Thursday, August 20, 2020
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Saturday, August 1, 2020
By JIM PURCELL
I love this country. I consider being a citizen of the United States a true gift, and am humbled by that. When I was a child, I mean as young as five or six old, my friends and I would have some good answers about why America was great, if someone had asked. And, we were not rocket scientists. By the time we were 7 or 8 years old, our preoccupation with finding Playboy magazines, grubbing free pot from our older siblings and sneaking booze from our parents' liquor cabinets were main themes to our coming together. Well, we played sports too; pick-up baseball, basketball and football. Girls were, and still are I think, the great mystery: We had no idea how to get a girlfriend and this was also a reason I hung out with my fellow juvenile delinquents. And yet...we could still come up with great reasons why we loved America and why it was the greatest nation on earth.
As young and dumb as we were, we knew that we had some of the brightest minds in the world right here in the USA. We all knew about Dr. Jonas Salk coming up with a vaccine to combat polio. Some of the guys even had relatives that suffered from the disease and we knew something about it. We knew America were part of the Allies who won World War 2. We knew the Korean War was a tie, and by 1972 (when I was five years removed from crapping in my diapers) it did not take a brilliant mind to see Vietnam was looking like another tie. We knew people were allowed to worship God as they liked here. We knew that the Civil War was fought over slavery and that slavery was the worst crime in the history of mankind short of the Holocaust, which we also knew about. Our parents belonged to unions, and we all knew that was how our families were all able to live in the suburbs. We loved baseball, football and basketball -- and could care less about soccer (professional or otherwise). I say all that to say this, we knew more about why it was great to be an American than most people today and none of us kids were even remotely considered bright.
Today, doctors who have advanced degrees and a lot of clinical experience in fighting terrible illnesses are looked down on by some, and there is even a cult following around an anti-vaccination sentiment by many mouth breathers around this country. And for the record, anyone who buys into that is as dumb as a box of rocks. Today, there are groups of historical revisionists who believe that the Germans and Japanese were oppressed by the Allies and that they were somehow the good guys. In this case, it is probably not a bad thing that my Dad and uncles have passed on because they all fought in World War 2 and they would have fought any idiot that let such nonsense out of their mouths. By 'fighting' I do not mean writing a strong letter to the editor and I do mean they would whip their ass. When it comes to the Civil War revisionists they would not have been swinging punches but they would have told those people they were "dumbasses" and left it at that. My Pop was a racist and he still thought slavery was wrong and freeing the black people was a great achievements by American. Oh, and if someone was spouting pro-Nazi or pro-Klan stuff around him he would start a fight with them and if a cop did show up to arrest someone it would be the idiot spouting Nazi or Klan nonsense out of their stupid mouth.
Holocaust deniers are as bright as folks injured to the head by gardening tools. Yet, denying the Holocaust is their thing. Dad would have had a problem with that because, during World War 2, his Army unit actually liberated a death camp. He saw what the deniers said never happened. But it did happen and Pops spent a healthy chunk of his life trying to forget about it. As for hating on unions, that is just moronic. Unions were the catalyst that made a comfortable middle class possible. Well, unions are dead now, by and large, and the gulf between the rich and poor has never been wider. And, what brain surgeon thought that was a good idea?
My gang of friends as a kid would not have cared if players took a knee before athletic events. We watched sports like a religion, and played them on back lots, parking lots, parks and even the street. The boys and I did not pay much attention to politicians or what they believed in. Universally, we thought anyone who bought into being a fan of McGovern or Nixon or Ford or Carter -- or just about anyone -- was one of the dumbest things anyone could do. These people were total saps. I'm not saying that we didn't believe in voting. But, all of us had parents who had decent jobs, health insurance and paid vacations. All of us had grandparents who were retired and had pensions and Social Security. So, if any lying politician wanted to take any of that away, and our parents would talk about that stuff, then they could pretty much suck it, in our venerable opinions.
Most things have gotten progressively worse since 1978. I do mean 'most things.' Our politicians today are pretty much a plague and not even as good as the politicians of yesteryear (who we thought were total morons). Professional sports today is OK but usually any great player in any cool sport spends most of their time on the disabled list now. Sadly, I am a Mets and Jets fan and am still holding my breath for a championship from either one of those chuckleheads. I used to be a New Jersey Nets fan, but they moved to Brookkyn and, in my book, they can go screw. Now there is a movement to stop police officers from flagrantly killing black people. As it happens, there is a lot of proof about cops killing a lot of black people under their authority (there are even videos about it). So, a lot of people got together and came up with "Black Lives Matter." It's a straightforward cause. Some players take a knee before events on the field and, as a result, there are many fans who want to boycott the sports where players do that. Well, hell -- as much as sports are not as good as the Golden Age of the late 1960s through the 1980s it is at least something to watch that is good. Take that away and I will be chewing the carpet as a hobby. I mean, I cannot do sports anymore because my knees, shoulder and ankle are permanently messed up, not to mention my chronic COPD. So all I have left is watching other people do sports.
On to music: Have you ever noticed that most of what you might hear on the radio is from the late '60s through the '80s? Why? I have that answer: Because music after the 1980s usually sucks, with some exceptions. It's like the collective 'stupid' has sunken into so many brains that it has even screwed up rock 'n roll. How does someone screw up rock? WTF. In the 1970s, young people made love everywhere. Heck, in '73, I was walking out my front door and the neighbor girl and her boyfriend were doing it in the side yard of the house next to my parents'. At 7 years old, my thought when I saw this was, "Hey, different strokes for different folks." Today, if a kid saw that there would be an ABC News Special Report about it. Hardcore religious personalities (most of whom are perverts when the camera is not on) would be decrying the lost innocence of a 7 year old. Yet, we are people and people have sex. Sure, they should have brought it inside but is it really such a Doomsday scenario if anyone broke the rules. Sure, messing around in the middle of the day outside in the side yard is a poor decision. It should not be a habit...next.
The one thing that has gotten better with time (and that is, indeed, a small list) is diners. In New Jersey, New York and Connecticut there are the best 24-hour diners. It may not be much, but there are some things that have improved with time. Cars -- not so much. Show me how to improve on a 1971 GTO and I will help you find a qualified mental health professional.
Does a decline in the overall standard of living prove a challenge to patriotism? Does your country fighting wars all around the globe for no apparent reason challenge patriotism? Does a loss of insurance coverage for most non-millionaires prove a challenge to patriotism? How about Nazis and Klansmen being looked up to by so many people today create a challenge to patriotism? Well, these things sure can. Add to that the nation being led by a band of authoritarian asshats and 'viola!' there are not that many great things as there used to be there as an American.
People today are poorer than ever in the USA, more hateful about politics and each other, professional sports is just OK, cars and phones are smarter than the people who use them, don't get me started on the educational system for kids today, somehow people are less literate today than 40 years ago and people say dumber stuff today than in the history of the planet. How do you fix all that? Well, you can't. It would be like trying to sop up the Atlantic Ocean with a Shop Vac.
The best thing any of us can do is to pray, be kind to those we love, have hobbies, stay as positive as we can and be nice to people. If you cannot be nice to some people, at the very least put up with them and stay courteous. Dancing helps too.
(Jim Purcell is a former print journalist who is retired and resides in the Great Smoky Mountains with his wife.)
Posted by Downtowner at 10:44 AM