If Ken Burns ever decides to stop making documentaries, he could always go into comedy . . .On today's Morning Joe, Burns claimed he was non-political, despite repeatedly attempting to draw parallels between Prohibition, the subject of his current film, and themes in current conservatism, particularly immigration. At the same time, Burns ignored the modern-day prohibitionist sitting right across the table from him--Mika Brzezinski--the neo-Carrie Nation who would ban everything from cigarettes to soft drinks, transfats to fast food. Video after the jump.
Watch Burns strain to use Prohibition to bash conservatives, while giving a pass to the prohibitionist who was interviewing him.
KEN BURNS: It's Ecclesiastes--there's nothing new under the sun. This is the story of single-issue political campaigns, wedge-issue campaigns that metastasize with horrible, unintended consequences. Sound familiar? This is about the demonization of recent immigrants to the United States. Sound familiar? This is about the decay of civil discourse in our country and smear campaigns during presidential election cycles. Sound familiar? This is about a whole group of people who feel that they've lost control of their country and want to take it back.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Explain the immigrants that at the time that were being scape-goated.
BURNS: As always, America has this dream of itself, a small-town, agrarian, Jeffersonian vision that actually never was. As the big cities were filling at the end of the 19th-century. As they're filling up with Catholics, Jews, newly-freed African-Americans. What are you going to do?
. . .
DONNY DEUTSCH: It's fascinating how you bring up the relevance of the times. [Inaudible] onto something with Boardwalk Empire. The reason we need artists like yourself, and every time right-wing people say what's with this art?, is because it does teach us and remind us.
SCARBOROUGH: [mocking] it is right-wing people living in the Hamptons --
DEUTSCH: It's the truth. It's why left-leaning people always come down [on the side of?] the arts, and it's the right wing. And it's not pontification. There's a reason you are doing this now. There's a reason Boardwalk Empire exists. It's in the air, and it needs to remind us of the problems of absolutism.
BURNS: I'm fascinated--and you know, we don't point arrows, I'm not a political film-maker. We're just saying, this is a great story. When the Germans are vilified at the end of WWI, which is the final straw which permits us to equate beer with treason--they re-named sauerkraut Liberty Cabbage. Sound familiar? So the more things change, the more they remain the same.