United States of Anxiety The United States of Anxiety: Culture Wars introduces you to people who have been battling to shape America's political culture for decades. We profile culture warriors, past and present, who have influenced debates over race, religion, science, sexuality, gender and more. We connect those debates to real people, with real stakes in the outcome. We're filling in the blanks – aiming to answer questions you didn't even know you had – and we're asking, what are you willing to fight for?
United States of Anxiety

United States of Anxiety

From WNYC Radio

The United States of Anxiety: Culture Wars introduces you to people who have been battling to shape America's political culture for decades. We profile culture warriors, past and present, who have influenced debates over race, religion, science, sexuality, gender and more. We connect those debates to real people, with real stakes in the outcome. We're filling in the blanks – aiming to answer questions you didn't even know you had – and we're asking, what are you willing to fight for?More from United States of Anxiety »

Most Recent Episodes

Episode 13: How Ivanka Trump And Donald Trump, Jr., Avoided a Criminal Indictment

We've got a story from the WNYC newsroom that we really want to share with you. Our WNYC colleagues, Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz, in partnership with ProPublica and The New Yorker investigate how President Trump's two eldest children avoided criminal charges in a probe related to the Trump SoHo.

Episode 13: How Ivanka Trump And Donald Trump, Jr., Avoided a Criminal Indictment

Video: Living in Between Worlds

One Brooklyn woman's complicated relationship with the hijab and the experience of living in between worlds.

Help Us Map the Confederate Flag

In the wake of the recent violence in Charlottesville, where a protester was killed by a white supremacist, dozens of monuments to the Confederacy are being taken down. It's an extraordinary moment in American history, and in this episode, we stop to ask: When did the Confederate flag start showing up in the North? The story brings together segregationists like Strom Thurmond with Southern rock icons Lynyrd Skynyrd and TV's The Dukes of Hazzard. All of them helped bring the flag to a national audience in the 20th century, as white Americans struggled to make sense of the civil rights movement, and in many cases, pushed back. Additionally, WNYC is mapping the locations of Confederate flags in New York state. If you've spotted one, please let us know here! A Confederate flag in Delaware County, NY (Christina Hunt Wood)

Episode 12: The Counter-Jihad Movement & the Making of a President

President George W. Bush, speaking at a mosque on Sept. 17, 2001: "The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace." Donald Trump, campaigning for president on March 9, 2016: "I think Islam hates us." David Yerushalmi was living in an Israeli settlement near Jerusalem speaking on the phone with his father when the planes hit the towers on Sept. 11, 2001. "We got it wrong," Yerushalmi remembers telling his father. Before Sept. 11th, Yerushalmi thought terrorism was about nationalism, a fight over land. Afterward, he decided terrorism committed by Muslim extremists was driven by Islam itself — and underpinned by Islamic Shariah law. Pamela Geller and David Yerulshami(Pamela Geller) So he packed up his family and moved to New York to become part of a fledgling community of conservatives who would come to be known as counter-jihadists. They had an uphill battle to fight: In the aftermath of Sept. 11, President Bush and most Americans, according to polls, did not equate Islam with terrorism. But 16 years later, even though there hasn't been another large-scale terrorist attack on American soil committed by a Muslim, America's perspective on Islam has changed — evidenced most notably by the election of a president who believes the religion itself hates the country. Yerushalmi is a big reason for this change of heart. He's a behind-the-scenes leader of the so-called "counter-Jihad" movement, filing lawsuits pushing back against the encroachment of Islam in the public sphere and crafting a series of anti-Sharia laws that Muslims and civil rights groups decry as Islamophobic. "Do I think that the United States is weak enough to collapse either from a kinetic Jihad, meaning war, or even a civilizational Jihad that the Muslim Brotherhood talks about? No. At least not in my lifetime. But do I think it's an existential threat that allows for sleeper cells and the Internet-grown Jihadist that we see day in and day out wreaking so much havoc here and in Europe? Yes. Do I see it as a threat to our freedoms and liberties incrementally through their so-called civilizational Jihad where they use our laws and our freedoms to undermine our laws and our freedoms? Absolutely." Matt Katz speaks to Yerulshami about what he thinks is the creeping threat of Sharia law. Episode Contributors Kai Wright Matt Katz Karen Frillmann The United States of Anxiety is hosted by Kai Wright and produced by WNYC Studios. Listen to more shows from WNYC Studios: http://wny.cc/yzc4304odXp WNYC Studios is the producer of other leading podcasts including Freakonomics, Radiolab, Here's The Thing with Alec Baldwin and many more.

Episode 11: America's Fourth: Beyond Pie and BBQs

This fourth of July, one year after the podcast began, we look back at a culture that's made us so anxious, but also what holds us together, and where we're going as a nation. Since nothing seems to bind Americans more together than food, we're starting off with a key marker of American culture--pie. Kai Wright and Karen Frillmann spend some time partaking in a key American tradition-baking a cherry pie.They'll talk pie-making with food writer Kathy Gunst, coming together in the kitchen and what gets passed down along with a recipe. Kai Wright and Karen Frillmann bake a pie. (Cayce Means) Then we'll turn to Nancy Solomon, who's having a BBQ on a very diverse block in New Jersey where everyone from Donald Trump supporters to liberal lesbians live. We'll hear about their anxieties, and see just what they're doing to alleviate any potential tensions as the state gears up for a gubernatorial election later this year. Jim O'Grady delves into what exactly the Declaration of Independence means today, and Arun Venugopal checks in back in with Indian community in Olathe, Kansas where terrorist attacks occurred earlier this year. Finally, we'll be listening in to you, your thoughts, your fears, about the cultural wars in America. Episode Contributors: Kai Wright Jim O'Grady Arun Venugopal Nancy Solomon Karen Frillmann Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Episode 10: The Drug War

As the opioid epidemic continues to increase, we take a look back at the Sixties when the War on Drugs, a federal effort to decrease illegal drug use, was beginning to take shape. It was a decade of intense change in America as political assassinations took place, the Black power movement rose, and the Vietnam War intensified. It was also a time that conservatives, scared about the future of their country, were beginning to fight back. No one understood this more than Richard M. Nixon during his second run for president in 1968. Nixon knew that many people, especially southern whites, were afraid of the social progress that the country was making at the time. He also knew that drug use and crime were going up and that tapping into the fears and anxieties, while tying them to race, may have been just the strategy he needed to win. "The wave of crime is not going to be the wave of the future in the United States of America," Nixon said in 1968 as he accepted the Republican nomination, becoming the law and order candidate. It worked, and when he was elected he decided to make good on his promise, focusing not only on crime, which is often a state issue, but drugs. Drugs were a federal issue that was gaining traction among the public and in the political realm, as heroin use spread among both Americans at home and US soldiers in Vietnam. Christopher Johnson looks at the beginning of the War on Drugs in America, from it's roots with the Southern Strategy, to the strange support for methadone treatment centers, to the so-calledRockefeller Drug Laws in New York. "America's public enemy number 1 in the US is drug abuse,"declared Nixon in 1971 as he launched the War on Drugs. "In order to defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive." Though he didn't utter the phrase, Nixon's "War On Drugs" was a costly offensive whose long-lasting impact on drug policy, law enforcement and American culture continues today. Episode Contributors: Kai Wright Christopher Johnson Karen Frillmann Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Episode 8: These 'Witches' Are Empowering the Next Generation

In 2016, the campaign promise to "Make America Great Again" highlighted an important cultural shift. It represented the idea that the country needed to return to its traditions in order to be as prosperous as it was once before. But groups like Brujas, a radical youth collective in New York City, is using art, politics and skateboarding to reject these traditional ideas of America. Brujas, which means witches in Spanish, is part of a new generation of revolutionaries who are unafraid to blur the lines between culture and activism. They are all for disrupting the patriarchy, trans-liberation and prison abolition — and are doing it unapologetically. Sophia Paliza-Carre takes us inside the group, formed in a skatepark in the Bronx, to learn about their ideas on politics, activism and what it means to be young activists in 2017. Episode Contributors: Kai Wright Sophia Paliza Carre Karen Frillmann Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts. Music contributed by Princess Nokia, Tabby Wakes, Arianna Gil, Tony Seltzer, and Calvin Skinner.

Episode 9: Nixon's Enemies

This week we're looking at a President Richard M. Nixon, a man obsessed with winning. Whether it was an election or becoming a great leader, he would go to great lengths to ensure his success. But Nixon felt he was surrounded by enemies, so to make sure he triumphed, he had his staff create an "Enemies List:" a document with hundreds of people he thought could do him harm. It was part of the White House "Political Enemies Project," and included people ranging from some of Hollywood's biggest stars to members of the media to business and labor leaders. "It just so unpresidential for presidents to have enemies," said John Dean, Nixon's White House Counsel who disclosed the existence of the list when he testified before the Senate Watergate committee. "I mean, theoretically, the President is the President of the United States, not the President of the Republican or Democratic Party, or the President of the people who voted for him. We don't like to think of our leaders as being that narrow-minded that they think everybody is their enemy who isn't their friend." Beyond it's existence, the list was also remarkable because Nixon and his aides considered using it to try and find ways to use the power of the federal government to go after their enemies. How? One way was through the IRS. Charlie Herman looks at Nixon's infamous "Enemies List," an unprecedented step taken by an embattled President who worried about being betrayed by everyone around him. Episode Contributors: Kai Wright Charlie Herman Karen Frillmann Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Episode 7: In Jesus' Name... We Legislate

There's been much progress for the LGBTQ community over the past decade: the legal debate over same-sex marriage has been resolved, popular culture has largely embraced gay and lesbian people, and transgender people are gaining legal recognition. But as LGBTQ people make these strides, other groups have begun to claim that their religious rights are threatened by these cultural and political shits. Now, these religious groups are asking for protections too. This year alone, dozens of bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country, aiming to restore or protect the freedom of religion clause of the First Amendment. There have been fights over a bakeries refusing to bake a cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies, doctors who wish to refuse services to transgender folks because of religious beliefs, and more. In this episode, we travel to the state of Mississippi, where a bitter fight against a religious freedom bill called HB 1523 is being waged between the state and a group of people who say the bill violates their civil liberties — even their religious freedom itself. The bill, aimed to protect people of faith from "government discrimination," defines marriage as a heterosexual union, says that sex belongs only within a marriage between a man and a woman, and calls gender a fixed trait at birth. Mississippi governor Phil Bryant said HB 1523's goals do not include discrimination or harm, but said of its opponents, "If they're interested in protecting people's rights and also understand that people of faith have rights." One of those opponents is Brandiilynne Mangum-Dear, a lesbian pastor who ministers to an LGBT welcoming church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She, her wife, Susan Mangum, and her church, Joshua Generation MCC, have joined in a class action lawsuit against Gov. Bryant and the state. She feels that when most people hear about a piece of legislation claiming to protect religious freedom, they're all for it. The problem is, she adds, most people don't fully understand what it does. "It is discrimination in a pretty little religious box," she says. "We're good at putting things in religious boxes here in the south." Pastor Brandiilynne Mangum-Dear (Reniqua Allen) In many ways, this battle between religious freedom and civil liberties isn't anything new. We'll speak with Rims Barber, a minister and veteran civil rights activist in Jackson, Mississippi, and the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against HB 1523. He says that the culture wars we're witnessing today mirror those of the Civil Rights Movement. Barber officiated the first interracial marriage in the state of Mississippi, and helped desegregate its schools, all while other citizens said they shouldn't have to comply because of their religious liberties. Then, Dartmouth religion professor Randall Balmer will show us how those fights helped galvanize a powerful political force in America: the religious right. And, we'll hear the origin story of religious freedom bills like HB 1523. Episode Contributors: Kai Wright Jessica Miller Karen Frillmann Jillian Weinberger Reniqua Allen Matt Boynton Bill Moss Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Episode 6: The New, Old White Supremacist Movement

At the height of the election season last September, Hillary Clinton called Donald Trump's supporters a "basket of deplorables." "We are living in a volatile political environment," she said. "You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million." The comments spread like wildfire. The next day, Clinton walked them back, noting that she had been "grossly generalistic" and she regretted saying "half." Yet the sentiment behind the statement is true: a new movement of white nationalists is growing. Kai Wright takes a look at the so-called "basket of deplorables" and the alt-right movement that has emerged in recent years, from neo-Nazis to people fighting in the so-called "war on men." He also chats with Manoush Zomorodi and Kat Aaron from Note to Self about how white supremacists are arming themselves online. "The goal is just chaos. The goal is to shut down civic discourse, to make spaces where people are discussing important topics just so toxic that most people shut down," said Aaron. Episode Contributors: Kai Wright Jessica Miller Karen Frillmann Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.

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