Baby boomers like this writer usually reminisce about past days, replete with the great music ,sports and styles we enjoyed. Yes, growing up in ‘ The garden spot of the world, Brooklyn NYC’ one can remember how important to us our neighborhoods were. One street, or one block as we called them, became a world to many of us. In three of the four seasons you could see our neighbors sitting outside their homes or apartments while the kids played on the sidewalk or in the street. As with any time period in one’s lifetime, the social conditions, the politics and the events of the day always included the tensions, injustices and outright divisiveness between polarized people. Thus, in my world growing up in dear old Brooklyn there always existed racism, homophobia, sexism and Anti Semitism (since we had more Jewish neighbors than anywhere else outside of NYC). The Civil Rights movement, gathering steam in the mid 50s and early 60s, did help to expose the terrible rage by those we now label as ‘ White Supremacists’. Many of the people who kneeled alongside me at St Edmund’s Catholic Church were dye in the wool racists and Anti Semites. You could hear it through the jokes they told or retorts they made in conversations with me. Some things never do change.
The Vietnam ( so called) War brought out the same divide amongst our neighbors. The friendly, funny fireman who lived a few doors down with his wife and young kids was the guy we stood on our street corner with drinking a brew many a night during the hot ’69 summer. This was later labeled The summer of the NY Mets as our forever troubled baseball team was on the verge of its first World Series. Once the war had picked up steam the divide parted our small group of guys like the Red Sea. The fireman, ten years older than us, was now seen as a right wing Nixon worshiping ‘ America, Love it or Leave it’ fool. All of this came to a brief head when he and my neighbor Gus, a dental student, almost came to blows over a recent anti war demonstration in NYC. Gus and his fellow classmates ran down to the street to give medical aid after construction workers had attacked an anti war march and literally beat the shit out of demonstrators. Gus and Don the fireman went at it as their beer cans almost became weapons. There were no more street corner beer drinking and general bullshitting sessions with Don for a long time after that.
My point is that looking back into one’s recent history is not just rose colored memories. No, things were not always so great. Yet, with all that in perspective, what is happening NOW in this America is downright scary! Let’s just say this: Richard Nixon, with all his many flaws of leadership, would be looked upon by today’s GOP as being too ‘ Left wing’. He was the guy who wanted price controls and gave us OSHA to protect our workplaces. Nixon also came out and said that he thought we needed National Health Coverage for all Americans. As things regress now ‘ Tricky Dick’ would be labeled a Marxist by today’s Goebbels loving Republicans! What we have now is as near to what the Nazi Party in 1930-32 was all about. Replace their rhetoric about Jews with that of ‘ Illegal Aliens’ coming over our border carrying a ton of fentanyl while looking to rape and pillage our citizens. Of course, we know that there are undocumented people sneaking in for devious reasons. However, most of them are here to work the shit jobs for shit pay. You know, wiping the asses of our elderly in nursing homes, cleaning toilets, changing bed sheets, hammering on 100 degree temperature roofs, mowing lawns and other of the lowest level jobs. Bottom line: The same hypocrites who wear their MAGA hats and have MAGA bumper stickers hire undocumented women for nannies, or cheap pay day laborers on their property.
Fascism is the new political drug of choice folks. Here’s the ‘ skinny ‘ on it all: The refugee crisis throughout Europe was in reality caused by good old Uncle Sam. It was our prolonged phony ‘War on Terror’ that destroyed life and infrastructure in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and now Yemen and Gaza. Factor out the poor souls of Gaza who cannot leave their prison, and the rest of those refugees fled to the same European countries ( including Turkey) that voted in far right wing governments. THAT is where the immigrant crisis was developed. Then look at south of our border and see why so many sneak in here. Most of those Central American and South American nations are run by governments who are controlled by their super rich and of course our corporations and hedge funds. When there is little or no future for the uneducated and lower income in those countries they find their way out of there.
The ‘ Good Old Days’, as most of us who know better realize, was never that good. Yet, even the apathetic 1950s and the volatile 1960s were no match for the mess we find ourselves in now. If the great Indian mystic and yogi Yogananda was correct that what we call reality is but a cosmic dream, how else can we explain the fact that a megalomaniac and career hustler like Donald Trump became president? Beats me!
Port Orange, Florida