Honest News for Sane People
Common Sense by Bari Weiss
I’ve been on the lookout for people who can help me understand what is happening in our politics. Melissa Chen highlighted the latest project from Bari Weiss and I am excited to see where Bari takes it. For those who do not know Bari, she resigned from the New York Times after being harrassed for her independent views. Her resignation letter is a compelling commentary on the deterioration in the NYT’s standing as the paper of record.
A week ago, Bari created a Substack newsletter titled Common Sense with the tagline, “Honest news for sane people.” I want honest news and I am mostly sane so it seems for me. Her first post is called The Great Unraveling, and she nailed the political moment for me. She wonders how we can overcome tribal hatred of fellow Americans, and describes the change I aspire to engender:
“So part of my hesitation about what comes next is that I have been unsure about who will have the strength to stand apart from the various tribes that can give their members such pleasure of belonging. It is hard to know how to build things that are immune to these dangerous forces when the number of the people who are — or appear to me — immune to it is so very small.
Perhaps a psychologist can explain what makes these people resistant. Is it personality type? Is it principle? Is it rootedness in a real community with real people who you love and who love you and who you trust when they call you out on your bullshit?
I don’t know the answer. But I know that you have to be sort of strange to stand apart and refuse to join Team Red or Team Blue. These strange ones are the ones who think that political violence is wrong, that mob justice is never just and the presumption of innocence is always right. These are the ones who are skeptical of state and corporate power, even when it is clamping down on people they despise. The ones who still hold fast to the old ideas enshrined in our constitution.”
I hope to develop the sort of community she describes and to discuss how to foster the courage inside each of us to stand up for the old ideas.
She goes on to poignantly describe that the “veneer of civilization” has in the past been “so much thinner than people realized” and that by the time we see “revolution in the street” there have already been revolutions in people’s minds. She gives examples from the right and left that demonstrate how far people have come in their extreme views, and warns of the unhealthy degree to which a handful of tech billionaires control our public discourse.
I humbly suggest you read the piece as there’s a lot worth reading and, if you like it, please become a paying subscriber as I did. I will conclude this post with a quote she included from David Samuels, which resonates with my sentiments about the role we can each play in civil society:
“The good news is that the most important events of my life, and your life, will always take place more or less within a 25-foot radius of wherever we are standing. Like the Beatles said, all you need is love. So, try to be kind, and avoid making sweeping statements about large classes of people. Give food to the hungry. Tell your children that you love them. And please, whatever you do, don’t embrace anyone’s sweeping program for remedying historical injustice, because history’s victims are already dead-and soon, there will be plenty more of them. I can hear the sound of the engines revving up, even from here.”
Originally published at https://patrickbosworth.blog on January 19, 2021.