Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ken Burns: Defend the Honor AND Take Back Your History Press Conference and Tribute




On Sunday, September 23, approximately 150 people attended the Defend The Honor Campaign AND Take Back Your History demonstration/press conference in front of the KCET Studios in Los Angeles protesting Ken Burns’ The War documentary on World War II. Chicano/Latino veterans, students, professors, and activists expressed criticism of Burns omitting the stories of sacrifice and valor of Chicano/Latino veterans from his initial production of the documentary and then splicing an addendum of footage of Chicano/Latino veterans into the project only after intense pressure from communities throughout the United States.

Within the demonstration were counter-demonstrators defending PBS (the Public Broadcasting Service) contending that Ken Burns is not a racist, arguing for “one nation” and “one language,” “stop bullying PBS,” and, particularly a white pick-up truck patrolling the protest area with US Marine messages on its bed while blaring nationalist songs from an outboard speaker system. The counter-demonstrators seem to have confused the demand for the integration of the WWII experience of Chicano/Latino veterans into the documentary as unpatriotic.

The Larry Amaya Greater Los Angeles chapter of the American G.I. Forum informed participants of the contributions of Chicano/Latino veterans. One story recounted US Army General Douglas MacArthur’s demand, “Send me more Mexicans,” upon returning to the Philippines. Apparently, the courageous fighting of Chicanos made an impression on the general. Community activist, educator, and historical figure of the 1968 East Los Angeles student walkouts, Sal Castro detailed to reporters Burns’ pattern of excluding the experiences of Chicano/Latinos in his documentaries—most blatantly those having to do with baseball and the latest on WWII.

Signs protesting Burns’ The War documentary expressed: “WE ARE NOT AN ‘AFTER THOUGHT’!”; “PBS LIES!”; “KEN BURNS IS RACIST”; “REMEMBER THE BORINQUENEER PUERTO RICO”; “ABAJO CON BURNS”; “DON’T ERASE OUR HISTORY”; “TELL US KIDS THE TRUTH; and “WE ARE AMERICANS TOO!!!”

Demonstrations to Ken Burns’ historical erasure of 500,000 Chicana/o/Latino WWII veterans were held across the United States in Austin, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles and other cities. Central to the organizing of these events were Sal Castro, Jorge Garcia, David Sandoval, Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, and Rudy Acuña.
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1 comment:

Moses said...

I am proud of my past activism within the Chicano Movement and I pride myself on not being a knew-jerk reaction type of guy. I sometimes wonder about those who react so quickly, before it's even possible to make an intelligent response to an issue. For instance, when a film or documentary is coming out about Chicanos like say, Boulevard Nights or Spanglish or the new Ken Burns war documentary. People are making their protest banners before they've even seen the film. I'm not going to do that. I am a Vietnam veteran and I feel as though I was in the wrong army and uniform. I pledge alligence to no flag. I'm not proud at all that I marched off to war and laid my life down, every day for one year in Vietnam under the Imperialist aggressors flag. To me it just shows how naive and stupid I was. Signed, Not a proud puppet, Moses Mora