*Jackie Gleason played a bus driver on television in the 1950’s on a show called “The Honeymooners”. Ralph Kramden represented the typical macho American male who had no problem telling his lovely, bright and caring wife Alice: “One of these days….One of these days…POW right in the kisser!” Behavior in the 50’s America, many of us grew up with things which included, duck tail haircuts, Brillcream and bad guys called “hoods” and “spics”. Ralph Kramden was a typical working stiff trying to feed his family and make a living. Kramden never made the big hit, never scored the big score. He never hit it on those Friday nights he played cards with the boys after work. Ed Norton was Ralph’s best buddy who worked as a city sewer worker and had one bad idea after the other that seemed to get Ralph into lots of trouble. There was always a happy ending however even though women lived in a day without birth control and were relegated to the home and in many cases had to endure physical abuse from their spouses and boyfriends.
Ralph Kramden became the precursor to Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) and “All in the Family” in the 70’s. Archie worked two jobs, a loading dock foreman and a part-time cab driver. His daughter and her out of work husband lived with Archie and his wife Edith. “All in the Family” showed the changing values and ethics of the American culture. To make it, men had to work two jobs – or the wife had to work which was then totally unacceptable. Blacks, minorities in general and progressive thought such as abortion, gays and inter-racial marriage had to be addressed. In the real society, racial tensions were immense, riots, the Vietnam War protesters and every Institution of higher learning were under siege! Students were occupying University Administration offices for days – not hours. When the events at Kent State occured and the National Guard actually started killing students….the issues about the deaths of blacks became more relevant.
The values of America have changed a great deal since the 1980’s. The Presidency of Ronald Reagan restored confidence in our country, but with the entrance of George H.W. Bush and those that have followed; a blood lust has consumed our culture (with three land wars – plus the war on terror) and our lack of caring or understanding for our fellow man. The hardening of our society has come through many years of greed, egoism, lack of respect for our fellow man. Our politicians have set the bar so low that their own acceptibility ratings are single digits. What we allow in our society would have been shocking to anyone that knew about Ralph Kramden or Archie Bunker. Those values are so far removed from modern realities that people have deceived themselves. Thoughts like “Restoring the American Dream”, ” American Exceptionalism “, “Defeating the Enemies of Democracy”, “Creating Peace in our Time”, “Living the American Ideal of the Shining City on the Hill”, are now nothing more than empty phrases that no one believes or can even conceive of in reality.
Sunday, at the Huntington Beach Surf Championships – this age old event since the 1960’s suddenly erupted into somewhat of a “Flash Mob Riot”. White kids were suddenly drawn into knocking over Andy Gumps and breaking windows and causing mayhem. How does this all connect? We have some terrible examples that are filling our society with hate, distrust and just plain meaness. We have the Anthony Weiners and Bob Filners’ of the world thinking that their behavior is above the law. What about the recent rulings of the Supreme Court of the United States? Are Corporations truly nothing more than average citizens and can do whatever they want without responsibility or accountability? What about the hate mongers that castigate our elected President at every turn? What about those that believe that “Greed is Good” as Banking Institutions break every ethical standards to collect huge annual wages and bonuses, perks and platinum retirement plans? What about the attacks on the middle class, requiring that people work twice as hard to make the same money they used to make? What about the attacks on Labor Unions and blaming them for the “Out Sourcing” and “Off Shoring” of American jobs to India and China and Europe? What about the Exporting of American Oil, American Argricultural Products and American Patented products to Foreign Countries without payment..through theft?
What about the future for our recent college graduates? What about the future for kids not going to college or seeking to graduate? What about the future of a country that has one party that refuses to help solve problems, but only want to create them, stop any progress and give more to the 1% of our society who refuses to share anything with anyone else? The riot at the U.S. Open Surf Championships in Huntington Beach on Sunday, required four separate Police Departments to come to the aid of the Huntington Beach Police to restore public safety. This is a worrisome indication. We cannot recall a prior time that any sort of riot occurred at a Surf Championship. If someone knows of one…..please report it – to remind us.
“It was a riot Alice…..a regular riot!” and it worries us a bunch as a harbinger of things to come!