ran out of baby formula, and one parent’s salary from one job could support a family.
And, yes, we did have nostalgia about earlier days.
(Hat tip to anonymous friends who contributed some memories.)