The Not-So-Good Old Days
From my latest NYT column:
MY column last month about the dangers of nostalgia inspired many readers to write to me about their family memories of the 1950s and ’60s. Some shared poignant stories about the discrimination they encountered as blacks, women, gay men or lesbians. Others described how much easier it was for their working-class fathers to support a family back then.
Manufacturing workers have reason to regret the passing of an era. Between 1945 and 1978, their real earnings almost doubled — rising by 95 percent — but then, over the next 34 years, they actually fell by 2.3 percent. Supporters of women’s reproductive rights might feel nostalgic for an era when three former presidents, the Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Democrats Harry S. Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson, were happy to serve as honorary co-chairmen of a Planned Parenthood fund-raising committee.
But you can’t just stroll through the past, picking the things you like and skipping the ones you don’t, as if historical eras were menus, and you could pick one from column A and one from column B. They are, rather, interconnected social, economic and political systems. Whether someone would really want to return to a particular time depends on socioeconomic class, age, sex, race and health....
comments powered by Disqus
- A New Target for Old Spies: Congress
- Antigua and Barbuda Asks Harvard University for Slavery Reparations
- Historian: Nixon DID contest the 1960 election
- Killer took selfie after stabbing historian over rare ‘Wind in the Willows’ book
- VW fires corporate historian who drew attention to wartime ties to Nazis
- Historian Jeremy Kuzmarov calls on Obama to pardon Ethel Rosenberg
- Garry Wills says there’s one human test we can use to decide who’s the better candidate: Trump or Clinton
- Get to Know the Semifinalists for the National Book Award
- Steven Runciman — historian, tease and professional enigma — is the subject of a biography
- Historian Eric Foner: Trump is Logical Conclusion of What the GOP Has Been Doing for Decades