Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Great Again?

It was circa 1975 and I was a liberal young man not long out of college living on the reasonably forward-looking East Coast. While tossing around a football, I was talking to a good friend about the great CBS sitcom :All in the Family," starring Carroll O'Connor as Archie Bunker.

I told Joe (not his real name) that I was pleased that Norman Lear's program, in portraying an obviously narrow-minded and bigoted "Archie," was ridiculing the culturally and politically backward.  To the best of my recollection- of a relatively insignificant incident 45 years ago- Joe told me roughly

You may think this is satire and that it portrays people similar to Archie in a bad light, as the leftist Lear no doubt does. However, there are a lot of people elsewhere in the country ("heartland" not yet a cliche) who are taking the Archie Bunker character seriously. And they agree with what he is saying.

It has been nearly a quarter of a century since I last talked to Joe, who had been raised in the same borough in which Donald Trump was taking the fortune left him by his father and turning it into- well, without his tax returns, we don't know (also, the borough in which the fictional Bunker family lived).

The conversation too place approximately 40 years before that celebrity, less of a family man than "Archie" but boasting similar rhetoric and bigotry, was elected President of the USA. It was at a time when television options were severely limited, with few networks and viewing limited to that one time it appeared on the air, other than a possible summer re-run. The immensely popular "All in the Family," on a major network, may have helped normalize the outrageous and obnoxious.

That made it particularly discouraging to view this segment from Monday's Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Aloe Blacc begins

It's Donald Trump's America in the USFandA, where Eagles fly and apple pie on Independence Day, where the children all say Christmas and the men don't take a knee.

It's prudent in my region to use "Merry Christmas" sparingly, I don't eat apple pie, and the only Eagles I like are from Philadelphia. However, in much of the country, people do say "Merry Christmas" and believe only swine on the coasts are trying to ban the phrase. And even if apple pie and the American eagle are not on their Independence Day menu- even if they disrespectfully call it the "Fourth of July"- those things may represent patriotism and the good old days which once existed, or they believe existed.

"Taking a knee" struck some of us as courageous, but there are 32 NFL owners who think they understand public sentiment in the 29 media markets they represent. Colin Kaepernick is still unemployed.

Blacc continues

We're great again, yeah, we're great again. We vanquish all our enemies.... We're great again, don't make me say it again, so suck it other countries 'cause we're great again. 

Donald Trump promised to make America "great again." Here, an accomplished, charismatic man with a great voice is eloquently declaring "we're great again.," notwithstanding we enlightened recognizing it as sarcastic. And for bonus points: he's black, which "proves" that blacks also like Trump, so he's not racist, and we're not racist for liking him.

It's counter-productive to sing this song, especially with patriotic imagery, to the country at-large. The song is tone-deaf, of which Jimmy Kimmel either has no clue or believes that the song and artist areis too attractive to ignore.  Perhaps in his circle of acquaintances, the 2016 election was a lesson unlearned.  However, 1970's Joe was right, probably even more so than he imagined.

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