Meshach Taylor, died on Saturday at his home near Los Angeles. He was 67 and had suffered with cancer for some time. As the New York Times reported, “he played Anthony Bouvier, an ex-convict who starts as a deliveryman and eventually becomes a partner at an interior design firm in Atlanta, on “Designing Women,” which ran on CBS from 1986 to 1993. He was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1989 for his role on the show. In one memorable episode, Delta Burke’s character, Suzanne, mentioned “Gone With the Wind,” asking, “Don’t you just love that period of history?” Meshach Taylor’s character, Anthony, replied, “Actually, my people didn’t enjoy the Civil War all that much.”
It is all a matter of perspective.
For example, it’s interesting to read some of the explanations that black Democrat voters gave for voting for Thad Cochran in Missippi against Chris McDaniel. According to Slate magazine, (McDaniel’s) rhetoric decries the rise of a “new America” and pines for days of old: “There are millions of us who feel like strangers in this land, an older America passing away, a new America rising to take its place,” he said in a speech after the June 3 election. “We recoil from that culture. It’s foreign to us. It’s alien to us. … It’s time to stand and fight. It’s time to defend our way of life again.”
You see, the irrational logic employed by a Cochran and his handlers utilized McDaniel’s words regarding the “old days” and defending the “old ways” as code for racism. And the voters reacted in a visceral manner, returning the “old guard” out of fear, revulsion, and anger to vote for the “devil they knew” rather than the “devil they didn’t.”
You don’t have to love someone to vote for them, but you CAN fear or hate the other guy. America is too complicated to pine in mixed company for the “good old days.” Once again, it’s all a matter of perspective.
Many people say these words all the time, because through the rear view mirror and the prism of time, things often look rosier. They certainly were simpler… but as Meshach Taylor stated, it wasn’t that good for all of us. We didn’t have the capacity to enjoy all of it.
So, lets take a look at the groups you probably wouldn’t want to mention the “good ol’ days” to:
Black people in the south. No gory details, but unless you did time as a black person in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s…… um, no comment. Harkening back to an earlier period, well THAT would be insane, might as well start the meeting with “I… wish I was in the land of cotton… old times there are not forgotten”… because as you “look away to Dixie Land” black voters will flock to the “other guy.”
Women, of any age. Mixed bag here, but for the most part it is safe to assume that women are “people” too — anatomical differences aside — we all want the same ability for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Women have always walked a rather “narrow corridor” where one constriction has been replaced by another, and sometimes, we impose the chains on ourselves and others of our own sex. An example would be today’s young girls and their pandering for attention by getting “implants”… in their butts or boobs… all hoping above hope to make themselves “more appealing” to guys. My daughter’s friend who is all of 16 just got pumped up to a 36 D. All this on a very small frame and paid for by her dad. Another got a belly-button pierce. Its been infected a great deal, but who cares about a little infection that might travel to your heart when you can eventually be enticing with the diamond in the belly – this was a birthday gift from Mom and Dad – whatever happened to a nice card and small gift?
But all of this aside, women have made great strides over the past decades, they do not want to be reminded of a time when the restrictions were imposed by law and society rather than their own choice. The old days of women desiring to be “protected” may look to those nostalgic for these old times as “women being held on a pedestal” but to others, it might as well have been a burka.
Any non-white person. We covered blacks, but the “olden days” included the words “Oriental,” and “Mexican” to refer to any Hispanic, plus “Chica” or “Pedro” – the “n” word of any iteration and so forth could be used. It was also a time of deep cultural misunderstandings: “Orientals” aren’t all smart and they don’t all drop their r’s and turn them into l’s —- by the way, if you do this mocking speech pattern in a restaurant, be prepared for a velly, velly special meal – just maybe not one you wanted. “Mexicans” are from Mexico, not Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic. And they do not necessarily enjoy cleaning hotel rooms or landscaping, or extremely large families, or making burritos. Some want to be doctors and lawyers. Some want to milk the system. Some are preachers, and some are criminals. Same as the general population.
Homosexuals. The old days were very hard for those who did not conform to societal norms, of any stripe, but specifically for homosexuals. Often shunned by families, friends, mocked and called out of their names, life was terribly hard. And very little in the way of “good memories” were present in the “good ol’ days” for this group of people.
Preconceived notions allow the old days to seem “simple.” They were not. They were filled with anger masked by a facade of civility. We, as Americans, have a complicated history.
It’s all a matter of perspective. “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present” – so said Bill Keane
We must work for a good today, learn from the lessons of the past and prepare for a brighter tomorrow.
RIP Meshach Taylor.