The White Patriarchy Way
Is this the America some conservative Republicans want to return to?
If this 1977 cartoon rings eerily familiar to today’s troubled political climate, it should.
Set in the Seventies
Like today, the country in the 1970’s was running out of promise.
Discontent, frustration and anger ran deep especially among blue-collar white males. Faced with an unwinnable war, political corruption, and an ailing economy many Americans were feeling like losers.
A once great America was fading. The shiny America of post war promises and unending progress was now tarnishing.
The American Way Loses its Way
Authority had broken down, skepticism ruled and the slow disappearance of a universally accepted way of life challenged what had long been the consensus.
The marginalized and those without a voice would not be ignored, closeted, condescended to or discriminated against.
And they weren’t going away.
Feminists reveled in the power of sisterhood, gays liberated themselves from the closet, and Blacks were demanding affirmative action. While the forgotten began to have a voice, many in the so-called silent majority felt ignored.
The “American Way of Life” had shattered into a bewildering array of lifestyles and some felt American values and the nuclear family, the very bedrock of our society, was under attack. By the mid 1970’s Mom and Dad were divorced, the factory where Dad worked had moved to Taiwan, Sis was a corporate vice president, and Junior was out of the closet and gay.
Born again Christians wanted to restore the nations moral compass along more fundamentalist lines.
Middle Americans were feeling put out, overlooked and felt they needed to stand up and reclaim the values that once made the country great again.
That same sentiment and call to the disenfranchised silent majority is embedded in Trumps slogan “Make America Great Again.”
Trump even used the retro phrase “The country is fed up with what’s going on,” “You know, in the old days they used the term ‘silent majority.’ We have the silent majority back, folks.”
Those Were the Days
When this cartoon appeared, no one represented the silent majority of fading white male patriarchy than another sexist, racist, xenophobic from Queens, N.Y.
All in The Family’s Archie Bunker, that flag waving, John Wayne loving, loveable blue collar bigot became a powerful spokesman for those President Richard Nixon had termed the Silent Majority.
Resentful, Archie was fed up with intellectuals, women libbers, bleeding heart liberals, out-sourced jobs, and other elites intent on messing up a way of life that was working pretty well.
“I’m white, I’m male, I’m protestant,” Archie Bunker once declared. “Where’s there a law to protect me?”
Girls Were Girls and Men Were Men
Suddenly white male entitlement was being challenged beginning its slow decline. Like Trump supporters, he missed it and wanted it back. Just as Archie Bunker pined for the good ol’ days, today’s GOP has fetishized the Good Old Days not just in rhetoric or sentiment but in policy that aims to take us back to them.
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© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
I don’t know how to comment? I have been shaking my head in disbelief since D. T. first opened his mouth.
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I was really disappointed to learn that the John Birch Society is now growing.
I hadn’t heard that but am not surprised at all
@ Don Royster-The John Birch Society never really went away. They did learn to be silent for a while so as not to draw attention to themselves But it’s my contention that the tea party is composed of the rump of the John Birch Society along with the last, bitterest dregs of the Moral Majority,The JBS can do nothing but grow since they were down to the core when Wm. F. Buckley Jr. expelled them from the Republican party in the first place, and from the ranks of conservatives too.It’s too bad Buckley is no longer around. I believe only he, or someone with his gravitas and capabilities could perform the exorcism necessary to rid the country of tRUMP.
Totally agree there.
New campaign slogan: If you vote for Trump, you’re going to get the d.t.s.
Please, don’t disappoint me, sensible Americans. Don’t vote for Trump!
I sure hope we don’t.
I love this. Very elegantly written and really puts everything into context.
Thank you and so glad it resonated for you!
Wow! Great work Sally! As a life long devotee of sequential art (Hey Kids, Comix!)…I dig the way your layout emphasizes the strip by re-contextualizing it in the body of your piece. The more things change…
P.S. While glad my white privilege allows me to feel as warm as fresh loaf of Sunbeam Butter Top bread when I admire all the mid-century commercial art on the home page, I’m glad I grew up to realize that all that cute little blonde girl did was make me fat and sluggish in the long run! Make America Whole (Grain) Again!
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Your comment brought a smile to me!
The cartoons and ads brought back memories; none of them good. As a descendant of slaves it has always been a “bob and weave” and “duck and cover” life for Black folk in America. #Black Lives have never Mattered.
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All in the Family was probably intended to satirize vocal bigots, not to promote their worldviews. Archie’s kids repeatedly try to “educate” him about the modern world. But giving any airtime to such jokes was considered inherently offensive, so the show was pulled. Then there was an attempt at a successor, Archie’s Place, which promptly flopped. Yeah, in a way, “Whites don’t get it” was a valid statement. There are real historical reasons the resentments of women and blacks burn quite hot. The show’s producers can be faulted for ignoring the fact that their show would indeed offend a lot of folks. At the same time, I see declining marginal returns on the dredging of older material to rub today’s faces in guilt. It elicits pushback and denial. It also disregards another fact, which is that conservatives today aren’t like they were 40 years ago; all political orientations evolve. Which may not matter, because it’s not done to change conservatives’ sympathies, but to confirm liberals in their beliefs, rally them to the causes, and recruit a few of the undecided. Nonetheless, the multicultural understanding of history is no more free of myth and distortion as the “traditional” understanding ever was. Objective history takes a long time to achieve; we may literally have to wait 800 years for a balanced view of it.
Contrary to what you are saying about the show being pulled All in the Family ran from 1971-1979 and ranked in the top ten in the yearly Nielsen ratings from 71-76 and was the first TV series to reach the milestone of having topped the ratings for 5 consecutive years.TV Guide ranked the show as #4 in its greatest 50 shows of all times.
All in the Family was supposed to be a caricature, and Archie was supposed to be the prime example of how not to think and feel. Of course, people being what they are, sometimes they laughed along with it, saw themselves reflected in his prejudices and biases, then did or did not change their views according to their ability to be moved by a TV show. In much the same way that rural people liked “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Hee Haw.” It was primarily mass entertainment, with a touch of social commentary. Unlike those earlier shows which were just for laughs.
And it was funny. Full of Archie’s malapropisms, like his alarm after Gloria and the Meathead marched nude in a parade for some cause and was aghast at “full nudal frontity.” Funny with a sharp barb attached.
Underground comics were even more barbed in some cases. I guess your example falls under that classification.
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I also agree with that comment. I grew up watching that show, he was a basically a good person good valves family man. Just out-dated views. Just like many of us.