Ken Burns says US is experiencing its fourth 'great crisis'
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Documentarian Ken Burns said that the U.S. is in the midst of the fourth “great crisis” in its history as President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new tranche of endorsements DeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food MORE prepares to leave the White House.

"We're beset by three viruses, are we not?" Burns said on NPR, citing "a year-old COVID-19 virus, but also a 402-year-old virus of white supremacy, of racial injustice. ... And we've got an age-old human virus of misinformation, of paranoia, of conspiracies."

Those three factors, he said, have contributed to the U.S.’s fourth major crisis, following the Civil War, the Great Depression and World War II.


Burns went on to outline what he believed were reasons for optimism.

“We're beginning to have a racial reckoning. More people voted than ever before. ... Poll workers defied the coronavirus, voters defied the coronavirus and held the safest and most accurate vote in our history. Courts upheld every challenge to that,” he told NPR. “We have a woman as a vice president — we have a woman of color as a vice president — this is a time not for rejoicing, but to remember that in order to gather strength to deal with these dark moments, we have to actually remember to let in the light that is right in front of us.”

The filmmaker behind “The Civil War” last year expressed support for the push to remove Confederate monuments, noting that the vast majority were erected during periods of white backlash such as Reconstruction or the Civil Rights era.

“They’re an attempt to rewrite history and to essentially celebrate a false narrative about what happened during the Civil War and to send the wink-winks, the dog whistles, as we are fond of saying today, across the generations about what the Civil War was about,” he told CNN’s Chris CuomoChris CuomoAs Trump steps back in the spotlight, will Cuomo exit stage left? The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - FBI director testifies on Jan. 6 Capitol attack Chris Cuomo criticized for hypocrisy after he says he won't cover brother's controversy MORE in June.