'Trump is Hitler' rears its ugly head again

Ken Burns admits that his new PBS documentary on America's response to the Holocaust, which was originally planned to be released in 2023, was deliberately moved up to this year because of the threat to democracy posed by Donald Trump and his supporters.  As such, the cost of the documentary and the money spent by PBS on it should be considered an in-kind contribution to the Democrat party.

Burns is almost universally lauded for his previous documentary films on the Civil War, World War II, baseball, the Roosevelts, and the Vietnam War, all of which, with the exception of The Civil War, were tainted by Burns's overt leftism.  Burns has not felt the urge to make documentary films about Lenin's War Communism; Joseph Stalin's state-created famine, Great Terror, and Gulag; or Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward or Cultural Revolution, or the hell that was Fidel Castro's Cuba.  For leftists like Burns, there is no enemy to the left.  All the enemies are on the right.  Now Burns has timed the release of his Holocaust film to affect the 2022 midterm elections here in America, as well as elections abroad that may result in victories for nationalist-populist leaders in Italy, Brazil, and elsewhere.  The danger, according to Burns, is not just in America: "I am also talking about Britain.  I am also talking about the rise of the right in France.  I'm talking about Viktor Orban in Hungary, Bolsonaro in Brazil and a tendency."  

Burns recently told the left-wing Guardian that "the story of the Holocaust reminds us of the fragility of democracies."  Burns warned that history often "rhymes," and as he worked on the film, "it became increasingly clear with a great deal of anxiety and urgency just how much nearly every sentence was rhyming.  The conservatives that installed Adolf Hitler were certain they could control him; in a few months they were either dead or completely marginalized.  It is a telling story: he wished to make Germany great again."

The reference to Hitler wanting to make Germany "great again" is an unmistakable comparison of Trump to Hitler.  Burns blames the isolationists of the "America First" Committee for America's refusal to rescue European Jews attempting to flee Hitler's Germany, yet it was Democrat president Franklin Roosevelt and a Democrat-controlled Congress in power in the late 1930s and early 1940s.  They had the power to rescue the Jews, and they didn't.  Burns attempts to deflect blame from FDR: America's refusal to fulfill even the meager quotas established for taking in Jewish refugees was "not entirely on Franklin Roosevelt," he says.  "That's on Congress and the people of the United States who consistently voted against it, even when the horrors were revealed."  Burns told Time magazine that congressional quotas "did not permit Franklin Roosevelt to let in more people."

But Franklin Roosevelt was at best indifferent to the plight of Europe's Jews.  No, Ken, America's tragically inadequate response to Jewish suffering is on FDR and a Democrat Congress.  Period.

Burns said he accelerated the production of the film because "I felt the urgency that we needed to be part of a conversation."  In other words, he wanted to affect the outcome of the 2022 midterm elections, where Republicans are expected to gain control of the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate.  Apparently, if that happens in an election, Burns will consider it a threat to democracy.

Burns in a CNN interview compared Florida governor Ron DeSantis's transporting illegal aliens to Martha's Vineyard to the Holocaust: "It's coming straight out of the authoritarian playbook."  Burns did not mention the Biden administration's previous transportation of illegal aliens to many places throughout the United States.  

Burns told Time that Holocaust-deniers have "been given space and room to grow by a person who used to occupy the highest office in the land" — i.e., Trump.  And the return of the America First movement in the United States, Burns said, carries echoes of the 1930s and 1940s.  And Burns ends the film about the Holocaust with the Charlottesville "Unite the Right Rally" in 2017 and the "January 6, 2021, storming of the Capitol."  That is Burns's contribution to the "conversation."

The message couldn't be clearer: if Donald Trump and his political allies gain power again, the United States will go the way of Hitler's Germany.  Burns is not the first public figure to use the Holocaust for political purposes, but that doesn't make it any less shameful. 

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

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