This morning we handed out flyers on Kellogg Boulevard in St. Paul. We encountered very few who knew why it is called that. Frank Kellogg was a hero in the sense that a whistleblower is a hero. He was a Secretary of State who had nothing but contempt for peace activism, until peace activism became too powerful, too mainstream, too irresistible.
From what I’ve seen of Ken Burns, his MO is propaganda. He takes historical/pop culture subjects we all know something about and produces what I suppose are documentaries, but not in the sense that they are designed to educate, but rather 1) to mark his particular mode of thought about the subject as the official one and the one representing US culture at large and 2) to establish heroes in that domain, thereby also representing them as not just a standard with respect to music, baseball, etc, but also as a moral standard.
We wind up with something like Magritte’s “Ceci n’est pas une pipe,” where what we know is no longer the original subject, but merely Burns re-representation of it. He might not be selling us fascism or some other subjugating ideology, but it is dangerous nonetheless.
And speaking of music, Burns is quite effective in his use of musical scores to enthrall the viewer with evocative patriotic cues for emotional flag-waving. “Oh, yes, we’ve been naughty people at times, but really, this banjo-plucking bit here tells you how deeply regretful we are about our historical transgressions…”
I have met Ken Burns and he impresses me with his skills as a film maker, albeit one who realizes that his audience can only absorb so much truth. His films should provoke a desire in all of us to dig for the truth in American (US) history; Howard Zinn is a good primer. We must rise up and capture the country and government our Constitution gives us. We must take the guidance of our Declaration of Independence to find the strength to be truly free people. Slavery will always exist in a world of people who tolerate it.
It’s nice to see someone speak out against war from time to time.
I agree! We must all speak out against it, and never stop until war stops. War exacerbates all of our other problems, and is a major factor in many of them! Plus it is just plain wrong, except in a purely defensive context.
Spot on, Uncle.