Ken Burns Thinks This Abraham Lincoln Quote Is Now More Relevant Than Ever

“We’re looking right down the muzzle of that gun," the filmmaker said of America's future.

Filmmaker Ken Burns summed up the home-grown threat facing the United States with a quote from former President Abraham Lincoln.

Burns was asked on this week’s episode of the “Smartless” podcast — hosted by actors Will Arnett, Jason Bateman and Sean Hayes — if he had a cynical view about the direction the country was taking. (Listen below.)

“It’s really serious,” replied the documentarian. “There are three great crises before this: the Civil War, the Depression and World War II. This is equal to it.”

Burns then quoted a young Lincoln to explain his thinking about America destroying itself, referencing an 1838 talk in which the future president said “some trans-Atlantic military giant” would not be to blame, but instead “ourselves.”

“We’re looking right down the muzzle of that gun,” added Burns, who also talked in the episode about this week’s premiere on PBS of his new documentary “Muhammad Ali.”

The idea that the U.S. is facing its fourth historic crisis following Donald Trump’s administration is something Burns has floated before. In January, he said the U.S. is fighting three viruses ― COVID-19; white supremacy and racial injustice; and misinformation and conspiracy theories.

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