Why Do We Long so Much for the Past?

Why Do We Long so Much for the Past?

We always think the world was once better, but was it really?
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It seems that all we ever want to do as Americans is go back to the past, where we believe things were simpler, or better. Sure, there were plenty of things that were great about our past, but why do we feel like it was necessarily better than the present that we have now?

People like Trump and all of his supporters love to say, “Make America Great Again.” But why not just say “make a better America” or something along those lines? Why do we feel the need to go back in time instead of push for positive and progressive change?

Sure, we were more social back then before cell phones, and we claimed we liked family values more in the past before sex and violence began to flood our media, but in all honesty, it’s probably just this romanticized idea of what life was like in the 1950s that we love more than the actual era itself. The past had just as many problems as we have now, and overtime we pushed to fix those problems, yet now when we face new social challenges, we don’t seem to think how can we fix these, we seem to just want to go back in time to this romanticized idea of the perfect era that was the 1950’s.

We act like our past was just another episode of the classic sitcoms that America loved back then. We believe that everyone was a bunch of wholesome family people who always had Dad there to make sure that Johnny or Sally got a date to the school dance, where they made sure to leave room for the Holy Spirit. A time when things like drugs or criminals weren’t even a problem.

We love to think of this as the past, and while this is all good, it’s not real. The 1950s weren’t all apple pie in the sky, they were also an era where women had fewer rights, and African Americans had almost none. If you think racial profiling is bad now, imagine a time when you were arrested for being African American and sitting in the front of the bus. If you think sexual harassment and the glass ceiling were bad now, imagine a time where women could only hope to get a job as a secretary or a nurse and sexual harassment wasn’t even a phrase yet.

Now, I’m not saying that we are perfect now, but we have to admit we have gone far as far as equality goes, and we still have work to do. And sure, we all would love to live in a world where people were a little more modest and families were closer, but we can’t keep pretending that the 1950’s we fantasize about as we listen to our Frank Sinatra records and tell stories about the Great Eisenhower, was reality. We had problems then and we have problems now. We have climate change and still a struggle with inequality, and I don’t think that those will be solved by going back to driving heavier steel cars that get eight miles to the gallon and bringing back segregation.

Cover Image Credit: Public Domain Pictures

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Ilhan Omar Is at Best Foolhardy and at Worst, Yes, Anti-Semitic

Her latest statements seem to lack substance, motivation, or direction.

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I find the case of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) to be a curious one.

Specifically, I am referring to the recent controversy over select comments of hers that have generated accusations of anti-Semitism. In all honesty, prior to doing research for this article, I was prepared to come to her defense.

When her comments consisted primarily of "Israeli hypnosis" and monied interest, I thought her wording poor, though not too egregiously deviated from that of most politicians in the current climate of bad behavior. After all, Israeli PACs surely do have a monied interest in the orientation of United States policy in the Middle East. Besides, if President Trump can hypothesize about killing someone in broad daylight and receive no official sanction, I don't see the need for the House of Representatives to hand down reprimand to Rep. Omar for simply saying that Israel may have dealt wrongly, regardless of the veracity of that position.

And yet, seemingly discontent that she had not drawn enough ire, Omar continued firing. She questioned the purported dual loyalty of those Americans who support the state of Israel, while also making claim that the beloved former President Obama is actually not all that different from the reviled current President Trump.

In short, the initial (mostly) innocuous statements about the United States' relation with Israel have been supplanted by increasingly bizarre (and unnecessary) postulations.

Those latest two controversies I find most egregious. Questioning the loyalty of an American citizen for espousing support for a heavily persecuted world religion and in defense of a refuge for practitioners of that self-same religion that has existed as an independent state since 1948, seems, in really no uncertain terms, anti-Semitic.

After all, is it not her own party that so adamantly supports persecuted Palestinians in the very same region? Is it not she and fellow Muslim Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) (who is not without her own streak of anti-Semitic controversy) that have rejected challenges to their own loyalty in being ethnically Somali and Palestinian respectively? Is her claim not akin to the "racist" demands that Obama produce proof of his birth in the United States, and the more concrete racism that asserted he truly was not? And (if you care to reach back so far) can her statement not be equated to suggestions that President John F. Kennedy would be beholden to the Vatican as the first (and to date only) Catholic to hold the presidency?

From what I can discern amongst her commentary, in Omar's mind, the rules that apply to her framework on race, ethnicity, religion, and culture as sacred idols above reproach do not extend to her Jewish contemporaries.

Oh, and may I remind you that over 70% of Jewish Americans voted for Hilary Clinton in 2016.

And yet, beyond even this hypocrisy, is the strange disdain Omar suddenly seems to hold for Barack Obama. Even as a non-Democrat, while I can find reason for this, it is still largely perplexing.

To begin with, I recognize that Ilhan Omar is not your prototypical Democrat. She would scoff at being termed a moderate, and likely would do the same to being labeled a traditional liberal. While she doesn't identify as an outright democratic socialist, one would have to be totally clueless to avoid putting her in the company of those who do, such as Tlaib or Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

As such, she's bound to have some critical evaluations of President Obama, despite the lionizing that the Democratic establishment has and continues to engage in. Two points still stick out to me as obvious incongruities in her statement, however.

First, Obama and Trump are nothing alike. Again, this coming from someone who does not regularly support either, I can at least attempt to claim objectivity. While Obama might not have been faithful to all the demands of the far-left during his presidency, his position on the political spectrum was far from the extreme bent that Trump has ventured into.

Secondly, there is the style of the two men to consider. While Obama had his share of goofs and gaffes (I still think it somewhat juvenile that he often refused to say "radical Islamic terrorism" when referring to Islamist extremists) he pales in comparison to Trump. Every week Trump has his foot caught in a new bear trap. Obama is enormously tame in comparison.

And in addition to all of that, one must beg the question of Omar's timing. With Republicans emboldened by her controversies and House Democratic leadership attempting to soothe the masses, why would Omar strike out at what's largely a popular figure for those that support her most? There seemed no motivation for the commentary and no salient reasoning to back it up, save that Omar wanted to speak her mind.

Such tactlessness is something that'll get you politically killed.

I do not believe Barack Obama was a great president, but that's not entirely important. I don't live in Ilhan Omar's district; her constituents believe Obama was a great president, and that should at least factor into her considerations. Or maybe she did weigh the negative value of such backlash and decided it wouldn't matter? 2019 isn't an election year, after all. Yet, even if that's the case, what's to gain by pissing off your superiors when they're already pissed off at you?

You need to pick your battles wisely in order to win the war, and I'm highly doubtful Omar will win any wars by pitching scorched-earth tactics over such minute concerns.

Her attitude reminds me not only of that of some of her colleagues engaging obtusely and unwisely over subjects that could best be shrugged off (see the AOC media controversies), but also some of my own acquaintances. They believe not only in the myth of their own infallibility, but the opposition bogeyman conjured by their status in a minority or marginalized group. As the logic goes, "I'm a member of x group, and being so gives me the right to decimate anyone who has any inclination to stand against me in any capacity, tit for tat." So much for civility.

I initially came here to defend Rep. Ilhan Omar, and I still do hold to that in certain cases. The opposition to some of her positions is unwarranted. She is allotted the freedom of speech, as are all Americans.

And yet, in certain other cases she has conducted herself brashly, and, one could argue, anti-Semitically.

All I can say is that I am content living adjacent to Minneapolis, not in it. You'd be hard-pressed to find me advocating for leadership that makes manifest in such impolitic fashion.

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