Jan 1 • 22M

Truth, Justice and the American Way

Everything we need back in 2022

11
3
 
1.0×
0:00
-21:59
Open in playerListen on);
The podcast version of Sasha Stone's Substack essays.
Episode details
3 comments

What’s so funny about Peace, Love, and Understanding?

We’ll leave 2021 with no stronger grasp on collective truth than we had in 2020. One kind of dystopian nightmare is exchanged with another. I wish Biden had tried to unite this country. But he didn’t. I wish the Left had not gone so utterly insane. But they did. I wish I hadn’t seen just how corrupt our media class in this country is. But I did. I wish I didn’t wake up from the comfort of the delusion that I was fighting on the right side, but I did.

I have come out of 2021 as clear-eyed as I have ever been. There is nothing good about that. The more you see, the more you know, the worse it is. Indeed, ignorance is bliss.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t go through many very dark nights this past year. For most of my friends that would translate as: fear of Trump supporters destroying “Democracy Itself.” But for me it was the feeling of being completely and utterly alone. Physically alone. Emotionally alone. I had four animals around me at all times, hovering nearby for comfort and warmth. But I had no one to share quarantine with in 2020 or 2021. I only had the the terrible, abusive internet which I kept returning to again and again for friendship, warmth and kindness. What I would get back, though, was either more abuse, indifference, and cruelty. That can distort how you see the world and how you see yourself in it.

I have contemplated more than once if I was anywhere near close to ending it. I never would because I have a daughter, for one thing. Also, I would worry about my four animals. Who would take care of them? Then I would remind myself that this is what it feels like to live in an extremely polarized, algorithm-driven reality and that none of it was real. Then, I would take a walk outside, see the smiling faces of my neighbors, and feel my feet on the ground and I would remember what was real.

A good friend of mine dropped dead of a heart attack at 57, reminding me just how suddenly it can all be over. And that time spent on Twitter is time wasted. As hard as it is to quit, my goal in 2022, among others, is to spend much less time there.

I do want to say a big thank you to you readers of this Substack. Having you here, subscribing - whether or not you read my newsletter — has made me feel less alone. Less alienated. Some of you I know and some I don’t know. But just knowing you are here means the world to me.

What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice and the American Way

The one thing I wish for more than anything is to have a country back where we are allowed to express ourselves freely and openly without fear.

As Sam Harris wrote two summers ago:

“We appear to be driving ourselves crazy. Actually, crazy. As in, incapable of coming into contact with reality, unable to distinguish fact from fiction—and then becoming totally destabilized by our own powers of imagination, and confirmation bias, and then lashing out at one other on that basis.

This isn’t just politics and human suffering on display. It’s philosophy. It’s ideas about truth—about what it means to say that something is “true.” What we’re witnessing in our streets and online and in the impossible conversations we’re attempting to have in our private lives is a breakdown in epistemology. How does anyone figure out what’s going on in the world? What is real? If we can’t agree about what is real, or likely to be real, we will never agree about how we should live together. And the problem is, we’re stuck with one other.”

I had to think really hard about exactly what I wanted back in 2022. Then it finally hit me.

We need Superman.

More specifically, we need to be guided once again by his principles: Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

Truth

The alternative narratives are messing with our perception of reality. We watch every day as the narrative is distorted on the Left and the Right. It’s hard to know what is true and what isn’t. While many will blame Trump for this, he’s been gone for a year off of social media and it’s as bad as it’s ever been. The news media is less trustworthy than they ever have been. Objectivity is very nearly gone. We just seem to be stuck in this place of endless Civil War.

For me, it was when the New York Times and Twitter worked together in a struggle session over the Tom Cotton op-ed I saw for the first time how we on the Left distort the truth to serve the narrative.

How long did the Kyle Rittenhouse narrative rage out of control? Did the media ever walk back their accusations that he was a “racist white supremacist who used an illegal weapon to cross state lines and kill Black Lives Matter protesters?” None of it turned out to be true, none of it. And yet, most on CNN or MSNBC or Twitter had the courage to even ask whether it was true or not. That is just one example of how twisted our perception of reality has been for at least a year, but probably longer.

The good news is that there are still plenty of resources to set the record straight if you can pull yourself out of the media bubble and find it. My year would have been utterly lost without the genius that is Matt Taibbi. Notice how in this video he says he would never simply accuse someone of being a “white supremacist” without piles of documents to prove it? Where did that kind of ethics in journalism go? Well, we know where it went. It got fired from most of the publications in this country.

The New York Times’ biggest blunder of 2020 was losing Bari Weiss, who is a pioneer now in leading the way for new media voices. Weiss’ podcast and her Substack have been absolutely essential. I always immediately listen and I always immediately read anything that sails through my inbox from her.

It is Weiss who encourages her readers to be open-minded and brave. It is Weiss who understands that unless we all start speaking out we will continue to live in a country afraid of the truth. That is what is happening now.

There are so many brave voices online and all of them have been attacked at one time or another and have built platforms outside the mainstream. While it’s a benefit to people like me, we still lose much by having people like Matt Taibbi’s work not make the mainstream. At least Real Clear Politics will often link out to both Weiss and Taibbi, which ensures more people will find their way there.

Here are some other voices on Substack I have read and appreciated this past year — you should read all of them:

Freddie DeBoer
Blocked and Reported’s Katie Herzog and Jessie Singal
Walter Kirn
Wesley Yang
Michael Schellenberger
Andrew Sullivan
Katherine Brodsky
James Strock
Nancy Rommelman
Antonio Garcia Martinez
Jeff Einstein
Glenn Greenwald
Darryl Cooper
Jeff Maurer
Abigail Shrier
The Liberal Patriot
Glenn Loury

Podcasts
Honestly Pod (Bari Weiss)
The Quillette Podcast
Megyn Kelly
Ben Shapiro
Walk-ins Welcome with Bridget Phaetesy
All-In Podcast with Chamath, Jason, Sacks & Friedberg
The Fifth Column Podcast with Kmele Foster, Matt Welch & Michael Moynihan
Unspeakable Podcast with Meghan Daum

One of my favorite new discoveries is Sharyl Attkisson whose motto is:

She has gone through all of the media “mistakes” in the Trump era, and all of the media “mistakes” in the Biden era. She is an old-fashioned reporter who believes in objectivity and ethics. I know, right? What a shock. Her podcast has been a must-listen for me this past year as I know she will always get the story.

Justice

We have been subjected to trial by mob for at least five years now. When Trump was elected and the entire established order of this country, aka the ruling empire, believed itself to be the “resistance” everything went out the window. The press was blamed for putting Trump in power so they did nothing but subvert the truth to attack him on a daily basis. On Twitter, the presumption of innocence went out the window completely. Almost every case became partisan fodder, with justice being rendered by mob and no one really having the stones to stand up to any of it.

While Superman’s definition of justice might have meant taking the law into your own hands when institutions of power fail, I mean it here as restoring faith in institutions. Everyone deserves not only a fair trial but a path to redemption when “canceled” by the mob, for starters.

But worse than all of that is how Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and other elected officials have inserted themselves into ongoing cases without any verdict being rendered. This was true when Biden falsely labeled Kyle Rittenhouse a radicalized Trump supporter who was opening fire on protesters because he was a “white supremacist,” true when Biden expressed anger at the Rittenhouse verdict after a fair trial, true any time Biden has commented on a partisan side. That is not the President’s job.

Laying it out in painful detail is Jonathan Turley for The Hill, who warns Biden to change course heading into 2022 and he’s right. Says Turley:

A president plays a critical role in reinforcing our system of justice. He not only represents our constitutional process of representative democracy, but he is given specific power to correct injustices through pardons and commutations. When passions turn to rage, a president can bring a needed voice for fairness and patience in allowing our system to function without prejudice or prejudgment. Conversely, if the president rushes to judgment, he becomes an enabler of mob justice.

Every jury member in this country is potentially under threat from the mob and they know it. In our modern-day surveillance state where everyone is a “children spy” to make anyone famous for anything they do - where video clips are often taken out of context and misunderstood that is all the more reason to fortify our justice system and try to diminish the power of the mob.

It is immoral the way people can be accused of something online based on a tweet or something from their past and have no due process or any way to defend themselves. It isn’t easy standing up to it, but stand up to it we must.

The American Way

In the new economy of the internet and social media, no one is safe. You are expendable. It is considered a privilege to have access to a major platform like Twitter, Youtube, or Facebook, not to mention publishing houses, movie studios, even fast food joints, universities, libraries, the corporate offices of Coke or Nike. You have only one choice: SHUT UP AND COMPLY. If you can do that, you will thrive. If you dissent, your job is on the chopping block.

Does that sound like the American Way to you? It doesn’t to me. Even saying it out loud, “The American Way” feels like it’s verboten, doesn’t it? Why? Because calling anything American carries with it a source of shame, at least on the Left now. I saw a couple with a baby on Youtube offering up a recipe for vegan pumpkin pie say, “We no longer celebrate Thanksgiving because it’s representative of genocide.”

It should surprise no one that this year DC Comics decided to change Superman’s motto from “Truth, Justice and the American Way” to “Truth, Justice and a Better Tomorrow.” Though never part of the original series, The “American way” was added in the early 1940s as part of the WWII war effort, and changed to “freedom” in the 1960s. It sticks with me probably because it was revived in the 1978 Superman with Christopher Reeve.

But apparently, in the years since, The American Way just isn’t on-brand anymore. As CBS News points out:

Still, DC's decision to have the head of the company officially announce Superman's motto appears to be a pointed statement that the Man of Steel is a hero for everyone, part of a wider effort across the company to broaden its representation. Most recently, on Oct. 11, DC announced that Jon Kent — Superman's son, who also wears the iconic "S" shield as a superhero — would come out as bisexual.

Why wouldn’t people see America as the most inclusive country in the world because it is. No other country has so much inclusion, so much diversity and is such a cultural and religious melting pot as this one. We get to decide what this country is. It’s more than a little heartbreaking that in 2021 there is so much hatred towards America and the idea of America. She deserves so much better than that.

While the modern Left wants to tear down America and build a new utopia they forget that it already is a utopia. It is built on the idea that everyone in this country has the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Just because these ideals weren’t upheld in America’s founding, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist or that we shouldn’t remember them or fight for them. America is the only country in the world that has Freedom of Speech written into its Constitution. At its best, we hold to those values, even when we disagree with what is being said.

America stands for the Land of Opportunity. People flee failing governments and oppressive regimes knowing that if they stake their claim somewhere in America they can build a business from the ground up. If their kids work hard they can become doctors, teachers, celebrities, tech moguls, and scientists, even millionaires here. No class system or caste system will hold them back, not if you stick to the founding principles of this country.

There is nothing funny about Truth, Justice, and the American Way, just as there is nothing wrong with Peace, Love, and Understanding. We need more of both everywhere and in everything.

I will close 2021 with this quote from a wonderful speech by Abigail Shrier - another Public Enemy Number One on the left - to the students at Princeton that she ends this way:

You will, each of you, have the chance to matter. You will find yourselves at hospitals or in banks or in courtrooms and at newspapers where you will see things happen that you know to be wrong—where you find that the standard line is actually a lie. You may have found yourself there already. If you’re fortunate enough, you may even find yourself one day with children of your own, knowing you are their best defense in this world. And you’ll feel the nub of your will, pressing you to do something—say something. And when that happens, don’t sit there like a sock puppet.

I’m 43, which I realize makes me very old to many of you. But not so long from now, you’ll wake up and be 43 yourselves. And when I look back on my life thus far, it occurs to me that the decisions of which I am most proud—the ones that strike like an unexpected kiss—are not the times when I obeyed the algorithm. They’re the times when I defied it and felt, for a moment, the magic and power of being alive. When I felt, even for an instant, the exquisite joy of not being anyone’s subject. When I had the unmistakable sense that I’ve existed for a purpose, that I stood the chance of leaving the world better than I found it. You don’t get any of that through lock-step career achievement and you certainly don’t get that by being the Left’s star pupil.

You feel that frisson when you choose a person to commit yourself to knowing full well that any marriage may fail; when you bring children into a world where there are no guarantees of their safety or success. When you summon the courage to fashion a life, something that will remain after you are gone. When you speak the truth publicly—with care and lucidity.  And when you say to the world: you cannot buy me with flattery. Purchase my colleagues or classmates at bulk rate. I am not for sale.

Happy Happy Happy New Year dear readers. Thank you for reading. Thank you for subscribing. Thank you for being there. All the best for 2022.