Cultural Revolutions


All In The Family, the 1970's TV series in which Norman Lear sought to convince the world that Middle Americans were ignorant bigots like Archie Bunker, recently had its twentieth anniversary special on CBS. It brought back fond memories. Sure, the show was always—as Archie would have put it—your basic pinko propaganda through and through, designed to make us ridicule and repudiate our forebears and our traditions, and to turn us all into New Socialist Persons, or even worse, McGovern Democrats. But Archie Bunker was my first clue that there was such a thing as a reactionary, and that I could be one too.

Growing up in the 70's in the campus town of Urbana, Illinois, I used to run home from high school indoctrination class to catch All in the Family in afternoon reruns. Archie was portrayed as a rude, crude blowhard given to mangling logic and the English language; his lefty son-in-law Mike (the "Meathead") was shown to be intelligent, rational, enlightened, and progressive. I quickly decided I was an Archie sympathizer.

As it happened, I had a lot more company than I knew. A poll taken while the series was at its most popular revealed that the vast majority of Americans liked and respected Archie Bunker more than his son-in-law. Although they didn't share his racial attitudes, they saw Archie as the solid, patriotic workingman; whereas the Meathead was just an atheistic...

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