Filmmaker Ken Burns Takes a Knee, Declares ‘We Have to Get Rid of’ Confederate Monuments


In an interview on CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time Tuesday, filmmaker Ken Burns voiced his support of the mob attacks on historical works of art depicting figures and events surrounding the Confederacy and the Civil War.

“I think we’re in the middle of an enormous reckoning right now in which the anxieties and the pains and the torments of centuries of injustice are bubbling up to the surface, It’s very important for people like me, of my complexion, to be as quiet as possible and to listen,” Burns began.

“What I know from my reading of history is that the confederate monuments have to go.”

He explained:

They were put up in the 1880s and 90s when white supremacy was being brutally re-imposed over the old Confederacy.

Again in the late teens and 20s when the Ku Klux Klan was ascendant. Again, after the Brown versus the Board of Education decision in 1954.

And so, we see that these are not monuments to history and heritage but 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 about what the Civil War was about.

It’s so interesting that we’re having this argument, because the people that we memorialize – the nation’s forts that are named after Civil War Generals – these are people who fought to perpetuate slavery, which must be an anathema to every American. And they’re also people responsible for the deaths of  loyal American citizens. That’s a travesty.

Cuomo replied that the defenders of the artwork say “they are making a play to heritage” and acknowledged the troubling extension, now, to figures such as the Founding Fathers, Abraham Lincoln, and Ulysses S. Grant.

“Is there a danger in going too far?” he asked.

Burns, becoming visibly agitated, responded, “Of course, there’s a danger in going too far. It’s the passions of the moment. And let’s just think about it for a second. Let’s just hold off and reserve judgement for one second and consider that more than a 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 owned more than 300 human beings in his lifetime, by the way – more than a quarter of the United States’ Presidents owned other human beings.”

He continued:

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.

In less than 24 hours, the interview has been seen more than 182,000 times on YouTube, and is being lauded by the left on social media platforms like Twitter, while being largely ignored by the right.

Burns’ productions are a staple of taxpayer-funded PBS. His decades-long record of documentaries focus almost exclusively on films about America’s history and traditions. Among his best-known works are “The Brooklyn Bridge” (1981), “The Statue of Liberty” (1985), “Baseball” (1994), and “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” (2009).

His most successful documentary project, a nine-episode mini-series titled “The Civil War,” debuted in 1991 and earned 13 major awards including two prime-time Emmys and a People’s Choice Award.

Ken Burns is well-known for his support of the Democrat Party – and in particular, of President Barack Obama, whom he compared to Abraham Lincoln in 2007.

In an interview with Variety in 2016, he compared Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler in response to a question about the “Access Hollywood” audio recording.

“The fact that he could say the things he said about women, and that his adoring masses are not even flinching at that, is Hitler-esque,” Burns said.

In the same interview, Variety reporter Brent Lang asked, “Do you think [Donald Trump is] a fascist?”

Burns replied, “Absolutely. When you talk about having extra-judicial, threatening rivals with jail. You can call it fascistic or you can call it dictatorial. You can call it monomaniacal or imperial. Whatever you want to say, this is not the way that our country works.”

Watch the full CNN segment:





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9 Thoughts to “Filmmaker Ken Burns Takes a Knee, Declares ‘We Have to Get Rid of’ Confederate Monuments”

  1. Ann

    In just a few minutes with his speech on CNN, Ken Burns managed to tear down the respect and appreciation I have had for this man. I have always seen Burns as a historian who shared and educated with his involvement in PBS presentations. This man was not a celebrity. He was a documentarian who brought truth and history together. How could I have been so wrong? Burns does not want to record history but rather interpret
    history as he sees fit. My heart bleeds for the deception thrown at PBS.
    Sadly PBS will pay for their affiliation with a fake.

  2. Chris Mallory

    Burns is nothing but a rootless vagabond born in NYC. I can understand why he has no connection to his people or his land. But he is not a son of the South and has no say in who we commemorate.

  3. jj

    Ken Burns = sanctimonious jerk

  4. Pissed Off Nashvillian

    “Defund Ken Burns “


      easily done. no more pbs donation

  5. 83ragtop50

    I had idea who this man was but I sure know now.

    Ironic. He feeds at the public PBS trough and slams the very source of his livelihood. He can crawl back under his “safe space” rock now.

  6. AJ

    What Yankees never seem to stop and realize, is that if you’re for the ‘taking down’ of Confederate monuments on the grounds that they’re inherently ‘racist,’ then they are going to have to be, on the same grounds, for ‘taking down’ all monuments that depict the people who conceived the country. Then, and eventually, the country itself has to be ‘taken down’. Then, and eventually, white people have to be ‘taken down’ because we too are inherently ‘racist.’

    The anrcho-communists systematically dismantling our country right now are after Confederate monuments FIRST because they’re the lowest hanging fruit and Southerners are several generations into their self-loathing training and most won’t do a damn thing about it, half even think it’s great.

    But if you think this all ends with taking down Confederate monuments, you’ve got another and very serious thing coming, because these BLM communists want you dead. They’d dig you up and kill you again if they could, then p!ss on you. They are pure and absolute evil.

    Wake up!

  7. Russ Crouch

    I have always enjoyed Ken Burns work. He has managed to erase it all with this stance.

  8. rick

    No more Ken Burns, POS !!