uspolitics from an external perspective
August 10, 2019 10:49 AM   Subscribe

“The Divided Soul of America” (42½min video, .mp4, magnet) Racism, intolerance and xenophobia have always existed in the USA. But under Donald Trump, America has become a bitterly divided country and the scene of a fierce cultural struggle for the nation's future.—Deutsche Welle English's DocFilm profiles the state of politics and society in the US.
President Donald Trump’s tenure in the White House has seen an alarming surge of class and racial hatred and xenophobia in a country that has always been defined by immigration. The lower classes feel neglected and bitterly resentful of what they see as a cultural elite and have thrown their weight behind what they see as a populist revolution against ethnic and cultural diversity. Filmmaker Jörg Daniel Hissen traveled to the USA to examine the sources of this conflict, focusing on a group of activists who are unwilling to accept Donald Trump and all he stands for. One of them is Paula Green, initiator of "Hands Across the Hills." She is an experienced crisis mediator who tries to bring people with opposing political backgrounds and opinions together through personal dialogue transcending all cultural boundaries. We also meet New York artist and activist Molly Crabapple, New Jersey photographer Dana Singer, African-American writer Brit Bennett, and the director of the Baltimore Museum of Art, Chris Bedford. Mark Lilla, Professor of the History of Ideas at Columbia University in New York, believes Americans are facing an identity crisis: "What is missing is a vision of political identity that we all share," he says "We have lost our common identity as a nation and a society." But if the different camps fail to rediscover it and overcome their mutual contempt, nothing less than the country's democracy will be at stake.
posted by XMLicious (10 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Weirdly, I found this really relaxing to watch. It felt good to just hear about all this nonsense where I live from a far-off perspective, free of the gaslighting that's so prevalent. Anyway, thank you for posting it.
posted by lauranesson at 2:02 PM on August 10, 2019

This short documentary only scratched the surface, but it asked difficult questions in a calm and sober way. It’s scary.
posted by growabrain at 2:07 PM on August 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Wouldn't play for me, try again tomorrow. But a vital topic. Since 45 got in I've noticed people here just avoid or elide any discussion of the us. At first it was simply profound disbelief, now ... now I think it's horror. as it looks like the 30's.
posted by unearthed at 2:17 AM on August 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

We visited some friends last night, and they shared stories of being on a recent cruise in the Mediterranean and encountering people from many different countries. They said that, to a person, once it was discovered you were an American, one of the first questions people asked was a very hushed "What do you think of Trump?" Apparently, once you answered that you weren't a fan, all the tension left the room and smiles appeared.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:11 AM on August 11, 2019 [5 favorites]

unearthed, Deutsche Welle's web-based player doesn't work for me sometimes, either. If you haven't already, you could try clicking on the .mp4 link in the post to play it in the browser directly.

Or if that still doesn't work then sometimes downloading the .mp4 file (by right-clicking on the link and selecting "Save as..." or something like that depending on your operating system and browser) and clicking on it from the desktop or a photo/video gallery app (if you're on a phone or tablet) may work.
posted by XMLicious at 6:37 AM on August 11, 2019

I was in a restaurant in Hail, Saudi Arabia a year ago talking with some locals when one one of them asked me what I thought of Trump. I said something like - I don't like him. They guy responded - you need to give him a chance.
posted by PHINC at 7:07 AM on August 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm right now reading American Nations by Colin Woodard, about the origin of America's cultural divisions in how the east coast was first settled, by Puritans in New England, refugees in Pennsylvania, Ulstermen and Scottish borderland inhabitants in the Appalachians and by aristocrat wannabes in the South, and how they translate to political divisions today, and it's hitting me close to home. I'm already at the point where on visiting the Canadian Maritimes, I felt I had more in common with people there as a New England transplant , than in places in the US South.

This video is under-stating what's happening.
posted by ocschwar at 8:35 AM on August 11, 2019 [5 favorites]

There's also a gasp-inducing lack of any reference to Russian interference in the 2016 election, social media, hacking, Wikileaks or even the Trump campaign. It makes the footage and interviews feel like they are from some alternate universe where Trump still won, but fairly and without an attack on democracy by Putin's government.
posted by Harry Caul at 9:53 AM on August 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

It might just be taken as a known event for the audience, since Russian election hacking certainly isn't limited to the US. It's regularly mentioned in the Deutsche Welle coverage I watch, more forthrightly than in most U.S. media; see for example around 31:45 in this documentary on a completely unrelated topic, artificial intelligence.
posted by XMLicious at 9:25 AM on August 14, 2019

I think this is related:

Whose "America" is it? Neil Diamond's big, inclusive vision vs. Donald Trump's narrow hatred (Chauncey DeVega, Salon)
An '80s pop classic reveals the depth of our division: Is there still room for Neil Diamond's expansive "America"?
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:59 AM on August 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

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