Monday, July 18, 2011

What She Said

"She" bein' Peggy Noonan, writing in Saturday's WSJ.  Here's a piece-part:
Pretty much everyone over 50 in America feels on some level like a refugee. That's because they were born in one place—the old America—and live now in another. We're like immigrants, whether we literally are or not. One of the reasons America has always celebrated immigrants is a natural, shared knowledge that they left behind everything they knew to enter a place that was different—different language, different ways and manners, different food and habits, different tempo. This took courage. They missed the old country. There's a line in a Bernard Shaw play, "Mrs. Warren's Profession": "I kept myself lonely for you!" That is the unspoken sentence of all immigrants toward their children—I made myself long for an old world so you could have a better one. 

But everyone over 50 in America feels a certain cultural longing now. They hear the new culture out of the radio, the TV, the billboard, the movie, the talk show. It is so violent, so sexualized, so politicized, so rough. They miss the old America they were born into, 50 to 70 years ago. And they fear, deep down, that this new culture, the one their children live in, isn't going to make it. Because it is, in essence, an assaultive culture, from the pop music coming out of the rental car radio to the TSA agent with her hands on your kids' buttocks. We are increasingly strangers here, and we fear for the future. There are, by the way, 100 million Americans over 50. A third of the nation. That's a lot of displaced people. They are part of the wrong-track numbers. 

So is this. In the Old America there were a lot of bad parents. There always are, because being a parent is hard, and not everyone has the ability or even the desire. But in the old America you knew it wasn't so bad, because the culture could bring the kids up. Inadequate parents could sort of say, "Go outside and play in the culture," and the culture—relatively innocent, and boring—could be more or less trusted to bring the kids up. Popular songs, the messages in movies—all of it was pretty hopeful, and, to use a corny old word, wholesome. Grown-ups now know you can't send the kids out to play in the culture, because the culture will leave them distorted and disturbed. And there isn't less bad parenting now than there used to be. There may be more. 

There is so much unease and yearning and sadness in America. So much good, too, so much energy and genius. But it isn't a country anyone should be playing games with, and adding to the general sense of loss.
This goes a long way to explaining all the GOML stuff we see these days, a lot of which is posted in these pages.  Ms. Noonan went off on a tangent here, given the principal thrust of her column ("This Is No Time for Games") was about the debt-ceiling shenanigans, but this was a tangent that's both good and true.  I have a lot o' fun with my "Get Off My Lawn!" (you were wonderin' about the acronym, weren't ya?) bullshit, but a lot of it ISN'T bullshit.  Like Ms. Noonan I really AM beginning to believe things were better 20 or 30 years ago, but I'm also of the same mind that produced that last paragraph, above.  All isn't lost, yet.

I'd give ya a link to the full article, Gentle Reader, and encourage ya to RTWT as is my wont... but I can't, as Mr. Murdoch & Co. have seen fit to sequester Ms. Noonan behind their pay wall.  Sorry.


  1. I've been a radical for years, what with my pot-smoking libertarian free-sex sort of thinking. By the same token, I've always been a fiscal conservative, a person who believes in entering the country through the rights channels, and someone who goes out of his way to be polite to strangers and to try not to unduly offend those around him. Live and let live, mostly, insofar as you give me the same appreciation.

    I was always of the mind that I didn't want to become my old man. And I haven't. But I surely do appreciate what his country was, now more than ever, and if I've contributed to the demise of that - which I fear I have in some ways - then that makes me truly sad.

    Good piece, Buck. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. I feel much the same way, Jim... especially about not becoming my Ol' Man. I also find it difficult to reconcile my libertarian views with the outcomes I see around me. But it all goes back to your larger point: we'll continue down this path as long as people don't respect the rights and opinions of others. THAT'S the major failing of the culture today, IM(NS)HO.

  3. I really can't respond without coming across as a crotchety old man. But I am, indeed, frustrated.

  4. Go on, Skip... release your inner urge to cry GOML! It's FUN.

  5. Buck, what bothers me is that if there was a sudden addition of a vast wilderness to the west of the country that needed brave men and women to hike into to explore and eventually settle, the people of today could not do it. They would wait for the Federally funded research team to go in first and set up the welfare office.

    That and the 9-years spent fighting the "Cold War" to only have the enemy working behind the lines the whole damn time. Like Vietnam, we won all the battles but lost the country just the same. Lost to the lazy leach class with their hands in my back pocket where I keep the wallet.

    I beleive my kids will live a better life than I did which is what my Father wanted for me and all the rest of his kids, but the future beyound that is questionalbe.

    BT: Jimmy T sends.

  6. I think the outcome is still in our hands, Jimmy... and our kids'. It ain't over yet.

  7. I'm only 45, but I share the same sentiments. We appear to be in decline.

    I too, do not want to become my father. He is a cranky old non-thinking democrat, whose only political arguments is "Republicans are crooks who want to take all you money". I gave up debating him years ago.

  8. Tomorrow, Buck, at my place.

  9. Il n'y avait pas de satisfaction18 July, 2011 20:21

    Whenever I feel like crying, and throw in the towel, and cry out "things were better", I get that funny pit in my stomach that says "you don't know squat."

    When my friend Becky Fuji survived a relocation camp, when my friend Leroy Washington survived a whites-only south, I ask myself - just where did you live this better life.

    I didn't get a silver spoon, but I didn't get relocated or chased after with terrorists in white sheets either.

    No, whenever some goody two shoes tells me I am like an immigrant and life was better, I look at her with pity.

    That woman has probably never walked out Gate Seven in Biloxi in 1965 and zig-zagged over to the Ragin Cajun and heard one lick of real authentic Americana from people who weren't even allowed into her daddies store, yet welcomed you like a lost child.

  10. I walked out Gate Seven from late 1963 until 1964 and many times after that in the years that followed. I also nearly got my ass kicked for sitting in the back of Biloxi buses durin' that time frame, too, the only thing savin' me was the fact there were more of us than there were of them. Yet I still think Noonan has a point. You didn't have to be IN Dachau to appreciate the horror that was Dachau. Same difference, eh?

  11. Oh boy Biloxi! I have a funny story. 1985 or so, we walked out on the back bay bridge to watch this old black guy (looked like he was 99 years old) who was throwing a net over the side and coming-up empty.

    "They changed the recipe!" Excuse me, I said. "They changed the recipe - ain't gettin no shrimp."

    Confused again I asked "What recipe??"

    "They changed the dog food recipe! They ruined it." OK, I had to admit I didn't know anything about shrimpin.

    The old man told me how you put down some dog food the day before, and then when the shrimp come to eat it, you throw a net over them and you have your dinner.

    But the damned dog food company changed the recipe! Probably didn't even know they drove the Biloxi back-bay economy :-)

  12. Looking back, and looking at the mess we have now is what keeps me a pissed off old man.

  13. Oh to be able to live in the moment... like a dog, whose only sense of time is now, and right now.

  14. Anon: Heh. I fished off that bridge in the way-back... and never caught a damned thing. Cool story!

    Ed: I' try not to get too pissed... it's out o' my hands.

    Ivan: Great point!


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