Historian Ken Burns: US is in a crisis at the level of Civil War, the Depression, and World War II

Historian and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns believes that present-day America is living through one of the worst times in its history.

Burns made the remark while on the “SmartLess” podcast, hosted by Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Sean Hayescomparing current events with the Civil War, the Great Depression, and World War II.

“It’s really serious. There are three great crises before this: the Civil War, the Depression, and World War II. This is equal to it,” he said on Monday’s episode when asked about the direction the United States was headed.

He went on to quote part of a speech that a young Abraham Lincoln delivered in January 1838 to a group in Springfield, Illinois:

From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some trans-Atlantic military giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we will live forever or die by suicide.


“We’re looking right down the muzzle of that gun,” Burns added.

Naturally, he fails to remember that Joe Biden is president, preferring instead to scapegoat former President Trump, a tactic pulled straight from the leftist playbook.

In a January 2021 piece in Politico, Burns wrote that America was living through its “fourth” great crisis. Naturally, he swooned over Franklin Roosevelt in his writing as the embodiment of a true American president in his comparison to Trump.

He wrote of Roosevelt: “He had come a long way — and would go further. He would expertly manage two of the four greatest crises in American history, the Depression and the Second World War (Lincoln, the president just beginning to emerge on Mount Rushmore when FDR visited in 1936, had handled the worst, the Civil War).”

Speaking with Variety in 2018, Burns was asked about the prospect of making a documentary about Donald Trump, to which he replied, “I would like to try to figure out what all of this meant, coming on the heels of Barack Obama, these major steps backwards that we’ve taken,” Burns said, “and try to understand what it was in the air that made us make these kinds of choices and who he was, and what his motivations were.”

He must not remember how Obama polarized the country based on race and pitted citizen against citizen for political gains.

At the time, he said the United States was experiencing a “great existential crisis,” a phrase so overused by the left and applied to everything from climate change to alleged white supremacy that it no longer carries any meaning whatsoever. But if it does have meaning, one could easily argue that President Joe Biden is this nation’s greatest existential threat.

The Washington Post quoted Burns in 2016 after the presidential election as having said, “I suddenly found myself the optimistic Frodo in Mordor.”

Speaking with the Daily Beast in 2019, Burns said, “We live in a binary media culture that’s interested in accentuating differences between the ‘other.’”

Truer words may never have been said, but not in the way Burns means. He means conservatives, not his beloved party of “unity.”

In typical left-wing fashion, the elephant in the room is always ignored for the furtherance of projection onto the “other,” as he puts it. If Burns thinks we are currently living through the worst period in our history, he might want to examine his own voting record.


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Frank Webster


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