Tuesday, August 14, 2007

He's Back

"Discuss the Bush Administration assault on the U.S. Constitution in the early years of the 21st century. Be specific as to techniques and the circumstances which made it possible. Name the enablers of this semi-coup and its implications for today. Why was the news media so ineffectual in opposing the "neocons"?
Somewhere in the answer to this upper-division history class exam of the future you would find mention of Karl Rove. He will not be treated kindly in any test booklet that earns an "A". And that's about all I want to say about Mr. Rove.

Still summer, and unless you think Mitt Romney's straw poll "victory" in Iowa was a big deal, fixed rules and all, then nothing much happened.
So let's look at the future for a minute. Another PBS Blockbuster multi-hour epic documentary is in your future. This one, like the ones about the Civil War, Baseball and Jazz (and some others that weren't quite so epic) comes to us from Ken Burns. The subject this time around is the Second World War, the single most history changing event of the 20th Century.
So, how do YOU feel about Ken Burns and his penchant for doing big BIG projects on historical events we should all know something about, but are a little vague about nonetheless? Sure, they did a lousy job of teaching these things in high school, and we were into other things that we had to know for our major to devote much attention in college. Grandpas all over the country sensed correctly that their war stories would be ignored, so they never bothered to tell them at all. So here we are, sorely in need of a refresher course, this one to be given first hand by aging vets (instead of historians) before they all pass on. We NEED this, piano effects and all, right?
Hey, I think so. And I really like the Burns productions, overblown though they might seem at times. I even tried once to add a Burns type piano riff to a Sunday school class. My pianist did a great job, but the class members paid no attention and the effect went right over their heads.
I admit that Burns himself is a little irritating. He never seems to get older, with a 1966 haircut that retains its original color 'a la Reagan or Mitt Romney. These productions have to involve dozens of employees. I wonder how often he chews them out, and how loudly? You think he fires many people?
At the very least we should admit that this is pretty big stuff, and that it's not likely to be told any better in our lifetime. We should do our best to see it. I plan to.
We used to have a weekend flea market here in one of the former lumber mills that dot the county. I was introduced to the "security manager" of the place, a guy who seemed about 120 . He told me in an accent not usually heard here that he had earned a living dismantling lumber mills all over the Northwest, but that he had also been at Pearl Harbor the day it was attacked. I had no reason not to believe him, and now think it's a good idea that his story, the WHOLE story of that generation , should be told.


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