After the launch of America On The Fritz last weekend with the trailer going live, it is now time for the very first episode. The pilot! The real deal! Woohoooo!
‘Hate, Division and Violence’ is now live. It is an episode that I have been working on for a while. Not only in terms of time spent on preparing, recording, editing and all that. I have also been working on it a lot in my head. The day I recorded was the Monday after the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia. That weekend when alt-right and white nationalist groups organized a demonstration which eventually resulted in the death of a young woman. A woman my age. A young person with ideals and ideas about how to improve society. A woman who felt like speaking out. Like making her voice heard…someone like me. It’s weird how you can relate so much better to a tragic event when you can also personally relate to a victim of the tragedy. It’s human, but it’s still strange how that happens.
Anyways, so I went to an anti-Trump protest at Trump Tower in New York to find out how the city was digesting the tragic events.
At first, my experience was that of a pretty regular protest. Do not get me wrong, seeing Swastikas to symbolize an American administration did shock me. That is not what I expected to see on the streets of America just a few years ago.
And then I eventually met a Trump supporter, who had come out to the protest in a t-shirt that read ‘Trump Pence 2020’. Not even 2016, but 2020. He was chased out of the crowd violently, if not physically, then verbally, very verbally. I mean, you need to listen to the episode to understand how much hate and verbal violence that guy got in return for showing up in his outfit.
In the below photo, Blake — or whatever his real name was — is posing with another Trump supporter who had walked by a few minutes earlier. Only when that guy realized that there was another Trump supporter present did he feel comfortable to put on his red ‘Make America Great Again’ hat. It still beats me why people like Blake and the other guy come to protests like these. I asked them. They quoted the First Amendment to the US Constitution, the right to free speech. So they came to speak up about their own convictions at an anti-Trump protest. Quoting the First Amendment is all nice and dandy. But if you do that, then you are clearly looking for confrontation. That is simple common sense. And so that is what they wanted, certainly what Blake wanted. The confrontation. The debate. The argument. Well, he got outright hate and verbal violence instead. And it shocked me. I had rarely seen something like it before in my life.
How this country is clearly divided to such an incredible extent that a normal political conversation or debate is not possible anymore. At all! Then again, am I expecting too much? Charlottesville had just happened. The emotions were running really high. But still, I see and hear this also outside of that particular context. Americans, many Americans, have stopped interacting with the ‘other’, with the ‘opposing side’. There is so much black and white, yes or no, for or against, democrat or republican, clear-cut positioning going on in America. And as soon as it reaches a certain tipping point, you need to pick a side and stay there and not talk to the other side. If one tries to find the middle ground, one is not part of the debate. Whatever that debate is. If it even exists. It is quite depressing.
What I shortly discuss in the episode is the idea, the mere theoretical concept, of a new civil war in America. That really blew my mind. Blake brings this up with a lot of conviction: “we are as close to civil war as the mid 18th century”. He mentions it twice, and has a plan for how to deal with it, too! Limit it to the sanctuary cities and quell the uprising? Really?! I was flabbergasted, as you might be able to sense during the episode. This is something that had not crossed my mind in such a concrete way yet. Also not during the road trip I did from New York to LA via the southern route a few months ago. Then, I did have the feeling as if we passed through at least five different countries, with all their distinct cultures, music, food, dialects. And the whole experience left me with a fascination for the fact that the United States is indeed one nation state, and not five or more. Governed by a federal structure from Washington, DC. That is amazing! That is a huge political achievement! And something to be proud of! But a new civil war? No, that had not entered my mind even as the slightest possibility…Then again, looking at what is happening in Spain, and Catalunya specifically, right now. It is scaring me in a similar way.
In a later episode of America On The Fritz, I talk to someone in detail about American federalism, the meaning of local government and what that all means for the America of today. And I will understand America a bit better. I hope. One episode at a time.
Until then, listen to this first episode and let me know what you think in the comments below. And please rate and review the podcast on iTunes or wherever you listen to the podcast!