Recently, a group of historians gathered on Facebook to share some of their very highly educated opinions about Donald Trump. Needless to say, being actual historians, and firm upholders of our fact-based world, these opinions were not favorable.
How could they be? You know, because facts.
For example, Ken Burns said of Trump,
“We see nurtured in his campaign an incipient proto-fascism anti-immigrant Know Nothing-ism, a disrespect for the judiciary. The prospect of women losing authority over their own bodies, African Americans asked to go to the back of the line, voter suppression gleefully promoted, jingoistic saber-rattling, a total lack of historical awareness, a political paranoia that, predictably, points fingers, always making the other wrong.”
Which led Bill O’Reilly to single out Burns, one of the two founding members of Historians on Donald Trump (along with David McCullough), for an uneducated and ill-informed tongue lashing.
Here again, for Trump apologists it is not Trump’s fault that he is acting like a fascist, but rather the fault of those who call attention to it. Being a fascist is okay; calling that person a fascist is a “smear.” And here conservatives claim to disdain political correctness.
Not so much.
Watch courtesy of Media Matters for America:
BILL O’REILLY (HOST): In the Personal Story segment tonight, documentarian Ken Burns, who I know, he’s a pretty good guy, he did the Civil War series. Well, he recently got a bit hysterical talking about the Trump phenomenon.
O’REILLY: Burns is a smart guy. I don’t know what comes over them, it’s not like Germany in the 30’s, not like Italy in the 30’s, not like Albania in 1812. It’s not like anything. It’s America, people are angry. So, why do you think Burns is doing it?
BERNARD GOLDBERG: Well, I think I understand this. And it’s not just Burns. It starts out with the fact that Donald Trump is unlike anybody who has run for president in our lifetime, and way, way before that. He is detested, and that’s the word I want to use, detested, not just by people like liberal Democrats like Ken Burns. He is also detested by more than a few conservative Republicans. And it’s not simply — I don’t even think it’s mainly because of his policies. I think it’s largely because of his demeanor.
Donald Trump is seen by Ken Burns and people on the left also, mainly people on the left as a barbarian, as someone who is vulgar, someone who is a narcissist. Someone who lies a lot. And they hate that, but most of all, they hate the fact that he is not universally condemned. He says something outlandish, and he is cheered by millions and millions of Americans. I think that bothers them.
O’REILLY: But wait a minute — Wait, wait, wait wait. How does that have to do though — even if that’s true, what does it have to do with the Third Reich, or Mussolini?
GOLDBERG: I was in the middle of a sentence that said but when it comes to the comparisons of the Nazis, that’s something that’s almost entirely a liberal democratic thing. America in 2016 is not Germany in the early 30’s that led up to Hitler. It’s just not an intelligent comparison, and I find it to be insulting to the memories of all the people who were slaughtered by real Nazis.
O’REILLY: I was disappointed with Ken Burns. He is a historian, he knows better. This is a smear tactic that we’re seeing far too much of in this campaign.
O’Reilly is right, at least, in saying Burns is a smart guy and a historian, because O’Reilly is neither. And he does know better – than O’Reilly. And it is not only Burns speaking out about the threat posed by Donald Trump, but other well known and highly respected historians.
Real historians understand history. Yes, everyone has personal ideologies, and it is impossible to be completely objective, but there is a difference between trying to be objective, as these historians do, and going out of your way to inject bias and to disregard facts in favor of wishful thinking, as does O’Reilly.
Once again, the facts are not to GOP-liking and therefore the purveyors of those facts must be condemned and fact labeled a “smear.” But O’Reilly said it himself: Burns knows better than O’Reilly, and O’Reilly just proved it.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.