In the series premiere, “The Disturbing Confidence of Ignorance,” filmmaker Raoul Peck sets out to illuminate the intertwined currents of hate and bigotry running through history. Focusing on the United States‘ legacy as a colonial power, Peck explores how race first became institutionalized, the Nazi program of “elimination” and its antecedents in the West, and the looting of the African continent in a “gentlemen’s agreement.”
In the second episode, “Who the F*** is Columbus,” Peck revisits the stories of Christopher Columbus, the Alamo, and the Trail of Tears from an indigenous perspective, showing how “official” history is shaped by those in power and solidified by myth and popular culture. Next, he examines the “doctrine of discovery” used to justify the enslavement of millions of Africans and questions his own story within these narratives.
In the third installment of the series, “Killing at a Distance or … How I Thoroughly Enjoyed the Outing,” Peck looks back at human migration, trade, and weaponry, and shows how Europeans used industrialized steel to conduct warfare from ever-greater distances. Then, he explores the endless cycle of militarization throughout the centuries – from George Washington’s efforts to jumpstart American arms manufacturing, to the Monroe Doctrine, and finally, to the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In the series finale, “The Bright Colors of Facism,” Peck explores the challenge of reconciling America’s true history with its ideals of freedom and democracy, pointing to the struggle for native representation and the legacy of slavery in institutionalized racism today. Reflecting on his time in Berlin, Peck links the modern resurgence of white nationalism with fascism, slavery, colonialism, and Nazism.
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