U.S. markets close in 3 hours 8 minutes
  • S&P 500

    4,401.15
    +5.89 (+0.13%)
     
  • Dow 30

    34,964.44
    +28.97 (+0.08%)
     
  • Nasdaq

    14,731.87
    +59.19 (+0.40%)
     
  • Russell 2000

    2,229.95
    +3.70 (+0.17%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    71.00
    -2.95 (-3.99%)
     
  • Gold

    1,821.50
    +4.30 (+0.24%)
     
  • Silver

    25.55
    -0.00 (-0.01%)
     
  • EUR/USD

    1.1872
    -0.0003 (-0.02%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    1.1610
    -0.0780 (-6.30%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.3896
    -0.0011 (-0.08%)
     
  • USD/JPY

    109.2310
    -0.3840 (-0.35%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    39,712.00
    -1,503.51 (-3.65%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    972.11
    +11.21 (+1.17%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    7,081.72
    +49.42 (+0.70%)
     
  • Nikkei 225

    27,781.02
    +497.43 (+1.82%)
     
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

This is ‘one of the most challenging times’ in American history: Ken Burns

In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Filmmaker Ken Burns joins "Influencers with Andy Serwer' to discuss the polarization in Washington DC and overall political climate across America.

Video Transcript

- Many of your films give an authoritative account of a quintessentially American topic-- like jazz, of course, the Civil War. Is that harder to do as America has become more politically polarized, Ken?

KEN BURNS: No, not at all. And we are politically polarized on the surface, and that surface may destroy us. I mean, this is one of the most challenging times, if not the most challenging time, in American history. I don't want to undersell that. And certainly the combination of the three viruses-- COVID that's a year-plus old and the 402-year-old virus of racial injustice and white supremacy, which is having, we hope, a sustained reckoning right now, and then the age-old human virus of lying, of misinformation, of conspiracy, of paranoia. These are always there, and they bubble up to the surface.

You know, the great writer Isabel Wilkerson, in her book "Caste," talks about this, you know, anthrax that was frozen in the Siberian tundra. And then, when global warming heated it up, people started dying again. And so I think this is the metaphor for us, too.

This hatred, this suspicion of the other-- look, one way to do this, Andy, is just tell you I have been, for 45 years, making films about the US. But I've also been making films about the lowercase plural pronoun of that-- us. And what I've discovered-- you know, all of the majesty and the complexity and the contradiction and the controversy of the United States-- but all the intimacy of us is that there's only us, and there's no them.

There are a lot of people out there making lots of money on "them." And it's being exploited, you know? And the big lie is part of the combination of that. But a story is a story. Richard Powers, the novelist, said the best arguments in the world won't change a single person's mind. The only thing that can do that is a good story.

I am in the business of trying to tell stories. I hope they're good, and I speak to everyone.