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Will Douglas on America Today

On a bleak November evening, November 17, 2017, Will Douglas reported to the Circolo Berkeley on stormy weather in the U.S.A. His composure was in for a rough ride as he sought to keep the name of Donald John Trump from echoing around the Lecce piazza of the Orthodox Church of Saint Nicholas. It was a losing struggle but no surprise. Why shouldn’t Lecce aficionados of the English language be as obsessed with the tweeting commander-in-chief as the rest of the civilized world? Not that Douglas, who seemed akin to the ‘Rockefeller Republicans’ of yore, the dignified, responsible, moderate and liberal party of Dwight Eisenhower, isn’t as outraged by the present US administration as any bristling Leftist. However, his example and message was not to give up hope. He suggested we keep out of the current slanging match. It was imperative not to lose our heads in a flurry of lurid battle cries. We should proceed with reason sorting out the true from the false, keeping to the facts and trusting that the dark cloud of ignorance and demagoguery would pass. The neat audiovisual presentation dealt effectively with the problem any talk to the assembled Berkeleys faces. Some are native English speakers, some not. There are first-stage learners in the audience. In this case, some were familiar with the American scene while others saw it as a distant never-never land. Jokes based on wordplay or insider allusions had to be explained. But no better proof that a lucid and dispassionate approach works is that this one ended in a lively discussion. Will Douglas came into his own. He doesn’t dominate; he brings his listeners out. With any luck, his next report on the great but problematic republic across the sea will find us less disquiet about its intentions.

Peter Byrne

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