PBS Star Ken Burns: Trump Playbook from 'National Socialist Party in Germany'

October 22nd, 2016 1:23 PM

Josh Feldman at Mediaite pointed out that star PBS filmmaker Ken Burns is out on cable television ranting the liberal line again. The program was Amanpour on CNN International after the debate on Thursday. Christiane Amanpour, his fellow Obama enthusiast, was interviewing him about his latest PBS documentary on saving Jews from the Nazis, which they both naturally thought offered Republican parallels.

First, they freaked out about Trump refusing to concede defeat 20 days before the voting ends and before anyone knows who won:

AMANPOUR: What do you make first and foremost of the major Republican candidate refusing to accept the legitimacy of the process even before the vote is  cast?

BURNS: It's unprecedented. I don't recognize my country anymore. This is so terrifying. I think this is an existential moment for the United States of America. I think this is the greatest threat since the Cuban missile crisis and the Second World War for how we're going to be. And what kind of people we want to be and what kind of constitution we want to adhere to. We've been unprecedented in the world in that we've had 216 years of the smooth transition of power. And he is implying that no matter what happens, it's not going to be that way. And that's -- that's just unprecedented.

Then Amanpour turned to a column by Max Boot -- who has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president -- in the Los Angeles Times on the "Nazi echoes in Trump's tweets":

AMANPOUR: We want to talk obviously about your film, Defying the Nazis: The Sharps' War, which is about World War II. But I want to ask you about something that a conservative, a Republican has written in the L.A. Times, about this myth of rigging, the myth of losing that Donald Trump has been putting around. He said "it's very dangerous and reprehensible. He's creating his own version of the stabbed in the back myth. Propagated by German rightists after World War I, who claim that the German army had not really lost that war. It had been betrayed by Jews and Marxists." Is history sort of repeating itself in this victimhood myth?

BURNS: It is. It's a very effective political tool in the short run. And they are playing -- the Trump campaign is taking a play, their playbook is out of the National Socialist party in Germany. In every regard, the dog whistles of race and immigration. Hitler said let's make Germany great again. I mean, you have all of the simplistic messaging without anything to back it up and certainly no qualifications. That makes it so dangerous.

And the fact that he's been able to promote himself so well. Manipulated media so that he's had three-plus billion dollars of free media over the  course of the last year plus is a kind of terrifying thing that there might be something mechanically endemic to all of us that permits this to rise. 

And our real work begins on November 9th. The only way you can save the country in the long-term, and not keep this sort of large dissatisfied  group of people who have been manipulated, is to take the air out of their tires. To say -- look, we can get things done here. And just let's settle  down because the democratic way is the only way to do it, as messy and as complicated as it is.

AMANPOUR: You mean democratic with a small D?

BURNS: With a small D. That is compromise. And all of the things that we have not been doing lately. That will take the wind out of the sails of this terrifying movement, which Trump has, has decided to lead and plans to go beyond it. Rigging the election is the biggest canard I have ever heard.

This is always rich coming from PBS, the network that refuses to compromise and put real conservatives on their airwaves. We're left with non-debates with deferential pseudo-conservatives like David Brooks, Michael Gerson, and maybe soon Max Boot. Then Burns turned to the film, and how "the United States" or the "State Department" -- not "Franklin Roosevelt and the Democrats" -- were anti-Semites:

AMANPOUR: Describe for us, remind us the terrible way the United States and the West behaved to Jews trying to escape Hitler before the  concentration camps.

BURNS: We had essentially a State Department that was rife with anti- Semites. We had quotas that permitted small numbers of refugees on the eve of the Second World War and during it, that made it impossible for us to be  a mitigating factor in relieving a refugee crisis, that's only slightly greater than the refugee crisis we're having now.

And what we've added to the mix here is a very public and overt racism that says, look, we don't want these kinds of people. And German immigrants in the United States should understand that happened to them. Irish immigrants should understand that had happened to them. Chinese and Japanese immigrants that happened to them at a different time. And now we're sort of saying because there is a Muslim terrorist somewhere, that we  have to completely block the door to all the Muslims.  That would be like white people having to take responsibility for the actions of Dylann Roof, who is the young man who assassinated,  murdered the churchgoers in Charleston a year and a half ago. That would be, let's be careful about white people now. That has the same logic.