How America Went Haywire

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Duration 01:18:39

Pratt Institute / Public Radio International

Kurt Andersen is the author of the just released NY Times bestseller Evil Geniuses. He  contributes to Vanity Fair and The New York Times and was the host and co-creator of Studio 360, the Peabody Award–winning public radio show and podcast. He also writes for television, film, and the stage. Andersen co-founded Spy magazine, served as editor in chief of New York, and was a cultural columnist and critic for Time and The New Yorker. He graduated from Harvard College, where he was an editor of The Harvard Lampoon.


What's happening in America today is not uncharted territory, but the flowering of the DNA that has defined our country from its inception. From acclaimed, New York Times bestselling author and razor-sharp cultural critic, comes a new paradigm for understanding our post-truth world.

There's a tendency at this moment – this alternative-facts moment – to see our situation as an aberrant, new American phenomena. In fact, it is the logical progression of our national character. America was created by wishful thinkers and true believers, by hucksters and their suckers. Fantasy is in our bones. From Manifest Destiny to witch hunts to P.T. Barnum to Joseph Smith and the Scopes Monkey Trial. From Walt Disney to Billy Graham, from the birther movement to, yes, Donald Trump, we have proven, again and again, to be uniquely susceptible to magical thinking, delusion, illusion, conspiracy, and bullshit. In other words: what do you get when you mix epic individualism with extreme religion, show business, and everything else; run it through the Great Awakening and the Great Delirium, the anything-goes Sixties and the Internet Age; and let it ferment for a few centuries? You get Fantasyland, a place where reality and fantasy are dangerously blurred and mingled.



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barbara ann.fields

True Presentation

I found myself agreeing with you on all points. When I was living through the last 70 years I never stopped to evaluate how things changed but stayed the same. Donald Trump should have not been a surprise. Hopefully the tide will turn to what this country should be for all its citizens even those from whom we invaded here.

1 year ago
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