Skip to comments.Filmmaker Ken Burns Criticizes Bush At Yale As President Arrives For Daughter's Party
Posted on 05/24/2004 7:06:22 AM PDT by Puppage
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- With presidential security helicopters circling over the Yale University campus, filmmaker Ken Burns denounced the war in Iraq on Sunday and told graduating seniors to remember history as they work to repair divides in American culture.
President Bush came to the campus for a private reception with his daughter, Barbara, who graduates from Yale on Monday. Bush did not hold any public events, and Barbara skipped Sunday's baccalaureate services and the day-before-graduation senior Class Day festivities where Burns spoke.
While Bush was not in public view, his presidency was a hot topic of rhetoric at Class Day.
Without mentioning Bush by name, Burns drew parallels between today's political leaders and the Iraq war, versus Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, which he chronicled in an award-winning film series.
Both wars threatened to tear the country apart, Burns said.
"Steel yourselves. Your generation must repair this damage, and it will not be easy," Burns told the seniors.
Burns quoted famed jurist Learned Hand as saying, "Liberty is never being too sure you're right."
"Somehow recently, though, we have replaced our usual and healthy doubt with an arrogance and belligerence that resembles more the ancient and now fallen empires of our history books than a modern compassionate democracy," Burns said, to applause from the 1,300 graduates and their families and friends.
He criticized what he called a culture of censorship and intimidation that was intolerant of others, as well as a compliant media and a consumer culture that values the pursuit of money above everything.
"We have begun to reduce the complexities of modern life into the facile judgments of good and evil, and now find ourselves brought up short when we see that we have, too, some times and moments, become what we despise," Burns said.
Burns noted that it is tempting in such times to turn inward and ignore outside troubles, but he urged the seniors to reject that impulse and study history as a way to cope with these troubles and to figure out what to do about them.
"If you don't know where you've been, how can you possibly know who you are and where you're going?" Burns asked.
Students also poked fun at Bush, who spoke at Yale's 300th commencement in 2001.
The president earned a history degree from Yale in 1968, earning what was politely called "gentlemen's C's."
Bush told the class of 2001: "To the C-students, I say, you too can be president of the United States".
In seniors' spoof of the class of 2004's history Sunday, they recalled the quote as: "To all the C-students out there, I'd like to say, you too can be president -- if your dad was president."
Burns' daughter, Sarah, is among the studens graduating Monday.
The class of 2004 chose Burns as its speaker in part because it wanted to avoid the politically divisive reaction of students to recent past speakers, including Bush, U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and New York Gov. George Pataki.
Senior Thomas Collier of Louisville, Ky., said it was ironic that Burns' speech ended up being so political.
"I thought his speech might have been a bit more passionate and controversial than others might have been," said Collier, a political science major.
Barbara Bush, who is earning a humanities degree, was not at the event. She traveled with her family aboard Air Force One from Texas, where her twin sister, Jenna, graduated Saturday from the University of Texas.
The president and his family stayed a while at Yale President Richard Levin's house, which is next door to the house where Bush lived as an infant.
Bush was born in New Haven while his father, former President Bush, was a student at Yale.
The president then traveled to the home of Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead for a private dinner.
As he traveled around New Haven, the president appeared to be suffering no ill effects from a fall from a mountain bike Saturday other than visible minor abrasions and scratches on his chin, upper lip, nose and right hand. He also had minor abrasions and scratches to both knees, the White House said.
The president left Tweed-New Haven Airport in New Haven aboard Air Force One shortly before 7 p.m. First lady Laura Bush was expected to stay at Yale through Tuesday.
About 50 protesters gathered at Levin's home Sunday afternoon. They denounced the president and the war in Iraq, while holding signs saying "Uproot Bush" and "Resist This Endless War."
The crowd was a mix of students and older Yale graduates.
Anne Tyler Calabresi, 69, of Woodbridge, said she was protesting on behalf of herself and her husband, 2nd Circuit Judge Guido Calabresi, a Yale graduate and former dean of the Yale School of Law.
"I'm profoundly worried about the way this country is going," she said. "And I'm furious about the lies George Bush has told to us again and again. He has led us into a war that is destroying our reputation around the world and creating implacable enemies around the world that we didn't have one year ago."
Yeah? Name ONE. Give me an example, show me proof you whimp of a woman.
Man... I'd hate to face a judge named Guido.
Okay, how about this time (unlike during Vietnam) we act swiftly and decisvely to incarcerate or deport the creeps who support the enemy?
For a man who has made a tidy profit documenting wars, Burns should relish the chance for another one of his insomniac specials.
This from a man who got rich and famous by telling the story of the Civil War. Traitors everywhere....
...of being weak and most interested in being liked rather than asserting our Superpower responsibility for the good of humanity.
Too bad, clinton is gone burns.
It must be something in the water - upholding Lincoln as the paragon of virtue in time of war.
How can she live 69 years and still be so stupid? These "enemies" were there one year ago, just silent because x42 was ignoring their terrorism. When we finally had enough and stood up to them, suddenly WE'RE the problem? Geeeeeeesh
How is it that Burns takes no responsibility for the failures of government intrusion over the past 40 years?
The responsible are not responsible.
The not-responsible are responsible.
Therefore, all life and personal decisions should be made by the not-responsible for the responsible.
However, if anything goes wrong, please remember that they are not responsible.
What MOO-larkey...America's RIGHT to Liberate Iraq...MUD
Whoaaaa....! That is HEAVY!
Steven Wright said he was going to do a documentary on Ken Burns.
There is a class of "historians" (term used loosely) that are making a tidy profit off bread and circuses.
I wonder how Burns feels knowing that the only reason his daughter got into Yale in the first place is because of his name and as a result, some minority affirmative action candidate was turned down at Yale and had to go to Princeton instead.
Ignoring outside troubles? Bush is the leader on the "War on Terror". He is the only one courageous enough to fight this head on.
Bobby Goldsboro called, he wants his hair back.
Anne Tyler Calabresi seems to be a perfect example of one in denial. People like her are simply unable to understand that there are people out there who want to bring about our destruction. It's not even a possibility to them. Therefore, via Calabresi/lib logic (forgive oxymoron), it must be a lie.
LOL! I'm die'n over here.LOL
Sounds like a lecture from "Cliche 101"
All of Burns stuff is highly left wing, including the Civil War. Like the entire artsy fartsy PBS/NPR/NEA crowd, this man is a menace to culture not an manifestaion of it.
The Calabresis will be worm food shortly. The moonbeam generation will not be missed or mourned. What a bunch of immature crackpots, perfect poster children for the druggy generation!
I don't know about you, but I'm getting a little tired of that quote. It's assuming a place beside "Love means never having to say you're sorry." But I really love the liberty to we have to act, in spite of not being sure we're right. But the trial lawyers will have that under control soon enough, no doubt.
14 months in Iraq and this is an endless war? The war on terrorism will go on for many years to come ... these idiots need to see images of 9-11 again, to refresh their memories. Interesting how the media has buried these images.
"Bobby Goldsboro called, he wants his hair back."
ROTFLMAO! Isn't that the truth?
I own Burn's famous series about the Civil War. Its very good.
I've noticed a curious "pattern" among historians, or those that purport to be historians. They always seem to be oblivious to "current events". Perhaps they just can't deal with anything rationally that occurs while they are in fact alive to witness it.
At any rate, I'm coming to the conclusion that the far lefts continued inappropriate use of "forums" such as commencement addresses is doing them far more harm than they realize.
This past weekend it happened again at Hofstra, from what I've read this morning.
"...how about this time (unlike during Vietnam) we act swiftly and decisvely to incarcerate or deport the creeps who support the enemy?"
A repeat of the 60's 'America - love it or leave it'. Reverting to a Vietnam era expression to say we shouldn't repeat the mistakes of that era is not very convincing. Just who are the 'creeps' we should be rounding up?
Is that the same Ken Burns who is living on the taxpayer dole at PBS? Sheesh, he should try to get a real job.
So much brain power, yet so little intelligence
No doubt that Ken Burns and staff are left wing. However, I put that aside when making the decision to purchase his baseball documentary. What a great series!
Gee, I'm glad Guido isn't one of those partisan political judges that Bush is always nominating.
I live in Brooklyn...don't get me started about basball.
His baseball one was a travesty. It seems that baseball was nothing more than the reserve clause and the color barrier.
Burn's "so-called" documentary of the Civil War was like Michael Moore's documentary of Columbine!
This is why I ceased giving to my alma mater, Penn State, some years ago. I refuse to support higher education when scenarios of this sort routinely go on all over the country.
Hee hee hee...an amish man called. He wants HIS hair back!
Sure sounds like an apt desciption of the modern liberal ... do these guys even listen to what they read?
Sadly, the images of 9/11 didn't take and have no effect on liberals. They will have to be hit where it hurts them personally.....maybe one of their ivory towers, before they wake up. Of course were that to happen they would blame it on Bush for "stirring up" the terrorists.
"Liberty is never being too sure you're right."
Truth sets you free, not uncertainty.
And if you don't know the stupidity of your own platitudes, how can you possibly know what a fool you are? I ask.
Ken Burns- the Donald Trump of PBS. I am still working on unraveling the well over 100 factual errors in the ten hour documentary 'Baseball' - averages to about one for every 6 minutes.
What a documentary filmmaker!
Yeah, and this from a man whose generation threw out all vestiges of their American Heritage and refuse to learn from history.
Kenny's just lining up backers for his next 327 hour long film "The Quagmire that was Iraq."
Ken Burns is a lightweight video splicer. Anybody could dissect his work and find countless "lies" he has perpetuated on the American people.
K. Burns: "We have begun to reduce the complexities of modern life into the facile judgments of good and evil..."
Complexities of modern life:
Mein Kampf...The Communist Manifesto...Endless jihads of the Muslim Brotherhood...Dec. 7, 1941...Sept. 11 2001...
Mr. Burns, our judgments of good and evil DO come easily.
You have somewhere lost along your way of infinite scholarship your God-given, innate sense which enabled your ancestors to survive and make your life possible.
Your speech was made possible by the service and sacrifices of men and women whose book consumption will never approach the level of yours - but who have not extinguished within themselves the flame of survival that you, yourself, treat so casually - so shabbilly.
He just tip toes through the tulips as he hummmmmms along.
Apparently Burns is much more concerned with reputation than will deterring another 9/11.
-"We have begun to reduce the complexities of modern life into the facile judgments of good and evil, and now find ourselves brought up short when we see that we have, too, some times and moments, become what we despise," Burns said."-
Um...Ken...history is FULL of good vs. evil, either in thought or action - methinks your facile statement is lacking in historical context.
That's funny stuff. He's the one that is intimidating and intolerant of others. And the media's been compliant? LOL!
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