Breaking Through The Wall Of Intolerance

There is a terrible fact Americans have to face in 2017. Our next President, Donald J. Trump, was elected by running a successful campaign of fear-mongering, finger-pointing and hate speech. This was unlike any campaign in recent memory and evokes a throw back to black segregation and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War 2.

We now face four years with a president that has no experience in politics, has little regard for foreign etiquette, and believes Russia to be a misunderstood ally of America.

Regardless if you voted for him or not, Americans must look at themselves and admit that we as a country allowed a pussy grabbing, misogynist, xenophobe to run this country.

Trump started his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists and proclaiming he was going to get Mexico to build a wall. His campaign gained momentum and he promised a Muslim registry. We as Americans didn’t do enough to stop this man from winning the highest position in the country.

The media is to blame for a lot of this. They saw ratings improve when talking about Trump and bent the rules to accommodate him. They allowed him to phone in his comments daily to news programs. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Gary Johnson and the dozen other Republican candidates weren’t allowed to phone in their responses.

More importantly, the media never called Trump out on his hate speech. They never called him on his lies. They didn’t block him, they didn’t ignore him, they didn’t criticize him. All while he continued to make outlandish statements about ethnic minorities.

Now many liberals and moderates feel their voices weren’t heard in the last election. They aren’t sure where to turn. Many are afraid that the rights they so diligently worked to gain over the past several decades will now be undone.

Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes hits home and showed the bewilderment many of us are feeling as Trump takes his position in the White House.

Streep is quoted saying:

“You and all of us in this room, really, belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now. Hollywood, foreigners, and the press.”

Streep went on to list major actors and their country of origin. She continued by saying:

“Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. If you kick 'em all out, you'll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts.”

Streep’s speech was great but it still didn’t point the finger firmly back at Hollywood. Entertainment and the media should have a mandate now to produce enlightened and poignant pieces about the lives and struggles of those minorities Trump names as bad Americans.

Change comes slowly to Hollywood and oftentimes after smaller independent studios have risked it all to produce a thought provoking piece. There is a Kickstarter currently underway that seeks to enlighten and educate our fractured American audience. Fear is a movie being produced by Peter Jang. It is about Islamophobia, Bullying and PTSD in America right now.

It’s a fictional drama that tells three concurrent, intertwined stories of an American combat veteran suffering from PTSD, his grief-stricken Muslim-American godfather who lost his son in the war and a bullied teen being led down a dark and serious path towards terrorism.

The movie navigates the rocky terrain of intolerance, misunderstanding and fear in a small Midwest town gripped with Islamophobia. Mr. Jang’s script has already garnered significant praise and earned a spot in the 2nd round of the Sundance Screenwriters Lab.

I spoke with Mr. Jang and he explained to me his motivation behind writing the script for Fear. He said quote

“We are living in a scary time. People all over the world have given in to extremism, blaming all other groups for their radical behaviors. Caught up in demonizing each other, people are trapped in comfort zones of information, perpetuating an endless cycle of prejudice. In the age of information, ignorance is a choice, and more people choose it now than ever before. My goal as a storyteller is to challenge audiences to step out of their informational safeguards and foster empathy through understanding.”

With this film, Jang said he hopes to humanize the struggle of Muslim-Americans, capture the harsh realities of PTSD, show the consequences of ignorance, and inspire understanding and compassion for all. Americans are constantly surrounded by politicians and celebrities demonizing Islam because of extremists who pervert its teachings. This film serves as a warning of what is to come if we allow fear to infect the way we treat each other.

Christian Howard, Peter Jang, and Wesley Clouden on set for the short film Nothing is Sacred.
Christian Howard, Peter Jang, and Wesley Clouden on set for the short film Nothing is Sacred.

Extremism has no place in the world and especially when it’s being spewed by the President of the United States of America. As we move forward, we must understand that life resides on a spectrum, and peace can only be a result of compromise and understanding. As the French proverb reads “To know all is to forgive all.”

Hollywood needs to produce more scripts like this in order to combat the rise of xenophobia being experienced in the country today. How do we get through to people who are demonizing minorities? The only way we can combat hate is to come together as a community of love.