by UnHerd
Wednesday, 22
September 2021
Spotted
14:03

Ken Burns: America is in a pre-civil war condition

Few know American history as well as the documentary maker
by UnHerd

Ken Burns is a documentary maker known for his films on American history. Jazz, baseball, The Roosevelts, prohibition and the Vietnam war have all been subjects that he has taken on in the last thirty years.

Arguably his most famous film is 1990’s The Civil War. Considered groundbreaking at the time, it was watched by more than 39 million Americans. It received countless awards.

Burns says that the present day is one of the worst times in American history: “It’s really serious. There are three great crises before this: the Civil War, the Depression, and World War II. This is equal to it.”

He made the comment while on the “SmartLess” podcast, hosted by Sean Hayes, Jason Bateman, and Will Arnett, comparing America in 2021 with the Civil War, the Depression, and World War II.

Burns went on to quote a speech made by Abraham Lincoln:

From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some trans-Atlantic military giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we will live forever or die by suicide.
- Abraham Lincoln, January 1838

“We’re looking right down the muzzle of that gun,” Burns added.

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Robert Hochbaum
Robert Hochbaum
1 year ago

That’s interesting. Ken Burns is lately being questioned about whether it was right for him, as a white man, to produce a documentary about Muhammad Ali. Cultural appropriation and all that. His work for PBS is being questioned since he and his production company are too white, essentially. I recently listened to him defend himself in a radio interview and there was no amount of pushback on his part other than to say he hires minorities, etc. Basically, the knives are out for him and I think he sees it coming.

Andrew D
Andrew D
1 year ago

Black vs white? Terfs vs trans? Rich vs poor? Men vs women? Cancellers vs freedom-lovers? Muslims vs the rest? Pro-abortion vs pro-life? Most civil wars have two identifiable sides, but we appear to have a veritable smorgasbord to choose from. Happy days!

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Rather like Syria, not that that’s any comfort.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

Another example of the left eating the left. Burns has always been strongly left-leaning to the detriment of some of his documentaries, imo. He was advocating bame causes before it was as fashionable as it is today. If they can come for him they can come for anyone.

D Glover
D Glover
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Is that really the case? In his Civil War series he gave more time to Shelby Foote than any other interviewee. Foote seemed to be fairly partisan for the Confederates, or did I misunderstand?

David Uzzaman
David Uzzaman
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

Surely that was a case of giving someone enough rope to hang them-self. Shelby was a fantastic apologist for the South. He sucked you into the old lie that the War wasn’t about slavery but then cut the ground from under his own feet. It was entirely necessary to show the arguments for the Southern cause. It would have been much weaker as a documentary if it had been more one sided.

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago

I just wish more young documentary film makers, or old ones for that matter, would learn from Ken Burns’ example how to make outstanding documentaries instead of giving us the stuff they do across British TV.

Matt B
Matt B
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

Too right. At least Ken Burns focuses on the story, not vanity shots.

Last edited 1 year ago by Matt B
ralph bell
ralph bell
1 year ago

Yesterday Report: “American Families are not being torn apart” seems in direct contrast to this view of civil war being imminent. Surely this just shows how intellectuals, the media and political groups are creating a narrative that the main population are not following.