Ken Burns has finally emerged following Donald Trump's election victory. It took over a month for that to happen since as Burns described, he "needed some time in the fetal position." Well now that the shock is starting to wear off, an interesting phenomenon has taken place which was noted by Dilbert cartoon creator, Scott Adams: the rapid evaporation of hallucinations of Trump as Hitler previously held by Burns and others.
First let us review an overlong November 11 open letter to Ken Burns by a fearful Stanford graduate, Nathalie Weiss, worried about the impending Trumpocalypse. Since she obviously didn't learn about the need for brevity in writing during her student years, I shall endeavor to cut out most of Nathalie's meaningless self-obsessions as reprinted in the Washington Post:
Dear Mr. Burns,
In light of this election and its outcome, my thoughts continue to circle back to the speech you delivered to my graduating class at Stanford this June. You probably don’t remember me...
Probably because you just aren't that important despite what you think which explains the need to cut out most of your incessant narcissism...
...you implored us to examine history in order to warn about the perilous consequences at stake in this election.
...You warned about Donald Trump and how his candidacy confronted our nation with a “ferocious urgency.”
...But what now? What do we do with this divided nation of ours that, just a few days ago, stated that our chosen leader will be a man with no political experience, whose rhetoric is laced with sexist, racist, homophobic and isolationist principles (among others)? I’m offended. I’m pissed off. I’m grief-stricken. I’m terrified. I’m confused. I’m still American. So, what now? What do I — what do we — do?
...Thank you, Mr. Burns, for speaking at Stanford’s commencement and for stripping down ceremonial gaieties in order to address the student body with candor, believing that we would not just listen but that we would act. I will not be helpless. I will not be silenced. I will not forget. I will be for our nation and its citizens. But I am still processing. Still hurting. Still learning.
I did not listen then, but I implore you now — what do I do?
With the deepest respect and gratitude,
— Nathalie Weiss ’16
Help us! More importantly, help me! Well, before we get to Ken Burns' reply, let us review just how far over the edge he was starting with this video of his anti-Trump rant disguised as a commencement address at Stanford last June.
For 216 years, our elections, though bitterly contested, have featured the philosophies and character of candidates who were clearly qualified. That is not the case this year. One is glaringly not qualified. So before you do anything with your well-earned degree, you must do everything you can to defeat the retrograde forces that have invaded our democratic process, divided our house, to fight against, no matter your political persuasion, the dictatorial tendencies of the candidate with zero experience in the much maligned but subtle art of governance; who is against lots of things, but doesn’t seem to be for anything, offering only bombastic and contradictory promises, and terrifying Orwellian statements.
...As a student of history, I recognize this type. He emerges everywhere and in all eras. We see nurtured in his campaign an incipient proto-fascism, a nativist anti-immigrant Know Nothing-ism, a disrespect for the judiciary, the prospect of women losing authority over their own bodies, African Americans again asked to go to the back of the line, voter suppression gleefully promoted, jingoistic saber rattling, a total lack of historical awareness, a political paranoia that, predictably, points fingers, always making the other wrong.
Burns continued his rather unsubtle comparison of Trump with You-Know-Who three months later in September during a CNBC interview with Carl Quintanilla:
KEN BURNS: Never in the history of the republic, for 216 years of real contested elections...that never have we had somebody so manifestly unqualified to do the job.
CARL QUINTANILLA: So there is no historical antecedent in this country?
BURNS: There are antecedents other places which you don't really want to contemplate.
So did Ken Burns remain as completely unhinged following the election? Not really as you can see in his December 12 reply to the brevity-challenged letter of Ms Weiss:
Please forgive the amount of time it’s taken for me to respond to your heartfelt and anguished letter. I guess I too have been suffering from the unexpected turn of events, I too needed some time in the fetal position, covers pulled up to my chin, as I tried myself to come to terms with an election that seems to have undermined so much of the progress we’ve made in the last fifty years — on race, women’s rights, the environment, diversity and understanding our role in the world.
Did you make a video of your election reaction, Ken? Hours under the covers in fetal position could be funny if you time lapse it.
But I hear in your anguish a call to action that ought to awaken anyone — including myself — who misread this election. We need to be thoughtful in that action. Blind, angry protest will not help; it will only strengthen those who do not share our worldview. Passivity — as we have both discovered — is also not an option.
We must choose a middle ground: engagement. But the engagement we seek must understand that those people who did not vote as we did are not our enemy. In fact, true engagement is walking into the heart of that constituency, offering shared stories and real solutions rather than narratives that are calculated to divide, offering fellowship and unity, where fake news has helped stoke tribal angers.
Fake news such as the revelation of yet another hate crime hoax? But I digress. Back to you, Ken...
We must understand too that we have also been betrayed by the so-called “mainstream media,” who fawned for months over the clearly unqualified candidate, giving him billions of dollars of free media, betrayed by cynical executives more interested in a buck than the facts of the matter, and betrayed by the lazy paid pundits more interested in protecting their own “brands” than in the well-being of the Republic they pretend to serve.
The "mainstream media" fawned for months over Trump? One has to wonder what alternate universe Burns is writing from in light of overwhelming MSM support for Hillary Clinton. Although Burns seems to be shedding some of his fantasies, others seem harder to discard even when in outright contravention of the facts.
What to do, you ask? A million things, of course. But it begins only with the first step of awareness and commitment, which you have already made.
Just go forward. Engage. Don’t despair. Find likeminded people — not from your social circle, but everywhere. Change the opinions of others, not with ridicule, but reason. Finally, remember too that Barack Obama himself has said that the highest office in the land is not president, but citizen.
With my sincerest best wishes,
Okay, even though Burns suffered a bit of a relapse of his Trump Derangement Syndrome, at least he isn't as far gone as he was a few months ago. This could be a combination of what Scott Adams wrote about the hallucinations of Third Reich Trump lifting and facing the reality that it makes poor business sense to alienate half the audiences for his PBS documentaries especially since he depends on taxpayer support.
Exit question: Will Ken Burns send a postcard to Nathalie Weiss from Trump Tower if he meets there with the person whose name was too painful for him to even utter a few months ago?