I’ve been back at work the past couple of weeks which necessitated using something I haven’t had to use in a year and a half — my alarm clock. Of course in this day and age an “alarm clock” is really the clock app on my phone even though I have a bedside clock with an alarm that would do the job just as well, but hey I paid a lot of money for this phone and I’m gonna get the most use out of it I can.
A lot of my work occurs at hours that for many people they’d be asking “There’s one of those in the morning?” 3AM wakeups are not uncommon. Don’t feel bad for me, I don’t have to do it every morning unlike my father who had to get up at that hour every weekday for years so he could put a roof over our heads and food on the table and send you three kids to those fancy schools…
Wow, sorry about that, I was suddenly possessed by my father’s spirit. Might explain why I also had a sudden urge to yell to the wife (Cruella) to get me a soda and a pretzel. Yeah he was like that and my mother went along with it because that’s how they were both raised. He yelled, she did what he wanted, and everything was fine with the world. And it wasn’t just my mother he did this with. His kids, his employees, even his friends all got the same treatment.
It was called “having a forceful personality” and it was seen as an emblem of American success.
As a child I thought that was the way things were supposed to be. A man needed to brutishly barge his way through life to get what he wanted for him and his. But as I grew older I began to realize this wasn’t a great example of how to go through life. I began to disregard many of his tirades about anything from work to schooling to what play the football team should run next (option pass to the tight end was his go to favorite). This of course led to sometimes long periods of sulking on his part. What’s the point of having kids if they don’t listen to you?
I do want to make it clear that he was extremely liberal…for his times. While he was totally behind the Civil Rights movement (he saw Blacks and Jews as similarly oppressed people), women’s rights or gay rights were too far a stretch for him, at least in my formative years. He did believe, and he showed it in his own businesses, that if a woman did the job of a man and did it just as well then she should be paid the same, but at the same time women should really be homemakers. Homosexuality wasn’t something that people should be jailed for, it was something for the psychiatrist’s couch. These were the prevailing liberal views of the Sixties and early Seventies.
Over time, and I’d like to think that my rejection of many of his views helped him along, his opinions changed. An outsider would call it evolving. I would call it growing up. It’s something we as humans do every day, cradle to grave.
Which brings me to wokeness and cancel culture.
Go back far enough and you’ll be shocked at the attitudes you had back once upon a time that you don’t have anymore. Little boys don’t play with little girls, you couldn’t stand the taste of peas or you only wanted to eat things that were white, maybe you grew up where having a black or Hispanic person as a friend was frowned upon and you bought into that. Eventually you grew out of those ideas, at least I hope you did, and shrink at the notion that you believed those things.
Now imagine losing your job because you thought those things.
The gentleman who directed the Olympic Opening program had that happen to him. Okay, he made a bad joke about the Holocaust. He made that joke almost a quarter of a century ago. So long ago the Tokyo Olympic Committee’s vetting didn’t catch it. Has he made any comments regarding genocide since? None that I can find. In addition his musical director got the axe because he admitted in an interview over a quarter of a century ago that as a child he had bullied his classmates. So what’s the statute of limitations on crappy jokes or childhood asshattery? It’s gotta be less than a quarter of a century.
Do you understand that when you do things like that you are in effect saying “It doesn’t matter how long ago or how different a person you are now, your sins will follow you forever”. Whatever happened to forgive and forget? And if we don’t forgive and forget then why would anyone change their behavior and become a better person?
Absolutely if today someone makes racist or homophobic or misogynistic statements that’s an indication of not just a lack of tact, but probably current racist or homophobic or misogynistic sentiments. That person SHOULD lose their job and Donald Trump did. But if you have to go 25 years in the past to come up with something to get vexed about a person then I’d say that person has, let me see, what’s the right phrase, oh yes, grown up.
We seem to be in a mad rush to scrub history, both macro and micro, of all we now deem to be offensive. Well guess what, this isn’t the first time cancel culture has been trotted out. It’s happened many times before. Stalin did it during his dictatorship, Pol Pot did it during the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge, the Lost Causers are still whitewashing the history of the American Civil War. Ultimately those regimes fell into the dustbin of history because the first rule of history is those who do not study it are condemned to repeat it.
Or as my father would say, “People never change”.