Documentarian Ken Burns: Trump is Hitler, certainly not Christian

by Gregory Tomlin |

(REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage)Filmmaker Ken Burns speaks at the Stanford University commencement ceremony in Palo Alto, Calif., June 12, 2016. Burns said in the address that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was "infantile," a "charlatan" and unfit to be president.

NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – Donald Trump is Adolf Hitler, clearly not a Christian, and "lusts after his own daughter," award-winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns has charged in an explosive interview in the Daily Beast.

The director of The Civil War, Prohibition, The War and The Roosevelts, among numerous other documentaries, lit into the New York billionaire while discussing race in America. He said Trump was guilty of demagoguery, racism and bigotry.

This is not the first time Burns has criticized Trump. He made headlines last month when he went after the presumptive Republican nominee during a commencement address at Stanford, calling him "infantile," "a charlatan" and an "insult to our history."

Evangelicals are voting for Donald Trump. What part of Donald Trump reminds you of Jesus Christ? Trump lusts after his own daughter on national radio, talks about women's bodies and breasts in such a disparaging way, and mocks them. How is this in any way Christian? When you make the 'other' the enemy, how is that Christian?
- Ken Burns

Burns said in the new interview that the American media has no historical perspective, which provides "the ability for calm and rational thinking."

"Nowhere in the history of the United States has there been a more unqualified person—just ask a historian," Burns said. "And yet, everyone within media gave him all the oxygen that he's been so starved for. There's a limit on free speech and we ought to have had the wisdom to not provide the oxygen to this demagogue. This is what happened to Hitler in Germany: he tried out crazy rhetoric and was surprised when nobody pushed back on it so he just kept saying it, doubling and tripling down, and then look what happened to the German people.

"This idea that he can attack and attack and attack whole groups of people, and that we live in a media culture where that's permitted to be tolerated—it's the spectacle and not the truth of it," he said.

Burns also swiped at the idea that Trump was in any way an Evangelical, let alone Christian.

In that, he is not alone. Trump's faith – or lack thereof – has been the focus of repeated stories over the past six months. Most notably, Trump recently gathered with evangelical leaders last month in attempt to convince them of his Christian bona fides. The success at the meeting for Trump baffles Burns.

"The Republican Party has been extraordinarily successful at getting many groups of people to vote against their self-interest," Burns said. "Evangelicals are voting for Donald Trump. What part of Donald Trump reminds you of Jesus Christ? Trump lusts after his own daughter on national radio, talks about women's bodies and breasts in such a disparaging way, and mocks them. How is this in any way Christian? When you make the 'other' the enemy, how is that Christian?"

Burns – who repeatedly endorsed Barack Obama for president and likened him to Franklin D. Roosevelt – was referencing Trump's call for a ban on Muslim refugees, which he argued was only possible because the Republican Party's membership was enabling the candidate by its supposed fear of others and its suspicion of President Obama's intentions.

"Look, when you have a Republican Party where 54 percent believe that Obama's not a Christian and he's a Muslim? I read Christmas messages from distant relatives who talk about him trying to turn the United States Army into the Muslim Army. I mean ... what is the Muslim Army?" Burns said.

Burns was not only critical of Trump in the interview. He also criticized presumptive Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton for her views on race. She called gang members "super-predators" during her husband's presidency in 1996

But, he said, "I find Donald Trump more of a super-predator."