Friday, April 21, 2017

Truth, Justice, and the "American Way"

No, this is not a post about Superman. Except, maybe it is a little bit. Or a lot.

"Truth, justice, and the American way," as a phrase, has been around for long enough at this point that people don't realize it originated with Superman. They may know it's been associated with Superman but most people think it's its own thing, not what amounts to a marketing phrase for the 50's Adventures of Superman, the Superman show I watched in syndication when I was a kid.

I'm not sure if there was an idea tying truth and justice to America prior to Superman (and I'm not doing the research on that, right now, to try and figure it out),but Superman, since his inception, has been tied to truth and justice. From the early days of the comic book to his days on the radio and, then, in the earlier TV series, Superman always stated that he was here to fight for truth and justice. That's all, just truth and justice. Those, to me, seem like things worth fighting for. I'm not so sure about the "American way."

See, the "American way" was something tossed in during the 50s in the midst of the Red Scare and McCarthy-ism and was less about America than it was about White America: Leave It To Beaver, white picket fences, and Father Knows Best. Probably some Andy Griffith, too. TV in the 50s was all about the "American way," and it's hard for me to dissociate that idea from those TV shows because they epitomize so much of the idea of the "American way."

And I'm not going to try and say that there's nothing attractive about those shows and the, for lack of a better word, ideal they put on display. But it was all a fantasy. Real life America was never like Father Knows Best or Mayberry. Real life America has never been all White all the time in nice little subdivisions with white picket fences. And it's never been about women who wear their heels and pearls in the kitchen while making dinner all day. All of this isn't even a White fantasy; it's a White Male fantasy about how everyone else lives to serve them in their own individual little kingdoms.

It's kind of sick.

It's possible I wouldn't have a problem with the whole "truth, justice, and the American way" thing if truth and justice were a part of it, had ever been a part of it. But the "American way," as it applies here, has always been about white male supremacy. It's why Steve Bannon holds the 50s up as his ideal era of what we need to get back to. The White Male was supreme, and everyone else knew their places.

As for truth and justice? We seem to have culturally abandoned those ideas of late. We've abandoned truth in favor of opinion and, even, outright lies. You can see the evidence of that in the man who was elected president, a man with absolutely no relationship with truth whatsoever. His lackeys display the same break from reality with their "alternative facts" and misrepresentation of historical accuracy. Sorry folks, history is not an opinion. Things happened. Saying they didn't or trying to recast those events in some other light doesn't make them not have happened.

And we've abandoned justice in favor of racial prejudice and allowing the rich more and more power and money. "We" have allowed the Republicans to wave religious dogma at Conservatives to keep them in power so that they can continually enable corporations the ability to take advantage of people, poison their water, and keep them in debt. That Jeff Sessions and Neil Gorsuch are where they are serve as proof that we have shoved justice down the stairs and broken her scales. We have become the money lenders in the Temple, and have elected the worst of them as president.

This seems to be the "American Way": no truth, no justice, just the dream of white picket fences in white neighbors with white schools.

Superman isn't coming. It's time to abandon this "American Way" nonsense as the fable it always was. It's time to stand for truth and justice. Truth and Justice! Which means demanding, all of us, that we have politicians who are knowledgeable, smart, and believe in facts, not money. It means demanding a change to the system so that the system doesn't check our skin color before it decides who gets a fair shake. It's time.


  1. So, to rock the boat a little, let me just say this (as a fan of The Andy Griffith Show). It's a common misconception that Mayberry was an all white town. Yes, the main characters are white, and in that time period I wouldn't have expected any different, but if you watch, you'll see that there ARE black people in town. Not only that, but they're mixed in with the white people. In other words, they're part of everyday Mayberry society, which I find to be the most important part.

    (There are more pictures but I don't want to spam you with links)

    Oh, and Opie's football coach, Flip Conroy, was a former NFL football player. Also black. And in that episode, all of the children light up with glee when they hear that Flip is their new coach and all fall over each other trying to shake his hand. In fact, the whole conflict of the episode is that Opie can't figure out whether he wants to learn piano or learn football, and the kicker is that at the end, Flip comes over to Andy's house to talk to Andy and Opie about it, and Andy says that you can't do two things at once and be good at them. He says Opie has to choose one.

    And then Flip gets on the piano and plays a beautiful melody and shows an awestruck Andy that he's all wrong.

    And let's not forget that Barney's Judo instructor was an Asian man named Mr. Izamoto. In fact, when Barney was being harassed by a huge redneck, Andy asked Mr. Izamoto to dress up like Barney and beat the crap out of said huge redneck in the dark so that he'd think it was Barney and leave him alone. And he did. Like a complete badass.

    Ultimately, race is never mentioned in Mayberry. But there are other races to be found, all around town, and no one talks about it. No one treats them any differently. And isn't that the ideal? Living in a society where everyone is just who they are, and no one has to talk about it all about the time or act like it's a big deal?

    No, I don't want to go back to the 1960s (Andy Griffith was aired in the 60s, not the 50s). And yes, there are people who fawn over Mayberry simply because it's predominantly white, which it is, but to me, the ideals of Mayberry (even if it's naive, and I get that, because it is, after all, a fantasy) is the aspect of community, the friendliness among strangers, that no one treats each other differently, the whole 'stop and smell the roses' attitude that everyone has, and perhaps most importantly, the friendliness of law enforcement. I'd love to live in a town where the sheriff is your friend, and he genuinely wants to help you and try to understand you, and he doesn't beat you into a coma for talking back to him and then shoot your dog in your own backyard because it was running up to greet him.

    To ME, at least, that's what the whole Mayberry fantasy is all about.

    1. Bryan: You've made a strong case for Mayberry, and I'm glad, because I always did love The Andy Griffith Show. It has been a long time since I've seen it, and you obviously have stronger memories of it than me.

      Was there a black guy who worked at the filling station with Gomer?

  2. My uncle talks of the '50s as this time of a strange disconnect. He was around then, and he remembers how things actually were versus how they were portrayed in the media. (It's so nice to have a liberal family.)

    Your post that we borrowed is up at Talking It Out today. Kind of a nice counterpoint to this.

    1. Liz: My relatives of that generation never really talked about it, but, then, they never really talked about the past at all.

  3. They would probably insist that the "American way" is everyone being treated equally, and by equally they mean exactly like a cis white male and if you want anything else then YOU'RE the one being racist/sexist.

    1. Jeanne: Except not, because they don't WANT people who are not cis white males treated like them. They want to be treated better. That's equality. As Orwell said:
      "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others."

  4. So many thoughts on this. Interesting that Superman (George Reeves) killed himself. Quite a repudiation of the American Dream.

    I was angry when some Dem commentators blamed the Dem party for the loss because they didn't "listen" or "reach out" to the rural people. Why should educated, well-informed, moral, and tolerant people reach out to those who aren't and don't believe experience and education are important? Who take pride in voting Republican because their grand-daddy did and if the candidate were a KKK member, they'd shrug and say, well no one's perfect. The funny thing is those people deny they're bigots because they think bigots are crackers. They think not letting black people vote because of districting or unfair ID laws isn't bigotry - it's just the law and should be enforced. If it's unfair to people? Can't be - the only "unfair" thing is if their candidate doesn't win and that "elitists" (the educated and informed) don't appreciate that the rural people are the "backbone" of the US. No, they're the dinosaurs and those who can't adapt die.

    1. Lexa: Some newer data analyses have showed pretty incontrovertibly that racism was the dominating factor for people who voted for Trump, whether the want to acknowledge it or not. And I'm really tired of those people telling me -I- need to find the "middle ground." But, then, I already did a post about that.

  5. Having white "Christian" family members who are overjoyed with the election results pretty much turns my stomach. This year's reunion is going to be tense. Your post says why. I can't embrace their "truth".

    1. Veronica: I know exactly what you mean. I am so disappointed in so many people I know but most especially in those who say, "Well, I don't like Trump and didn't support him [yeah, right], but he's so much better than Hilary."