Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I tend to reflexively shut down when people start getting all dewy-eyed and nostalgic. I distrust and dislike nostalgia. It really bugs me when people talk about the "good old days" without acknowledging that those days weren't so good for a good chunk of people. The past is complicated. And we as a people actually keep getting better, not worse. Mayberry makes for a nice rhetorical turn, until you remember that the real Mayberry was most likely a place where Jim Crow laws were the rule of the land. But, hey, people were more polite or something!

At another level, I think people rarely recognize that the happy times of the past might have been so happy because they were children when they experienced them. Good parents make the world their kids live in a safe and wholesome place. But that doesn't mean that the grown up people around them weren't sweating the bills and the changing cultural norms. I'm freaked out almost all the time, but I'm hoping Laney looks back at these parlous times as comforting and safe.

That said, lately, there seems to be so much hysterical concern about demographic winters - fear that America is in danger because there aren't enough white babies being born. And I can't help but remember the halcyon days of my own youth when we talked about melting pots and how Freddie Prinze was as much an American as the old white dude he worked for (ask your parents). It seemed like when I was growing up, the idea that Being American=Being White was being challenged and well on its way out the door.

And I miss that. I despair when Pat Buchanon shows up on the purportedly "liberal" MSNBC and waxes paranoid about the looming threat of more brown babies being born than white babies.

So, I confess, I'm nostalgic for the 70s. I miss the melting pot. I mourn the notion of American diversity as the greatest American strength. I hate seeing the notion that the only real American is a white American getting any kind of traction. It's so toxic and retrograde.

And that's all the nostalgia you'll get from me.