Aaron Sorkin’s new drama, “The Newsroom”, debuted on HBO Sunday night. In the opening scene, Jeff Daniels, who portrays news anchor Will McAvoy, delivered a stunning, hard-hitting, accurate, and intelligent monologue. This monologue is something that I believe every American should see, and if they can’t see it, it should be read, for I believe it is accurate and hits home at a number of issues we have in our society.
The monologue starts after a female college student, watching a panel discussion on which Will McAvoy speaking alongside a liberal and a conservative pundit, asks the question “What makes America the greatest country in the world.” McAvoy hedges against answering the question, not wanting to take political sides, but is pressured by the moderator to answer, when he finally delivers the beautiful words that follow:
“It’s not the greatest country in the world professor, that’s my answer.
Sharon, the NEA is a loser, yeah, it accounts for a penny out of our paycheck but he gets to hit you with it any time he wants. It doesn’t cost money, it costs votes, it costs air time, it costs column inches. You know why people don’t like liberals? Because they lose. If liberals are so fucking smart, how come they lose so god damn always?
*Turns to conservative pundit*
And with a straight face you’re going to tell students that America is so star spangled awesome that we’re the only ones in the world that have freedom? Canada has freedom. Japan has freedom. The UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, BELGIUM has freedom.
So, 207 sovereign states in the world, like 180 of them have freedom.
And you, sorority girl, just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day there’s somethings you should know. One of them is there’s absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world. We’re 7th in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, 3rd in median household income, Number 4 in labor force and Number 4 in exports, we lead the world in only three categories: Number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending where spend more than the next 26 countries combined, 25 of whom are allies.
Now none of this is the fault of a 20 year old college student, but you none the less are without a doubt a member of the worst period generation period ever period, so when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. Yosemite?
It sure used to be. We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reasons. We passed laws, struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were and we never beat our chests. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars, acted like men, we aspired to intelligence, we didn’t belittle it, it didn’t make us feel inferior.
We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election and we didn’t scare so easy. We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed, by great men, men who were revered. First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore. Enough?”
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