Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns compared Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ education bill to the Soviet Union in an interview with CNN Tuesday.
The legislation, known as Florida House Bill 999, intends to defund all diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives at state colleges and ban critical race theory (CRT) and gender studies classes from the state curriculum. Burns said this move is “exclusionary” and “Soviet.”
“What makes America great is not the suppression of ideas or the pursuit of every corner of those ideas may lead us, or the facts, it’s about who we are and how we investigate who we are and celebrate the diversity of who we are,” Burns said. “All of these bills that DeSantis and others are doing, limit the ability to understand who we are and are not inclusive, they are exclusive. They are narrowing the focus of what is and what isn’t American history. It’s terrifying, it’s feels like a Soviet system or the way the Nazis would build a Potemkin village.”
“It’s just a rewriting of history at the most dangerous level,” he went on to say. “It’s a huge threat to our Republic. I’m doing, Don, a film right now, working on a major series, on the history of the American Revolution, and I can tell that Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Payne and George Washington and John Adams and James Madison and Alexander Hamilton are rolling over in their graves if they think that this person is carrying the mantle of what it is to be American.” (RELATED: Gov. Ron DeSantis Calls Out CNN Segment For Comparing Migrant Transport To Holocaust)
DeSantis has referred to DEI programs as “ideological” and vowed to provide Florida students with “true academics” by increasing the number of quality professors and give Board of Trustees and university presidents the power to conduct a review at any time.
Burns previously compared DeSantis’ relocation of voluntary migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, to the Holocaust in a Sept. 15 appearance on CNN.
“It’s the abstraction of human life,” Burns said. “This is coming straight out of the authoritarian playbook. This is what’s so disturbing about DeSantis, to use human beings, to weaponize human beings for a political purpose. What we find in all our films is that the themes that we engage in the past are present today. So when you look at the story that we’re telling of the U.S. and the Holocaust, you understand that the time to save a democracy is before it’s lost, we promise you.”