10:00:00

Start

      00:05

Commentary

Welcome to Trump’s America.

  00:12

  O-Ton Paula

Paula Green

Peace activist and conflict mediator

The country feels so divided, so angry in other parts of it, so full of stereotypes and prejudice toward people living in other regions of the country. It feels as if it's the worst time we've ever had.

00:30

Opener

 

Commentary

What has happened to this country, where society appears so irreparably divided?

Ab 00:37

O-Töne Diverse David, Thomas,Jeremy, Brit

 

00:58 Titel: Die gespaltene Seele Amerikas

O-Töne Diverse Jeremy, Danna,Mark, Thomas

Opener O-Töne

 

David Cay Johnston

Investigative Journalist and Author

So what is America now?

Thomas Frank

Political Analyst and Historian

Populism is the American way of talking about social class.

Jeremy Peters

Political Reporter for The New York Times

Trump punches.

Brit Bennett

Author

I don`t think racism ever really went away.

 

 

 

 

 

Jeremy Peters

Political Reporter for The New York Times

And so what is America if we are not optimistic.

Danna Singer

Photographer

I do think that a lot of people feel trapped.

Mark Lilla

Historian at Columbia University New York

One out of every five Americans is an evangelical.

Thomas Frank

Political Analyst and Historian

 

 

What is America ? Who are we as the people?

01:34 Ein Film von Jörg Daniel Hissen

01:36

Opener

 

 

 

 

 

Commentary

A culture war is raging over the future direction of the nation – and party politics has turned into an ideological battle.

01:48

O-Ton David

David Cay Johnston

Investigative Journalist and Author

The rise of fascism in Europe came when people felt they lost control of their economic destinies and in America 90 percent have lost control of their economic destiny. So they're desperately looking around for a savior and Donald Trump steps forward and says: I am your savior. Well he's the exact opposite. He is the devil incarnate for them. But if he tells them he is their savior and nobody else says that, they're going to turn to him and they have.

   02:16

Commentary

Right-wing populists have driven a wedge into the heart of American society, which could leave its mark for decades to come.

02:23

O-Ton Paula

Paula Green

Peace activist and conflict mediator

I think the divisions in our country have been very large for a long time. But I think now when you have a president himself who uses racist, sexist, homophobic, islamophobic language people in the community feel: If the president can say that, I can say it too. If the president can behave this way, I can behave this way too. So I think what was latent and hidden, is now out in the open and being expressed and encouraged.

02:53

Commentary

Right-wing activists are increasingly visible, marching through the streets, buoyed by the election of Donald Trump.

03:06

O-Ton David

David Cay Johnston

Investigative Journalist and Author

America is a country that is I think in very deep trouble. And it is possible not likely but possible that with Donald Trump we are seeing the beginning of the end of America as we have known it.

03:17

Commentary

The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States of America has posed one of the biggest challenges in the history of the republic.

03:24        

O-Ton Trump

Donald Trump

US President

Ours was not a campaign but rather an incredible and great movement made up of millions of hard working men and women who love their country.

03:38        

O-Ton Thomas

Thomas Frank

Political Analyst and Historian

I call this the backlash, the great backlash and it's been running since 1968 is when I would say that it really got going. And it's a backlash against liberalism. Donald Trump is not new. Donald Trump is a continuation of something that's been going on for a long time.

03:58        

O-Ton Thomas

Thomas Frank

Political Analyst and Historian

You know Trump has really achieved what the Republican party set out to do 50 years ago which is he has won over the by in large you know a huge part of the white working class in this country to the Republican Party.

04:16

Commentary

Paula Green belongs to a growing group of Americans no longer willing to stand by idly as Trump pursues his policies. A peace activist, she lives in the liberal north-east of the country, in the town of Leverett, Massachusets. Paula founded the internationally renowned Karuna Center for Peacebuilding and has successfully mediated between warring factions in places such as Rwanda, Bosnia and the Middle East.

04:49         Off-Ton Paula

Paula Green

Peace activist and conflict mediator

I feel there are other ways that we can resolve our conflicts and our greed and our neediness besides going to war. And we can resolve our fear of each other by getting to know each other instead of fighting each other. We can resolve our dominance issues by communication.

And I learned how people can build trust with each other and overcome even the war that the families of one side have waged on the families of the other side.

05:23        

O-Ton Paula

Paula Green

Peace activist and conflict mediator

After the 2016 election I wanted to take everything I had learned and apply it to our own country because the divides here I thought were just as toxic as they've been any place in a war zone overseas.

05:36

Commentary

Paula has launched an initiative aimed at conservative voters in other states. She hopes that opening up a dialogue will help overcome some of the barriers.

05:49        Off-Ton Paula

Paula Green

Peace activist and conflict mediator

We didn't understand what had happened to our country and the impulse to bring the little town of Leverett together to talk about this, was with this puzzle. What has happened to you and how did this happen? Why did it happen and what do we do about it? And I thought one of the things that we should do is see if we can try to understand who the people are who voted for Trump and what happened that made it possible.

06:14

Commentary

Donald Trump, the great divider, bringing democratic America back together again.

06:19          O-Ton Woman

Woman

Our community is a bubble of liberal thinking. And I was stunned by the elections, by the election results and really wanted to know what I had missed. How did I get that so very wrong.

06:32        

O-Ton Man

Man

I'm still angry because I have failed to come up with an understanding of how anyone can support a man of extraordinary cruelty and inhumanity and corruption.

06:52        

O-Ton Woman

Woman

My son married into a very conservative family. And as I got to know his in-laws I realized that they were very strong Trump supporters and they were very staunch Republicans. And I didn't understand it. How could they vote for Donald Trump raised the beautiful daughter that they did

who married my son.

07:20        

O-Ton Woman

Woman

For me I kept thinking that it was the media and the politicians in our country that had vested interests in keeping us divided and if we could meet face to face with what we've all along called the other, that we would find much more in common than we all had been thinking.

07:45

Commentary

The “other” she is referring to includes people living in the south-western state of Kentucky, once the greatest coal mining region in the whole country. Now, falling demand for coal has led to the closure of almost all of the mines.

08:00        

O-Ton Bill

Robert Meade

Former Coal Miner

You're actually looking at one of the larger operations that was in Letcher County right here. It's very sad when I see a load out that is not running coal. I'd like to see that coal coming to you folks. We were raised on coal.

08:16        

Commentary

Robert was one of those who lost his job in the mine.

 

08:24        

O-Ton Bill

Robert Meade

Former Coal Miner

This is Trump territory.  They want someone in office who will stand up for the ordinary person. Don't be in the political realm like it's always been in Washington.

08:44 O-Ton Bill

Robert Meade

Former Coal Miner

I just hope we never have another president like Obama.

08:47        

O-Ton Bill

Robert Meade

Former Coal Miner

I vote for Trump. I was a Trump man and I voted for him because he appeared to me like he would be the guy that would actually relieve us of a truckload of regulations that was strangling our country. And he's doing it and he's the kind of guy whether you agree with him or not he'll speak his mind. I like a man who speaks his mind.

09:15

Commentary

Miners all over the country have put their trust in a president who claims that coal has a future, and that climate change is a myth.

     09:25

Commentary

Robert pays his friend Gary a visit at another nearby mine. This mine was closed down under president Obama, but is set to re-open soon.

      09:41

Commentary

Gary is in charge of operations overground. He, too, is a fervent supporter of Trump, like almost everybody here whose livelihood depends on coal mining.

09:53

Commentary

But can Trump turn back the clock on the energy industry?

      10:07                  O-Ton Gary

Gary

Actually it is picking up. And Trump helped with that a lot.

10:12        

O- Ton Robert

Robert Meade

Former Coal Miner

If they would just lay off of him just a little bit. You would see mining come back about a third faster.

10:22

Commentary

Outside of Kentucky, very few people believe that coal mining has a future. But do the liberal coastal elites have any alternatives to offer to the people in the American hinterland who fear for their way of life?

10:32

Commentary

For Bill, coal is a God-given resource.

10:38        

O- Ton Robert

Robert Meade

Former Coal Miner

I'm an old regular Baptist. I believe that the good lord made it strictly for us to use and we need to use it because if he hadn`t want us to use it wouldn`t have made it. And that's the way I believe and I always will believe that. We're all... in this area right here, you're actually in part of the Bible Belt in the United States. We believe that Bible. Word for word. Sentence for sentence. Letter by letter.

11:05        

O- Ton Mark

Mark Lilla

Historian at Columbia University New York

We are undergoing two revolutions simultaneously in the United States. One is a political populist revolution from below. That's driven by class anxiety and kind of tribal feeling. On the other hand we are experiencing a cultural revolution having to do with representation and diversity that is being driven by cultural elites. And so what happens is that there is a conflict between these two projects. And the more that American liberals pursue and continue this cultural revolution the more it leads to a tribal reaction from below. And so populism is a combination of tribal resentment plus economic disenfranchisement.

12:00

Commentary

The Statue of Liberty in New York – a symbol of freedom and democracy.

 

But the deep divisions in Trump’s America are threatening that very democracy.

 

The mutual suspicion, hatred and lies form a dangerous mixture that could explode at any time.

12:34

Commentary

The febrile atmosphere and the dangers of right-wing populism have animated the art scene in New York.

12:42

Commentary

New York-based artist Molly Crabapple was one of those who took part in the Occupy Wall Street movement. She shares a studio with her boyfriend, the cartoonist Fred Harper.

12:55

Commentary

It’s hard to pigeon-hole Molly – she is a journalist who draws, an artist who writes and a political activist.

13:03        

O-Ton Molly

Molly Crabapple

Artist and Author

You have white Americans who both are suffering declining economic fortunes because of globalization because of automation because of an increasingly rapacious and inhuman capitalism but who also are feeling their position of supremacy slipping and they are incredibly threatened by the idea of equality.

13:29

Commentary

Molly often illustrates and writes for the news website “The Daily Beast”. Ahead of the 2016 election, she was assigned to report on the Republican Convention. She witnessed the chants aimed at Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, calling for her to be locked up.

13:42         O-Ton Molly

Molly Crabapple

Artist and Author

Originally I was there for the Daily Beast. This is an image of inside the pit. You can see the media people being separated from all the delegates in all of their many fancy hats. But I was also drawing the circus outside of it. Like this man in a rubber Hillary mask with an infidel T-shirt and his Trump versus Tramp. There is this air of just violent misogyny like, lock her up lock her up. Also this intense fear. I mean people they literally thought that like Black Lives Matter protesters were going to murder them you saw these guys and women with pistols strapped to their legs outside.

14:27        

O- Ton Thomas

Thomas Frank

Political Analyst and Historian

Populism is the American way of talking about social class. And it's always this idea of the average, people working class people against what they call the elite.

14:42        

O-Ton Molly

Molly Crabapple

Artist and Author

This is my portrait of what I call The Boar Of Babylon which is Trump as the biblical sign of the apocalypse riding his beast. I wanted to show that it wasn't just Trump. I wanted to show that it's all this deeply enmeshed corrupt system that's fueled on wealth that's very often fueled on ultra conservative Christian evangelicalism that's fueled on white supremacy. There's a whole much larger enemy than just Trump himself not just one man. And this is all members of his cabinet. But I wanted to show that you can't just cut one of the heads off.

15:20

Commentary

In the 1980s, the conservative president and avowed Christian, Ronald Reagan, left a lasting legacy in the United States with his policies of deregulation.

15:33        

O-Ton Mark

Mark Lilla

Historian at Columbia University New York

Ronald Reagan came along with an anti political vision of America where there would be less government, fewer social programs, a focus on the economy. For 35 years Reagan's vision dominated America and American Democrats and liberals those on the left, rather than offering a competing political vision of what we are as a country, got distracted by identity and cultural politics, seeing the country's different groups with competing aims. And so we were not in the fight with Reaganism and so populism developed without our trying to combat it. And with the collapse of Reaganism and no competing vision from us you get Donald Trump.

16:28

Commentary

Together, the apparently inexorable march of the populists and the failure of the Democrats to combat them pose a threat to American society. The country is at a fork in the road and so far there is no telling which way it will go.

16:39          O-Ton David

David Cay Johnston

Investigative Journalist and Author

If we don't get that real change than I believe that America will over time slip into being a fascist country. A country which will have a ruler not a president.  And to a lot of people, you know this is a lot of hard work: I don`t understand this stuff or politics is dirty and don't want anything to do with it. Imagine someone who comes along who has all of Donald Trump's charisma and marketing skills. But none of his deficits. Somebody who actually knows how to manage, somebody who actually understands world history, somebody who has real ideas but who also was a power monger and a kleptocrat. Well. That turns a society into something very very different.

17:20

Commentary

In August 2017, the culture wars escalated to heights not yet seen. In one of America’s oldest university towns, Charlottesville Virginia, thousands of people from various right-wing groups gathered to march in the name of "White Supremacy".

17:51

 

Photos

Commentary

The "Unite the Right" rally involved self-identified members of the far right, alt-right and White Supremacy movement. Many of the marchers were heavily armed and chanted racist or anti-semitic slogans at minority groups as they walked past.

18:20

O-Ton Brit

Brit Bennett

Author

I don't think racism ever really went away. I think, you know there is maybe a resurgence in the way we talk about it or the way it's framed. But you know I think that Trump and  sort of what has happened is actually pretty distinctly American. There's definitely a division by race I think you know America is a very tribal country.

18:46

Commentary

The march was held in response to a city order to remove a statue of the civil-war General Robert Lee, an advocate for slavery.

For many people on the political right in the US, Confederate generals remain heroes.

19:06       

 O-Ton David

David Cay Johnston

Investigative Journalist and Author

The rise of rightwing populism in America is deeply connected to the issue of race. Ever since Richard Nixon republican politicians have realized they can exploit race to get ahead. And it's much easier to say it's that black guy, it is that guy from Mexico. That's why you're not doing better, than to look at government policies, spending taxes, investments or lack thereof, health care.

19:31

Photos

Commentary

Facing the right-wing mob in Charlottesville were just as many counter-protestors.

19:54

Photos

Commentary

There were riots and violent clashes. In the end, one person lay dead and several more injured.

20:02

Trumpsequenz (Zitatrecht)

Commentary

Trump defended the right-wing demonstrators and refused to condemn the violence: a basic political taboo had been broken.

20:07       

 O-Ton Trump

Donald Trump

US President

And nobody wants to say that but I'll say it right now. You had a group you had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very very violent.

20:17        

O-Ton Paula

Paula Green

Peace activist and conflict mediator

Unfortunately it was not stopped by the president. In fact he never really reined them in. He said well they were good and bad people on both sides and well of course there are good and bad people everywhere. This needed a much stronger condemnation than it got. So it was an indication of what's now permissible.

20:38

Commentary

The cultural divisions in America are exacerbated to unprecedented levels by network television. The conservative Fox News and its liberal counterpart CNN reflect the ideological fault lines running through the US.

20: 53         O-Ton Jeremy

Jeremy Peters

Political Reporter for The New York Times

I think that what the right wing media does that is different especially under this president and you see this with Fox News and Sean Hannity's close relationship with President Trump. They call each other all the time they're constantly in contact and that's different. That's more that's more of a media partnership that shouldn't exist a propaganda even between a government and a news source that claims it's objective when in fact we have all the evidence we need every night from 8 to 11p.m. that it's not objective at all.

21:36

Commentary

Cartoonist Fred Harper designs the cover of the political magazine “The Week”. President Trump, with his frequent scandals and outbursts provides him with an almost bottomless reservoir of material. While Fred uses comedy and satire to poke fun at the president, he takes the shift to the right in American society very seriously.

22:03          O-Ton Fred

Fred Harper

Cartoonist

I think the country's becoming more populist. And it's been tapping into something that has been like a lump of clay that hasn't been shaped and these radical people that have been shouting all this time but ignored, they have always been in the fringes are now getting their chance you know to be in the spotlight and it's really scary now.

22:35

 

Commentary

American society seems to have lost its ability to form a consensus. The lines being drawn according to region, political allegiance, skin color and religious faith are ever-starker.

 

 

22:47

O-Ton Mark

Mark Lilla

Historian at Columbia University New York

I ran across an advertisement on the Internet for a real estate company in Texas and they're running a national campaign in which their advertisements say “Are you tired of living in a blue state with all those liberals who don't respect you and your family? Come to Texas. We'll find you a house. We'll find you a church. We'll find you a school and you can live among your friends.” And Americans are moving by themselves to places where there were random people who agree with them ideologically and care about the same things. It's unprecedented really.

23:30        

O-Ton David

David Cay Johnston

Investigative Journalist and Author

Dividing people by race is much easier to do when people are in economic stress and they're desperately looking around and saying why are things worse. How can it be that after 50 years of working I have gotten nowhere. And this divide is at the core of what's happening to America. Some people are doing fabulously well. But 90 percent of people are treading water.

24:02

Commentary

New Jersey, on the east coast.

 

Here, the American dream seems to be unattainable for the majority. Throughout the region are signs of dying industry and a white lower middle class that has been left behind.

24:23

Commentary

One person for whom the American dream has come true is the photographer Danna Singer. But she has not forgotten her roots, which are often reflected in her work.  

24:36        

O-Ton Danna

Danna Singer

Photographer

I grew up in a working class neighborhood and a working class family. My mother was a house cleaner and my dad was a bartender. Education wasn't really encouraged. It was. You know you were meant to like find a trade and you go out and you have a family. That was basically what everyone in my family did.

25:01

Commentary

Danna spent many years traveling through and documenting this forgotten America.

25:06        

O-Ton Danna

Danna Singer

Photographer

It is a portrait of a community, a working class community.  My interpretation of that community.  The community where I grew up. A lot of poverty and a lot of drugs. You know a lot of teen pregnancy a lot of drug addiction and so like there's this cycle of you know with lack of money comes lack of education and lack of health care. So my work looks at that a lot.  It looks at really the struggles of a working class community. What does that look like.

25:44        

O-Ton Danna

Danna Singer

Photographer

I do think that a lot of people feel trapped. I mean I certainly felt trapped. I think there is an undercurrent of anger in these communities. In America the Have and Have Nots that is defenitely present in almost every conversation that there is an element of anger and a sense of things being unfair, not equivalent in terms of class.

26:09

Commentary

The average income of a US household has dropped drastically in the last decade.

26:16        

O-Ton Danna

Danna Singer

Photographer

It's the rich and the poor. I think the middle class is basically gone. Who is middle class? I mean, even, I have an education but I haven't jumped class. Jumping class is very difficult. Your station in life is I think  nearly impossible to escape from. Right. Or it takes so long that it seems impossible.

26:42

Commentary

Today, more and more citizens are asking themselves whether the American dream was ever more than an illusion.

27:01        

O-Ton Jeremy

Jeremy Peters

Political Reporter for The New York Times

That's why the country is at a real crisis point right now because they say that things are not going in the right direction and that they fear America will not be a better place for their children as it was for them.

27:24        

O-Ton Danna

Danna Singer

Photographer

Even though I was working in these communities I just really overlooked how alienated they felt in their voice being heard. I do think that the working class folks really felt undervalued and ignored.

27:38          O-Ton Danna

Danna Singer

Photographer

Hey guys. Can I interrupt for one second. So I'm taking I'm taking pictures of basically Seaside Heights and Photographerg you know the community and the town. I love all of the American flags stuff that I see here.

 

Can I. Is there any way that I can take a picture of all of you guys who have American flag stuff. Yeah just like that.

28:04

Commentary

One major contributor to the divisions in society is the notion of American Neoliberalism, which worships the free market and sees competition as the only legitimate way to organise society.

28:17

Commentary

In Washington, the lobbyists for influential think tanks such as the libertarian Cato Institute beat the drum for laisser-faire capitalism and reject the role of the state involvement in tackling social issues.

28:31        

O-Ton David Boaz

David Boaz

Executive vice president of the Cato Institute 

Well I think libertarianism is the basic original philosophy of the United States. I want much lower taxes, much less government spending, much less regulation. I don't think we should focus on inequality. And I don't think wealth created in a free market is taken from the poor or the middle class. Maybe we've lost our spirit of mobility we've lost our spirit of enterprise that people are not as quick to move to where the opportunities are as they used to be.

29:04

Commentary

Republican economic orthodoxy places all responsibility on the individual for their own successes or failures. Intervention by the State is unthinkable. The result is a new class of forgotten people. Right-wing populists have succeeded in channeling their fears, which manifests itself as anger directed at cultural elites.

29:31        

O-Ton Danna

Danna Singer

Photographer

Things have changed. There's a huge divide in this country. I think there's no way you can escape it If you're living in America you are living in this culture of intense stress.

29:45

Photos

Freistehend

30:08        

O-Ton Jeremy

Jeremy Peters

Political Reporter for The New York Times

The country is changing faster than you are able to control it. That your vision of America and that's really the heart of it because there is no singular American vision or ideal or culture that when you feel that yours is slipping away you are going to try through the political process to stop that. And that's why Donald Trump's appeal was so powerful because he told those people. I will make America great again and again that's the most crucial word in that slogan harken back to for a lot of people the days when America was not as diverse when they didn't walk around on the street and hear seven different languages being spoken.

30:59

Commentary

Trump promised to “Make America great again”. To some, this was read as “Make America white again”.

The art museum in the east coast city of Baltimore aims to illustrate social issues, injustices and discrimination.

31:27        

O-Ton Chris

Chris Bedford

Director of the Baltimore Museum of Modern Art

We know that we are in a black majority city. 68 percent African-American. It is a segregated city. It's a city that is afflicted with poverty, gang violence, issues with education. It's a Womanght circumstance. And so the question is: How do you make a museum necessary? How do you make it useful? How do you make it a resource in the gathering place for a new future in a city like this? So that means, yes the exhibitions we choose are, not entirely, but largely by black Americans who happen to be producing the most relevant work made in the world today in my view.

32:01

Commentary                                      One of these artists, according to the museum director, is Meleko Mokgosi, whose exhibition addresses the notion of Resistance.

   32:11       O- Ton Chris

Chris Bedford

Director of the Baltimore Museum of Modern Art

So I think we're asking why art matters. Why it's necessary. But I think what we're really asking is how can we change society and how can we how can art be instrumental in doing that.  That's the real question.

32:23

Commentary   

Bedford seeks to give a bigger platform to works produced by non-white artists.

32:33

Commentary

African-American artists reflect how much of their own history has gone into creating modern America.

32:42        

O-Ton Stephen

Stephen Towns

Artist

I realize that some things that I experience as a person doesn't have to do with me. It has to do with history. It has to do with the culture of America. So if somebody sees me and they hate me or they feel like I don't deserve to shop in a store or they feel like I don't deserve to stay in their hotel it has nothing to do with me. It has to do with the culture. American culture,  that they were brought up in.

33:14       

 O-Ton Brit

Brit Bennett

Author

When I think about racism I try to think about mostly is not even necessarily the interpersonal interactions that everyone likes to focus on but the ways in which these sort of institutions are set up in America in a way in ways in which there are these sort of structures of racism. I think the idea of sort of we often frame racism as one person being mean to another person and that's kind of where the conversation stops. But to me it's more the structures.

33:42

Commentary

So far no president, not even Barack Obama, has succeeded in overcoming America’s deeply ingrained racial divisions.  

33:50        

O-Ton Stephen

Stephen Towns

Artist

So this is the first piece that I worked on. It's called Birth Of A Nation. And it was inspired by my reading this book: Incidents of a life of a slave girl.  And it really talked about the experience of black women here in America. These women were having moments of leisure. And there was this woman who literally had to leave her own children to feed her master's babies. And this just talks about the level of respect and veneration we should give black women.

34:21        

O-Ton Stephen

Stephen Towns

Artist

So I feel like we're sort of at a kindling point. I don't think we'll be in another civil war but there is a war of ideas and of thoughts and a war of people wanting to hold on to an old way of life that at some point is going to disappear away whether by force or whether by some happening by things have to change here in America. And I feel like Trump is just, he is a way of showing us who we were all along. And now we see the ugliness of who we are and we're trying to reckon with that.  We want to change it. We know that we have to change it at some point.

35:08

Commentary                                       The Baltimore Museum of Art regularly organizes panel discussions with well-known artists and writers. It hopes to help shape a new society and organize resistance to injustices. The public response has been overwhelming.

35:30        

O-Ton Chris

Chris Bedford

Director of the Baltimore Museum of Modern Art

We believe that we can talk about art and politics simultaneously. We want to be a place that's known for that. So I think that's the postulation and I think it works.

35:42        

O-Ton Mark

Mark Lilla

Historian at Columbia University New York

In the United States right now we are experiencing a crisis of tribal identities. What is lacking is a vision of a political identity that we would share. Right now we think in terms of racial groups and gender groups and regional groups people in the south against other people, religious people. But in part that's because we've lost our identity as a nation and as a society that we share.

36:25

Commentary

Can civil society find ways to rebuild where political elites have failed?

36:38        

O-Ton Paula

Paula Green

Peace activist and conflict mediator

I feel what`s incumbent upon all of us is to work as hard as we can to make sure that this country doesn't fall further than it already has. The country is so large and so powerful and it has the possibility of taking too much of the world with it both in terms of the environment and in terms of the politics. So I would say we're in the biggest trouble big trouble that we never could have imagined much bigger than any of us could have predict.

37:01

Commentary                                     

Paula and her husband Jim, along with other concerned citizens, have built links with a community in the red state of Kentucky. They hope to engage with each other and offer a forum for views that go beyond the usual cultural fault lines.

 

 

 

37:17        

O-Ton Paula

Paula Green

Peace activist and conflict mediator

We spent a long time trying to find a community that be our partners and we found a wonderful group of people in eastern Kentucky in the coal country. I live in a town that voted 90 percent for Hillary Clinton. And they live in a region that voted 90 percent for Trump so we were a match made in heaven and we've thought about a name for quite a while and we both live in hilly areas in the countryside and we were reaching out to each other so we called it “Hands across the hills” .

37:54        

O-Ton Paula

Paula Green

Peace activist and conflict mediator

Oh look. There is the sign. Coming into Kentucky. We did it. We are here. We're back.

38:04

Commentary

Paula has already met up with people from Kentucky twice in recent months.

 

After a 17-hour drive, Paula and her fellow campaigner arrive in Kentucky, 1,300 km from their home in Massachusetts.

38:19        

O-Ton Paula

Paula Green

Peace activist and conflict mediator

Wow this is beautiful. Look at this place. Just wonderful. What a beautiful place.

38:29        

O-Ton Paula

Paula Green

Peace activist and conflict mediator

This is another part of America. When you travel from place to place in the US, there are distinct kinds of popular culture and distinct kinds of historical memory and very different politics and that's playing out now on a grand stage in this country with the divisiveness between different regions. And it's almost ungovernable. It's almost impossible to hold it together. The only thing in common was we all killed the Indians. That's a sad thing that happend to everybody and in all parts of the country.

39:06

Commentary

Kentucky is one of the poorest states in the US. Unemployment has been running high since most of the coal mines were shut down.

39 :15

Commentary

People’s discontent is fueled by the conservative Fox News, America’s most watched TV network. It makes frequent use of apocalyptic imagery to evoke threats to American freedom and the God-given order of Christian supremacy.

39 :34      

 O-Ton Paula

Paula Green

Peace activist and conflict mediator

I can see three screens from where I'm sitting and they all have Fox News on and we would never see Fox News in our region of the country nobody would watch it. And I think it's the only media available to most people here. And sometimes I wish that I could tell my Kentucky friends what I read in The New York Times or heard on public radio. And what they hear and see is very different. So we have two completely different interpretations of the news. It's sharply divided newswise. And everything that they believe they've heard on Fox News.

40 :19

Commentary

In Kentucky, more than 80% of the population is white, conservative and protestant. Evangelical Christians are among the most loyal supporters of Donald Trump.

Every fifth American identifies as evangelical.

40 :45      

 O-Ton Mark

Mark Lilla

Historian at Columbia University New York

When is the last time you have seen an American movie with an evangelical character.

You haven't. Because there are not any. They aren't represented on television. One out of every four Americans lives in the south. If you look at television in movies the only time you see Southern characters is if they're racist or they're ignorant. And so there's this whole middle of America that doesn't see itself in the image the culture industry gives of the nation. Instead they see things that look to be not only contempt for them but also they feel lectured to.

41:45

Commentary

The artist Jeff Chapman-Crane was born and raised in Kentucky. His paintings capture the essence of his home state and its people.  

42:08        

O-Ton Jeff

Jeff Chapman-Crane

Visual Artist

There's a lot of frustration I think about kind of being left behind and forgotten. This area has been in some ways sacrificed for the rest of the country. Coal in the past has provided over 50 percent of the energy in this country. But it has come at a pretty high cost to this area. So I don't think the coal industry is ever going to provide the kind of economic support for this region that it has in the past.

42:40

Commentary

Jeff is one of a small minority in Kentucky who have consistently spoken out against coal-mining for environmental reasons.

42:49       

 O-Ton Jeff

Jeff Chapman-Crane

Visual Artist

So let me tell you about this piece. I wanted to create a piece that expressed how I believe the Earth feels. I believe the Earth is a living thing that feels what we're doing. And the devastation of strip mining and mountaintop removal. It's just I wanted to make a statement about that. And so I created this sculpture. It shows, it depicts mother earth whose body is actually the mountain that's being strip mined.

43:23        Off-Ton

Jeff Chapman-Crane

Visual Artist

So many people around us have different points of view. They pretty well know where we stand on things. It makes it difficult.

43:36       

 O-Ton Jeff

Jeff Chapman-Crane

Visual Artist

I think what is new is in the last decade or so we've gotten to the point where we really can't have a dialogue about things. People don't seem to respect each other's point of view. It's much more of an adversarial attitude towards our differences. If you don`t completely agree with me then you are completely wrong.

      44:06        

    O-Ton David

David Cay Johnston

Investigative Journalist and Author

America is a country that was founded on this unbounded optimism, this idea in the 18th century that we could govern ourselves and that if we ennobled the human spirit to see how it could flourish we could produce great things. Unfortunately America now is in a state where it has to decide whether we're going into decline or we're going to recover that optimism.

     44:28

 

Commentary

In Kentucky, optimism has given way to anger and desperation.

 

Gwen Johnson is from a family of coal miners and lives with her mother in their childhood home.

44:52        

O-Ton Gwen

Gwen Johnson

We've suffered from what we believe is a war on coal. And that was our only industry so we were hard hit by that and we are mad. And we are in despair. And so when Mr. Trump came along with his forthrightness and his willingness to offend if he felt the person deserved to be offended, it's kind of what we were feeling anyway. And I think that spoke to the people because there is some, somewhat of a brawling warrior population anyway.

45:42        

O-Ton Boaz

David Boaz

Executive vice president of the Cato Institute 

There is some anger directed in inequality but I think it's misplaced. In Kentucky there's a sort of dying industry. Coal in the eastern part of the state and people there want to know what are you going to do to bring coal back. Well the honest answer is economies change. Coal is no longer the economically most competitive way to heat our homes.

46:08

Commentary

 

America has always maintained that anyone who puts their mind to it can get to the top, but for many, the American Dream is just that – a dream.

 

    

     46:30                      O-Ton Mark

Mark Lilla

Historian at Columbia University New York

Americans need vision. We're that kind of country. America is a project. But right now we're in this period where we have no vision. We live in a vision free society and when that happens in America all the dark things come out from below. What's missing. Is a vision of the country that would speak to everyone that would get people to look beyond their particular tribe and recognize the fact that we're a country we share a destiny together that decisions are being made and we have to think of a common good as well and both sides the Democrats, the left on the one hand and conservatives on the right feel that they can play this tribal game and can win.

47:19

Commentary

America – an incurably divided nation.

 

Paula and Sharon are hoping to use personal dialogue to hear and understand the other side of America in Kentucky. They want to find out what, if anything, people of the United States of America have in common.

48:03          O-Ton Paula

Paula Green

Peace activist and conflict mediator

Wonderful. Well it's just so terrific to be here and be back in Hemphill where I never thought I'd be in my life.

    48:11          O-Ton Paula

Paula Green

Peace activist and conflict mediator

So one of the questions that we can ask ourselves is: How deep are these divisions in the country? How do you experience them?  How do you think about them? What are your concerns about them?

48:24        

O-Ton Woman

Gwen

I wound up voting for Trump. Because Hillary Clinton said she was going to put the coal miners out of business.

If we continue to be divided than we fall prey to those who want to keep us divided in order to control us. And if there's one thing I've learned by going to Leverett was that a conversation can bring up the common ground.

              

48:55          O-Ton Man

Man

The story is not red America versus blue America. The story is these divisions in every community. The fact is we have been divided by those who benefit from us being divided. And that's a lot of what Sharon and Gwen were talking about. And the fact is that when we are divided we are conquerable and that is what is going on.

              

49:21          O-Ton Woman

Woman

I do feel there is a divisiveness in the country and I think that it's felt almost all the time and I feel that it shows up in daily living. And I think that there are people who are afraid to express their opinions. It's even showing up in churches. The conversation is always on the pro side of what's happening now. Those who are of a different opinion wouldn't dare open their mouth because they feel they would be shut down.

49:55          O-Ton Woman

Woman

The kind of divisiveness that we've mostly been talking about today is really flamed by politicians and the media, that people aren't as divided as it would seem by the politicians and the media. And the real, real divide in this country is between the rich and the not rich and that all of this is kind of a persiflage to mask that.

   

50:31        

O-Ton Paula

Paula Green

Peace activist and conflict mediator

In our group dialogue it sounded like just about everybody is very aware of the extent of the divisions and the harmfulness of the divisions. And I certainly am I feel like there are more profound than they've been any time in my life and that they are extremely dangerous.

Those are not going to get overcome by these little dialogues because 300 million people in the United States and we're 25 people. But what I want to do is to try to set something in motion that gets other communities across the various political economic social cultural divides racial divides in this country to start talking to each other and the more that talk the more we humanize the more the divisions go down and the compassion goes up. And in my ideal world we have a politics based on compassion not a politics based on competition and hatred. That's my hope for our country.

51:26

Commentary

President Abraham Lincoln devoted his efforts to healing the divisions in the United States and re-establishing the Union after the bloody civil war. Today, Amnerica faces much the same task: rebuilding a divided society and developing ideas for a shared way forward. What is at stake is no less than the future of democracy and freedom.

 

      52:10

  

Credits

 

    

     52:30           Filmende

 

 

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