Sydney M. Williams
Thought of the Day
“Maurice Chevalier – Reminder of a More Innocent Time?”
August 28, 2019
“Thank Heaven for little girls;
they grow up in the most delightful way.”
“Thank Heaven for Little Girls” 1957
Sung by Maurice Chevalier (1988-1972)
Today’s emphasis on political correctness and identity politics has me thinking of the words above, written by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Lowe in 1957 and sung by Maurice Chevalier, in his(as described in the New York Times) “…magical Gallic accent.” My concern:In a nation with its focus on politically correct bromides for climate, identity and equality rather than collapsing infrastructure, failing public schools, a lack of control at our borders and entitlements we can no longer afford, would today’s PC Police permit such a song? I doubt it. Yet the PC Police are silent regarding the horrid, ill-mannered comments from Bill Maher on the death of David Koch. Why? Despite the incivility of the Left and the yearning from some on the Right to return to a time gone by, there is much about today’s world that is better than it was sixty-odd years ago:Civil and Women’s Rights especially, but also more comfortable lifestyles that stem from innovation and economic capitalism, like the ubiquity of air conditioning, the internet and cell phones. But there are also things that are worse.
The Left would have us conform to what they deem is correct – the substitution by the Business Roundtable, of “stakeholders” for “shareholders;” the granting of privacy to college students, which supersedes the interests of their parents; the acceptance of multiple layers of genders (New York State identifies thirty-one categories); a theocratic belief that man is solely responsible for climate change; that a ban on guns will eliminate mass shootings; that the answer to the immigration crisis is open borders, and that healthcare and college tuition should be free – it is a world out of “1984” where government dictates what we say and do.
These demands on the part of the Left are bereft of common sense: The owners of a public business are its shareholders. If the business is not profitable, no one benefits, certainly not its shareholders, but also not its employees, customers, suppliers, or the communities in which it operates. Students, at age 18, may be adults in the eyes of the law, but protecting them against “harmful speech” suggests they are children, at least in the minds of university administrators. Not all people are heterosexual, but biologically there are only two genders. To pretend otherwise, in the interest of “inclusion,” is to deny reality. To the extent we lose sight of that, society collapses into a miasma of hedonism. Anyone participating in a mass shooting must be mentally deranged. Can you, the reader, imagine doing such a thing? Also, how many mass shooters have been members of the NRA? According to the Washington Post, none. The climate is in constant flux. It always has been, and it always will be. Man has had an impact, but no one knows to what extent. Rich nations can afford to address the environment, while poor ones must focus on survival. If we want to reduce pollutants, we must help poor nations become wealthy. A country without borders is not a country, and if it has borders should it not defend them? Free healthcare and college tuitions are oxymorons. Apart from liberty in democracies and bad advice everywhere, there is no such thing as “free.” In this Seussian world, commonsense has given way to inanity.
In this race to destroy what has taken the United States 243 years to build (not 400 years, as the New York Timeswould have us believe), there is something else we have lost. And that is a lightness of touch, a sense of humor, the ability to laugh at one’s self and the enjoyment of words and music without fear of offending. People should be naturally considerate of others, just as they should take responsibility for actions they take. Empathy is a positive trait. The Golden Rule is something to which we should all adhere, but it should be learned at home, in kindergarten or in church, not as a policy prescribed by the State.
Yesteryear was not such an innocent time. Since time immemorial, powerful but immoral men have taken advantage of innocent – and a few not-so-innocent – women. Franklin Roosevelt had Lucy Mercer Rutherford; Dwight Eisenhower had Kay Summersby; Jack Kennedy had a number of ladies who shared his bed, among them Judith Exner, Mary Pinchot Meyer and Mimi Beardsley; Lyndon Johnson had Madeleine Duncan Brown; George H.W. Bush had Jennifer Fitzgerald; and Bill Clinton, like his predecessor JFK, engaged in multiple affairs with a long list of women: Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky, to name just a few. The point is not to excuse sexual exploitation of women – Eliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner, Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein deserve the condemnation society has provided – but to suggest perverts have always been among us, and that includes some of our Presidents who should never be seen as paragons of virtue.
It is not innocence we have lost, but a moral sense that has gone adrift. It has floated off without an anchor, an anchor chiseled from the institution of family and forged in the furnaces of churches, synagogues and schools. We have lost a sense of right and wrong, honor and dishonor, good and evil, the important versus the frivolous, truth versus lies, respect versus neglect. For most of his existence, man’s life was a struggle to survive, to find water, food and shelter. It has only been in the past hundred or so years that the average Western man has had the leisure to pursue such pleasures as vacations and has had the time to advocate for causes like the environment. But too much free time has given rein to trivial pursuits. We must recognize that to live together peacefully we need be respectful and use good manners. These are the civilities that make life endurable. While women and men have equal rights, we have lost a sense of graciousness that reflect our differences. Doffing one’s hat, opening doors were not expressions of man’s condescension toward women, but acts of deference. Civility and communality go hand-in-hand. As most of us are not hermits or recluses, such acts of decency are integral to our lives.
So, when you next hear Maurice Chevalier sing about little girls growing up in the most delightful ways, don’t take it as sexist or demeaning, but as it was intended, a song to love, life and distinction. With four sisters, one wife, one daughter and six granddaughters, I can assure you they do – grow up, that is, in the most delightful ways.