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Deep within our national consciousness is a love-hate relationship with the 1950's. Truth be told, at some level don't we all pine for the long-lost simplicity of a world where “Ozzie and Harriet” was considered a paragon of American family life and Elvis' gyrations could actually shock our collective sensibilities? We look back to the era with fondness as we cherish its icons and its innocence, yet at the same time we deride and reject our past as narrow-minded and prudish by modern standards. The nostalgia is like that of an adult who affectionately recalls a childhood to which, in the sophistication and enlightenment of mature years, he would never choose to return. Perhaps America has simply grown up.
But is it really all that simple? When we examine the fifties in all their complexity alongside our supposedly progressive present-day culture, the contrast is not as stark as one might expect. Have American morals really changed all that much since the 1950's, and, the more provocative question remains - should they have changed? It is undeniable that the fifties were rife with intolerance and injustices that have no place in American society. But these inequities aside, perhaps our predecessors deserve a bit more credit than we, complacent in our twenty-first century moral wisdom, can bring ourselves to begrudgingly give.
For this debate we will abandon our usual cloth napkins for the iconic burger, fries and hand-dipped milkshake (or whatever other classic American fare you fancy) at the local diner. 1950's attire is optional (but only for those who can resist its charm)! Our group will be taking a ride in a 1955 Chevy through this controversial decade as we debate its compelling issues concerning morality and the law. As always, this event will be in the form of a highly structured discussion led by a moderator. No outside knowledge is required and guests may participate to whatever extent they wish. (However, I will be sending out an email with more information regarding the specific issues to be discussed for those who would like to know.) There will be plenty of 50's themed fun and, of course, some nostalgic treats! Come on all you cool cats and chicks (I'm willing to suspend my feminist sensibilities for the evening) :o) - grab those leather jackets and chiffon scarves as we hotrod through one of the most beloved eras in our American history! Be there or be SQUARE!!! :o)
The restaurant will be providing us with special accommodations and seating is strictly limited! Please keep your RSVP's current and only reserve a place if you truly believe that you will be able to attend. As usual, I will be asking everybody with a "yes" RSVP to provide a contact number, as I may be calling everyone on the list a day or so before the debate in order to confirm attendance. If I am ultimately unable to reach someone then his or her RSVP will be changed to a "no" and, if there is a waiting list, the open seat will be given to the next person on the list to accept the invitation. Out of courtesy to the restaurant staff and in order to avoid interrupting the flow of the debate, guests should arrive promptly at 3:45.