Documentarian Ken Burns Devotes His Stanford Commencement Address To Deconstructing Trump

The world of politics in 2016 is one that only the most ardent of observers could have predicted. We have been left with a veritable postmodern hellscape, pocked with the rise of Trump and fueled by stoking the fires of resentment and fear, while a political insider looks to be the only hope at maintaining control. It can truly be maddening to consider both sides. On the left, there’s one candidate with a pending criminal investigation thanks to her political history. On the right, there’s a man with no political history, who is seemingly building bonfires built on xenophobia and laughing as the world burns.

Heralded documentary filmmaker Ken Burns sees a need to save the world from Donald Trump, reports BuzzFeed. At least that’s what we can glean from his commencement address that he delivered at Stanford University on Sunday. The entire speech deserves a careful viewing, regardless of which side you of the political aisle find yourself on, with Burns focusing most of his attention on the man that he considers under-qualified in Donald Trump.

“So before you do anything with your well-earned degree, you must do everything you can to defeat the retrograde forces that have invaded our democratic process, divided our house, to fight against, no matter your political persuasion, the dictatorial tendencies of the candidate with zero experience in the much maligned but subtle art of governance; who is against lots of things, but doesn’t seem to be for anything, offering only bombastic and contradictory promises, and terrifying Orwellian statements; a person who easily lies, creating an environment where the truth doesn’t seem to matter; who has never demonstrated any interest in anyone or anything but himself and his own enrichment; who insults veterans, threatens a free press, mocks the handicapped, denigrates women, immigrants and all Muslims; a man who took more than a day to remember to disavow a supporter who advocates white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan; an infantile, bullying man who, depending on his mood, is willing to discard old and established alliances, treaties and long-standing relationships.

I feel genuine sorrow for the understandably scared and—they feel—powerless people who have flocked to his campaign in the mistaken belief that—as often happens on TV—a wand can be waved and every complicated problem can be solved with the simplest of solutions. They can’t. It is a political Ponzi scheme. And asking this man to assume the highest office in the land would be like asking a newly minted car driver to fly a 747.”

There’s a lot to digest in Burns’ words, but he also calls out the media and how they bear some of the responsibility in the rise of Trump. “We no longer have the luxury of neutrality or ‘balance,’ or even of bemused disdain,” he explained to the audience. “Many of our media institutions have largely failed to expose this charlatan, torn between a nagging responsibility to good journalism and the big ratings a media circus always delivers.”

Check out the full video for his absolutely scathing dissection of Trump. One thing is for sure; this is perhaps one of the most impassioned commencement speeches we’ve heard in a long time, focusing on the world and an actual current event more than trying to rally graduates to simply “be great.” Burns is urging people to do great, which is something that college graduates probably need to hear.

(Via BuzzFeed)