Ken Burns Equates Birther Movement with ‘Saying the N-Word’


On CBS’s Face the Nation, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns — most famous for his 1990 television miniseries, The Civil War — had some rather harsh but prescient things to say about the birther movement Donald Trump has inadvertently became associated with.

“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. Of course we’re not!” Burns told host John Dickerson. “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, a little bit more clever. He’s ‘other,’ he’s different.”

Whether or not Trump actually believed (or believes) Obama wasn’t born in the United States is irrelevant, and Burns falsely connects the two via authorship. Yes, he talked a lot about birthers, Obama’s birth certificate and giving money to charity over the matter, but that’s not the point. What is important here is what Burns has to say about birthers in relation to good ol’ fashioned, pre-Civil War era racism.

After all, as the filmmaker points out earlier in the interview, South Carolina’s decision to become the first southern state to secede from the Union had nothing to do with “states’ rights.” In the state’s official articles of secession, written up in response to Abraham Lincoln‘s election, all that’s mentioned is “slavery, slavery, slavery.”

That’s definitely something to keep in mind just before you decide to hang that Confederate flag you’re so proud of.

Check out the clip below, courtesy of CBS:

[h/t Salon]
[Image via screengrab]

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