Not long ago I was cruising a Christian news site talking about the anti-gay bigotry of Chik-Fil-A and was surprised when the comments turned from the usual comedy gold ("ITT: CHRISTIANS WITH NOOOOO IDEA WHAT'S IN THEIR OWN BIBLE") to a woman pining openly for "the good old days." That's what she called it. And suddenly the whole comments segued into everybody waxing nostalgic about how awesome these "Good Old Days" were. Men were all strong-jawed family protectors. Women knew their places. Everybody had 2.4 kids, and those kids roamed freely with their unleashed dogs and baseball-carded bikes through neighborhoods of freshly-painted white picket fences full of people who meant them only good. And on Sunday all of these fresh-faced Mayberry residents were in church pews absorbing the Good Word of the Lord.
I don't need to mention that anybody with half a history education knows that these mythical Mayberry days didn't exist for most of the American population. If you were white, straight, Christian, middle-class or better, cis-gendered, and either the beneficiary of the patriarchy or a woman who bought into it, then yes, those were likely wonderful days for you. The world was your oyster. You expected to be the dominant, if not the only voice in government and society; you expected to be welcome wherever you went and your opinion heeded in whatever forum you cared to voice it. If anybody felt differently about it, they were clearly just deviant perverts, and they had the good grace to keep quiet about their demonic behavior and let the Mayberry residents have their day in the sun.
If you were black or some other minority, poor, a woman who had the nerve to believe she should have the same pay for the same work or any kind of say in her own reproductive capacity, a non-Christian, genderqueer, or gay/lesbian/bi/asexual, then you, my friend, weren't having such good old days at all. You faced discrimination on a constant basis. You were treated unfairly with no recourse whatsoever. You had no rights. You could even be killed for being an outsider. Even daring to raise your voice against the dominant faction could lead to ostracism or worse, and if that happened, there wasn't much you could do about it. In Boise, just the thought that a gay witch-hunt was coming led to good men committing suicide rather than face the wrath of the KKK-like Mayberry hordes. (Read that link, good Christians. That's what your "Good Old Days" is all about.)
I'd say that something can't be really "good" if it was only good for a certain very, very narrow segment of a population. How utterly, inhumanly un-empathetic can one person be, to take such horrible, flagrant abuses of human and civil rights as acceptable and even wish for a return to the days when they were common?
There's a deeper horror behind these heart-hungry sighs for these mythical "good old days." It is a horror that we need to understand and call out into the light to expose. What Christians don't realize they're saying is this: They miss the days when they were allowed to hurt, mistreat, imprison, or even kill those who weren't part of their clique. They miss the days when they could force their religion on other people on a constant basis, and ostracize or hurt those who didn't believe the same way. They are angry that they are no longer allowed to run roughshod over those who feel differently about things. They are ego-stung about not being allowed to push their backwards, antiquated idea of "morality" onto others. They are most especially livid that their voices are no longer the only ones being raised, much less being heeded, and that they are no longer the only ones who matter.
The world is changing, and they are no longer the dominant people in it--and they do not like that change at all.
What we are witnessing in these moments are people who once had dominance and privilege who are seeing those things very rightfully taken away from them. Just as a controlling, abusive husband gets more violent when he sees his wife trying to escape, just as a government clamps down all the harder when its citizens try to get free, just as bigotry becomes more virulent and violent the more people speak against it, privilege tends to react poorly--even explosively--when it is threatened.
When you hear someone sighing wistfully over these "good old days," know that you are dealing with someone who is bitter and angry about nothing less than the loss of their unwarranted dominance and privilege. It's the signal of a Christian feeling bitterness over that loss, just like the term "micro-evolution" is the signal of a creationist who has no idea what biology is. We need to call out this "good old days" myth for the cruel barbarity it is, and we need to press the point home that only those who are completely divorced from empathy for their fellow humans think these days were any kind of good.
What a disgusting "god of love" these Mayberry Christians follow.