Is Apple Pie Next?

by on January 5, 2022 · 2 comments

in Election, Ocean Beach

By Joni Halpern

I was taking a little inventory of paramount American values that are still viable after the onslaught of the last few years of intractable divisiveness among our people.  I thought my list would be long.  It wasn’t.

I started out listing a value Americans have always cherished.  We insist we are the architects of our own destiny, that the lowliest members of society can reach the stars if they work hard enough to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.  However, if we look closely at this “bootstrap” value, we can see it appears to be crumbling at its foundations.

The “bootstrap value” has become something of a fiction for many people who have been trying to keep themselves and their families fed, housed and clothed, let alone managing whatever it takes to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.  Even in what remains of the middle class, there is great uncertainty about how to prepare children for economic stability.  Many among the affluent are eroding their assets in retirement funds and home equity to provide for immediate needs of their adult children and grandchildren.

Beyond the problems afflicting the middle class as a whole, the “bootstrap value” has been unattainable for entire racial and ethnic groups in America, due to the historic disadvantage of racism and exclusion.  In the past, thousands of laws across this nation overtly allowed the abuse, exclusion or even murder of Native Americans, African-Americans, persons of Hispanic origin, Chinese, Japanese, Jews, and at various times, immigrants and refugees from every part of the world.  There were no bootstraps for these people when the law was against them.  And even for many people of color now “liberated” by so-called race-neutral laws, there is still the residue of racism in unchallenged policies and practices that defeat their progress in our society.

We call ourselves a nation rooted in “the rule of law,” another American value.  We are fond of saying “We are a nation of laws, not of men.”  But lately that seems to have been true only as justification for quelling the protests of people fighting for racial justice, union membership, economic fairness, and other broad themes that became the subject of open protests.

On January 6, 2021, we witnessed an attempt to overthrow our government.  The politicians and public officials who supported that attempt were not concerned with laws, but rather with “men,” calling the participants in the outrage “patriots,” “tourists,” “peaceful protesters,” and “good people,” “very special people.”  Among the relatively few who have been called to account for their conduct that day, several have pleaded for mercy not as warriors for the enforcement of election laws – which is how they portrayed themselves during the insurrection – but as men, human beings, unable even to comprehend how they had engaged in such heinous behavior.   Treat us as “a nation of men, not laws” was their plea at sentencing.

As for the United States flag, another of our treasured values, participants in the assault on the Capitol were not marching under the Stars and Stripes.  They were marching under the flag of a named individual covetous of imperial enthronement.  In his honor, and at his behest, they bashed windows of an elected legislature, broke furnishings and symbolic statuary, stole private papers, searched out political leaders to kill or harm, and beat uniformed police officers, pitting themselves against democratic elections in order to crown a new king.  So much for the U.S. flag as a cherished American value.

Is “apple pie” the next American value on the chopping block?


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeanne Brown January 6, 2022 at 4:15 pm

As usual, Joni nailed the nail on the head. I’d like to add that we used to have a “Fairness Doctrine” ( that made sure that we all had the same facts. Now we are a nation of “alternative facts” that we act upon. That has allowed anyone to say anything that sounds good and there are people who believe it. I don’t know if we will ever come together until we have something to replace the “Fairness Doctrine”. I hope we can save our democracy and the apple pie!


Joni Halpern January 6, 2022 at 7:14 pm

Jeanne, you are so right in pointing out how the loss of the Fairness Doctrine has hurt us. I do not even find it comforting to listen to “news” programs on either side of an argument that report as partisans on any issue. They spend a lot of money on their staff members, from production to anchors. And they simply read social media or newspapers and pay partisan commentators to pontificate about what the articles say. In the process, they are making print journalists into stars, but failing to use the immense resources of broadcast media to search out the origins of real problems. Everything is “breaking news,” no matter if it happened a week ago and was reported in a major metropolitan daily. Meanwhile, the print journalists we used to depend on to give us a picture of our world from the bottom up — from our community newspaper to our metro dailies are cutting back staff or closing up for good. They can’t even make it online. Before the times when party prevailed over country, there were efforts to expand fairness in so many aspects of our lives. The Fairness Doctrine was just one of those efforts. Funny how the guy they call “the Great Communicator” was the one who engineered the destruction of the Fairness Doctrine.


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: