The country’s gone to hell in a handbasket — it’s not at all like it was back in the good ol’ days, aka the 1950s.
Back then, we* had freedom. For instance, you could beat your wife and have both psychiatry and the law say it was her fault for provoking you with her inadequacies. There was no such thing as rape if a couple was married — hubby could have sex with wifey with or without her consent.
(*”We” = straight white males.)
We were tougher then and knew how to either suffer in silence or die early. The infant mortality rate was more than four times what it is now. A whole lot of modern medicine didn’t exist back then, so thank God we knew not to overstay our welcome — if disease didn’t get us, well, the suicide rates were higher then than it is now. Life expectancy in 1950 was 68 years, today, it’s about 79.
We knew our gender roles, because they were spelled out clearly, simply and repeatedly. Sexism was not only tolerated, it was expected and actively encouraged by the culture as a whole. Women’s lives were largely constrained to the roles of housewives and mothers, and their dreams were inconsequential. In some states, women’s property rights were restricted, women could not make contracts (including wills), women could not sell property, and women could not control their own earnings. Those were man things.
You could engage in daily sexual harassment at the office without fear of repercussion.
You could pay women much less that you paid men for doing the same work, and you could do so without fear. It was not unusual for companies to have a written policy that stated that women should be paid less than men.
Business was, after all, a man’s world. General Electric and other businesses were using prostitutes to close deals, and it was just what it meant to be a white collar man.
Back then, we had a hated enemy to unify us, even if we had to sometimes invent it. Hysteria was rampant as politicians fed anti-communist paranoia. The fear that our next door neighbors might be communists somehow came to feel real. Careers were ruined and lives were destroyed, particularly in government, entertainment, and education, but at least we had something around which we could rally.
A fifth of all Americans lived below the poverty line and there was no safety net — no Medicaid, no Medicare, no SSI for people living with disabilities, no food stamps, no public housing, no TANF. The poverty rate for the elderly was 20 percentage points higher than it is now. But we knew enough to keep our mouths shut about it (or we’d get accused of being communists — which could get you blackballed, beaten and arrested) and act like everything was fine.
The law made sure we knew what we could and couldn’t do with our stinky parts. Inter-racial marriage was illegal in many places, as was birth control. (So what if teenage pregnancy rates were twice as high as they are now?)
Forget about same-sex marriage, being gay was a crime for which you could be arrested. A Senate committee recommended stringent measures be taken to root out all lesbians and gays out of government, and President Eisenhower signed an executive order mandating the dismissal of all federal employees determined to be homosexual. Being gay was considered a mental illness, and gays were sometimes involuntarily committed to asylums and subjected to a variety of “cures.”
We didn’t need no nanny state telling us how to live: the illiteracy rate in 1950 was 3.2% (today, it’s less than 0.1%), the average auto’s miles per gallon was under 14 and we spewed pollution like there was no tomorrow, we could discriminate against people living with disabilities — often locking them away — and it was not only legal, it was socially acceptable. We* got along just fine. We didn’t need no stinkin’ seatbelts either — we were brave enough to take our chances. So what if the rate of deaths per 100 million miles traveled in autos was nearly six times what it is now?
Taxes were… well, the top tax rate was 90%, so nevermind about taxes.
Life was tranquil because we all knew our place. Black people encountered “whites only” — officially or effectively — restaurants, toilets, government services, drinking fountains, schools, colleges, jobs, housing, medical care, police protection, and neighborhoods. Typically, those for “colored” people were underfunded and inferior. Blacks were expected to look down when speaking to a white person, and whites could address blacks with the terms of “boy” and “nigger” without a second thought. Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white person. Emmett Till was lynched, beaten, shot and thrown in a river for reportedly flirting with a white woman. But we* almost never encountered a black person, so there was no problem, for us at least, until the liberals started stirring things up.
If you’re a good, patriotic American who knows that things were a heck of a lot better when we* were kids, share this post widely. It was our world and it was grand. If you’re one of those un-American types who would take away my God-given First Amendment right of free speech by disagreeing with me, just shut up. We* want our country back!