Civil War Documentary Filmmaker Ken Burns Calls for Confederate Statues to Be Removed: ‘They’re an Attempt to Rewrite History’ by White Supremacists
Legendary documentary filmmaker Ken Burns said the country is “in the middle of an enormous reckoning” and endorsed the removal of statues of Confederate soldiers and the renaming of military bases because the
During a discussion with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, the director of numerous historical documentaries, including the seminal, nine-part movie Civil War, strongly came out in favor of sweeping prestigious symbols of the Confederacy from the public landscape.
“I think we’re in the middle of an enormous reckoning right now in which the anxieties and the pains and the torments of injustice are bubbling up to the surface,” Burns said. “It’s very important for people like me, of my complexion, to it be as quiet as possible and to listen. What I know from my reading of history is that the confederate monuments have to go.”
Burns then noted that much of the Confederate iconography was installed during waves of backlash to the freeing of the slaves and enfranchising of African-Americans that occurred decades after the Civil War.
“They’re an attempt to rewrite history and to essentially celebrate a false narrative about what happened during the Civil War and to send the wink-winks, the dog whistles, as we’re fond of saying today, across the generations of what the Civil War was about,” Burns explained. “It’s so interesting we’re having this having this argument because the people that we people who responsible for the deaths of — yes. These are people responsible for the deaths of the loyal American citizens.”
When Cuomo asked if some of the protestors are going to far by attacking statues of former Presidents Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Ulysses Grant, Burns acknowledged that, but pleaded for patience.
“Of course there’s a danger in going too far. It’s the passions of the moment. And let’s think about it,” Burns added. “Let’s hold off and reserve judgment for one second and consider that more than quarter of the Presidents of the United States of America, founded on the idea that all men are created equal, the guy who wrote that [Jefferson] owned 300 human beings in his lifetime, by the way. More than a quarter of the United States presidents owned other human beings. This is a huge thing that we cannot just dismiss. But I would say that the Confederate monument for me is an easy decision. We have to get rid of them. They’re not about heritage. This is a specious argument. This is about the reimposition of white supremacy in the South at various periods. The names of the bases and forts should be changed. We’ve taken down the statues. It’s a good thing to do. And we now need to continue this reckoning by looking as carefully as we can, monuments are hugely important. They’re acts of fact but also acts of mythology. They are acts of symbols.”
Watch the video above, via CNN.
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