Quote Of The Day: Ken Burns Edition

I suspect y’all have heard about Ken Burns’ appearance on Face The Nation and his stirring comments about the cause of the Civil War. But it can’t be repeated often enough as far as I’m concerned:

You know, we’ve grown up as country with a lot of powerful symbols of the Civil War in popular culture that would be ‘Birth of a Nation,’ D.W. Griffiths’ classic, and ‘Gone with the Wind,’ of course,” And in that, it postulates, among other things, both films, that the Ku Klux Klan, which is a homegrown terrorist organization, was actually a heroic force in the story of the Civil War. So it’s no wonder that Americans have permitted themselves to be sold a bill of goods about what happened, oh, it’s about states’ rights, it’s about nullification, it’s about differences between cultural and political and economic forces that shaped the North and the South…

But we also notice that race is always there. Always there. When Thomas Jefferson says all men are created equal, he owns a couple hundred human beings and he doesn’t see the contradiction or the hypocrisy and doesn’t free anybody in his lifetime and sets in motion an American narrative that is bedeviled by a question of race. And we struggle with it. We try to ignore it. We pretend, with the election of Barack Obama, that we’re in some post-racial society,” he continued. “And what we have seen is a kind of reaction to this. The birther movement, of which Donald Trump is one of the authors of, is another politer way of saying the N word. It’s just more sophisticated and a little bit more clever. He’s ‘other,’ he’s different. What’s actually ‘other’ and different about him? It turns out it’s the same old thing. It’s the color of his skin.”

What the hell does this Yankee know about it? So what if he made the definitive documentary about that conflict. Some peckerwood in a racist t-shirt knows better…

Burns’ remarks almost make me forgive him for the whole “Wynton Marsalis saved Jazz” thing in another film. I’m still tetchy, however, about the Yankees-BoSox centric approach of his baseball documentary.

Enough already. I came to praise Ken Burns, not bury him. Well done, sir.

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