My parents immigrated to an America whose economy boomed, then busted in 1929. Pop worked in the docks of New York City as a stevedore before the big crash. Mom was as passionate about raising a good family, regardless of difficulties, as she was about everything else. Nothing small, here – the scale was set high. Anything worth doing was carried out with a generous and loving heart. Our anchor was God and friends – not politicians and banks. It was a rough ride that made life all the more valuable for countering the many obstructions, day-to-day and hand-to-hand.
Our family was not unique. My parents were typical of the people who left their impoverished burgs and towns in Europe to strike new roots in American soil. As with the first Europeans who settled here and launched a new nation, the vast majority of subsequent settlers were God-and-family-oriented, strong in body and spirit, and fearless.
The early 20th Century saw America swirl into a storm of productivity, with creative advances in many fields. Breathless innovations in technology, industry, transportation, communications, and the arts remade the landscape and transformed the home almost overnight from “primitive” to “modern.”
The fantastic New York World’s Fair of 1939 enchanted me as a child and planted an unforgettable memory of progress with beauty. Growing up in the dizzying array of film masterpieces during cinema’s golden years – the 1940Fantasia still makes people gasp – spoiled me for life regarding excellence in screen entertainment. Soon color became the norm and black-and-white the option. Then television escaped science fiction and entered the living room to deliver live performances of stunning quality. I saw black-and-white TV turn to color and recorded music evolve from 78 rpm records to LPs, then to tape, as my ears witnessed the shift from “rich, warm sound” to exciting audio fidelity. All this with no computers, no satellites, no digital wizardry.
At mid-century, the drive and originality that delivered a vigorous and vibrant America to the world were still at play. Excellence was taken for granted in the performing arts. Sports and education reached incredible levels of achievement with a small fraction of today’s funding in equivalent dollars. Over 90% of students graduated from my high school (Bushwick, in Brooklyn), with far tougher standards than today’s.
Exceptions aside, as in all forthright discussion . . .
Up until about 1960, children that were not orphans had fathers and mothers living together in a nest secured with bonds of love and civil rules inspired by God. That life is sacred was taken as fact, not opinion. Women were cherished and respected by men who were brought up to be gentlemen. You did not require a high IQ to know that a man could never be the equal of a woman, and vice-versa. Respecting each other’s real differences, both sexes would laugh at the ridiculous notion that male and female are interchangeable, either in function or psyche. Such a claim, as made by post-Friedan feminists, reveal a mind tangled in abstractions and lost in wish lists.
It was concrete reality, not social science, that informed the actions and attitudes of the typical pre-1960s American, whether living in the boondocks or in the shadows of skyscrapers. He or she knew in the bones that science does not replace wisdom and aware that opinion is not a substitute for fact. The alert of every generation knew – and still know – that emoting is no substitute for thinking. The solution to real problems, not phony ones concocted by political pressure groups, needs a clear head grounded in objective reality.
Not everyone was aware of how easily the mind is warped by media bias and the will turned by mob attitude. But it was an essential aspect of the times that people who were serious about getting out of trouble or improving anything acted within the framework of reality and truth – the objective kind, not the “truth” of opinion marinated in myth and served with scientific dressing. Adulterated truth – the kind peddled by deceivers – is a trick that predates Christ.
It was understood – just as bleeding follows wounded flesh and friendship follows kindness – that freedom comes with responsibility for the consequences, bad or good, of one’s actions. “Experts” were home-grown, not hired by well-funded groups to push their agendas. People depended on priests, pastors and rabbis for guidance on troublesome matters, not on TV anchors, think tanks, NGOs, and others with questionable loyalties and ideas about justice and progress.
Change is inevitable. But the alert of every generation demand to know what any proposed change is from and to what. Being specific and clear is a basic element of communication, without which confusion, misunderstanding and, yes, deceit abound. Training the mind to perceive and to conceive clearly was, during my youth, a function of subjects like grammar and geometry – essential preparation for everyone, not just students preparing for professional or technical careers. Hard, disciplined thinking in youth forms essential neural connections not obtained any other way. The mushy language and fuzzy logic that prevail today would be considered evidence of poor education or sign of a weak mind by those who came of age before the dumbing-down of the last century.
The foregoing take on life generated a beneficial social atmosphere – friendlier and more open than it is today. We kids were safe on the streets and in school. Yes, there were gangs, as always, but schools were free of drugs and violence and none of them had barbed wire fences and police guards. Despite the presence of every form of corruption and deceit known to exist among humans, life in America was nevertheless upbeat and people generally succeeded in living their lives as they saw fit – not as agenda-peddling moguls think they should. The Constitution of the United States still grants citizens the right to live their lives and conduct their affairs with minimum interference from government.
In short, before 1960, this country was – it’s been said often – “another planet.” Having lived in that freer, far more open and natural environment, I report from personal experience as a resident of New York in that time frame that the graph of social well-being after 1960 turned swiftly toward the bottom of the chart. The atmosphere all over America has soured with a slew of prescriptions for thought, speech and behavior that stifle initiative, creativity, originality, and pit “oppressor class” against “victim class,” according to the latest designations posted by groups and agencies not elected by or representing the American people.
Like “the invasion of the body-snatchers,” America has changed from a relatively free and happy land to a decidedly fretful and contentious place. The fouling of an open mind in an open atmosphere and the collapse of morals that began after the 1950s was not evolutionary and not inevitable. It was the accomplishment of change agents infiltrating America’s schools and institutes of learning, publication, entertainment, seminaries – change agents with Marxist ideas and no loyalty to America. Americans fell for this programmed, “evolutionary” transformation. And before any could pick up the pieces, the changes became the “new normal” – that hoodwinking cliché of “progressives.”
Open political revolution, justified or not, is to some degree understandable. In 1776, serious grievances with the British Crown led American colonists to cut their ties with England and give birth to a new and independent country, America. In 1861 the South tried to sever its ties with the North for serious grievances; the failure of the South and the success of the North are chapters in America’s political upheavals.
But a social revolution? Over what? Were we suddenly not the same people? Was justice a matter of personal opinion, now? Was anything-goes to replace moral principle and sound judgment? Was the family obsolete? Was life no longer sacred? How did right become wrong? When did up become down? And not the least of the questions: Were the 1960s rebels smarter than the millions of people who came before them?
When I returned from Korea in 1955, I witnessed the start of the civil rights movement, which brought promise of major social progress in race relations. (It made no difference what color our skin was in the Korean War; we were all brother soldiers, thanks to a change in DOD policy following World War II.) But as the net descended over a hoodwinked populace whose offspring were being groomed in school to live in a socialist society under a global government, instead of in a free nation under God, those of us awake shouted foul.
Media-mesmerized Americans have no idea what happened to their country, let alone the rape of their minds and their souls by well-funded globalists manipulating media, education, politics and public service channels to advance their new world order.
For those who dismiss or downplay the seriousness of America’s “transformation,” let me remind you that when it has become “legal” to kill a baby on its day of birth, mutilate a child’s body when a boy thinks he’s a girl or a girl thinks she’s a boy, when it has become possible – nay, likely under duress of the law – to lose reputation, job, and liberty for speaking the truth (the “legal” outrages to society are beyond count), then you know we have taken a terribly wrong turn.
It is time for waking Americans to shout down every action witnessed or contemplated that devalues human life, denigrates fatherhood and motherhood, makes speaking the truth “hate speech,” and replaces common sense and morality with political correctness. This is a hard but necessary stand in order to make loud and clear to everyone throughout the land that Americans will no longer tolerate the deliberate and systematic dismantling of this nation.
In the meantime, God spare the children and their children from the worst of the rough road ahead.
Photo credit: Tim Green
Anthony J. DeBlasi is a veteran and lifelong defender of Western culture.