Jan 20 • 1HR 32M

Ep. 65 - The Dissidents | David Bernstein

J.D. Richmond
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Coming from the Place of One’s Upbringing is a Super Powerful Narrative

By W. F. Twyman, Jr.

The place of one’s upbringing is an interesting space because one is leaning into purity of earliest relationships. These relationships are pre-Mass Formation, pre-Critical Race Theory, pre-Wokeism. These earliest relationships generate awareness followed by memories and experiences. Slogan words deny us our mindfulness in this world. Perhaps 40% of people are hearing the signals, extreme collectivism masked as slogan words, but the 40% in the middle are failing to heed the signals of how bad extreme collectivism can be. (See The American Soviet Mentality: Collective Demonization Invades Our Culture by Izabella Tabarovsky.)

People should pay attention to the signals, that one must self-censor and suppress one's sense of self. Self-censorship is self-sabotage as the writer Africa Brooke cautions. It follows that collective censorship creates a dystopia of collective sabotage.

In this podcast interview with public intellectual and writer David Bernstein, host Jennifer Richmond and I talk about the freedom to talk with each other free from slogan words. That sense of walking on egg shells is gone. In its place is a sense of give and take, mutual investment in ferreting out nuggets of insight and enduring truths. The conversation is not courageous. The conversation is meaningful.

David and I share a common experience in our upbringing. We both come from families where healthy argument was an inheritance from spirited uncles. I don’t know how many uncles graced the Bernstein household but I enjoyed a veritable debating society of fifteen uncles growing up. Uncles Robert Daniel Twyman, James Scott Twyman, Willie Ernest Twyman, Sr., McCormick Twyman – gather those uncles together at Grandma’s red brick home on Terminal Avenue and one was guaranteed four different opinions on any issue under the sun. And I was blessed as a nephew because I learned one could disagree without being disagreeable. David learned the same lessons from his uncles and we talk about coming from the place of one’s upbringing in our podcast.

My uncles would not recognize the world of self-censorship in families today. Men born in the 1920s would view the 2020s as dystopian.

I was reminded of an old joke a Jewish writer shared with me – If one asks two Jewish people a question, one will receive three opinions. Sadly, I would add if one asks three Black people a question, one will receive one opinion. How do we increase that number from one opinion to three opinions? Maybe this podcast is a step in the right direction.

For example, I reject slogan words and yet, out of curiosity, I asked David whether I should stay in my lane since my upbringing is not a ghetto upbringing. David’s answer is refreshing. Even more refreshing was my asking the question in search of David’s genuine perspective. I wanted to know, the hallmark of an intimate conversation. I asked David whether Critical Race Theorists were attempting to gaslight me, to disrupt my perception of my upbringing and reality. I may not agree with David’s answer but my goal was to understand, not to bully and manipulate the proper answer out of David.

John McWhorter has said we are witnessing the birth of a religion, to be Woke. I would say this podcast is part of a parallel movement which should be coined The Dissidents. The scripture of slogan words corrupts and disrupts open and honest conversations. And the disruption is race-based. Our goal as writers is to wake people up from the narrative, the mass formation, of Blackness is Oppression. Nothing Else Matters. In this podcast, David, Jennifer and I talk free of slogan words. We talk free of the deadening force of dogma, rituals. We talk as dissidents. We talk as human beings, not avatars for a race.

Reality should inform Theory, not the other way around.

Come join us.   


In the Hold my Drink — navigating culture with a chaser of civility, and Counterweight podcast, Episode 65, we speak with David Bernstein on the existence of culture, it’s use as a short-hand, where it can hem us in, and the myopia of current discourse and debate. We agree to live life “out loud”, speaking honestly of our individual experiences, in the hope of creating an inclusive community of dissidents honoring diversity and difference. All discussed with a chaser of civility, of course, and a glass of champagne.

Hold my Drink welcomes all people with all kinds of beverages to join us as we explore the truths of a chaotic and beautiful world, together.

Find us on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, or watch the conversation unfold on YouTube, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


Podcast Resources:

The Jewish Phenomenon: Seven Keys to the Enduring Wealth of a People, Steven Silbiger

Bad News, Batya Unger-Saygon

Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl

The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt

The Constitution of Knowledge, Jonathan Rauch

Who Decides What’s Racist, Persuasion, David Bernstein


A passionate advocate of the free expression of ideas, Bernstein is the founder of the Jewish Institute for Liberal Values, which fights for liberalism and against the imposition of ideology inside the Jewish community. He is also the co-founder of the Institute for Liberal Values, the past President and CEO of Jewish Council for Public Affairs, former executive director of the David Project and a former senior staffer at the American Jewish Committee.  You can find him on Twitter @DavidLBernstein