Latino groups pressure PBS over Ken Burns WWII series

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WASHINGTON -- Hispanic groups unhappy with an upcoming Ken Burns documentary on World War II are stepping up pressure on PBS because they say the series omits mention of the role Latinos played in the war. The latest group to take their grievance to PBS is the American GI Forum, [which] is appealing to Hispanic veterans and other Latino groups to write members of Congress and their local PBS affiliates about the documentary,"The War," which has been six years in the making...the 14-hour Burns documentary [is] set to air this September, Hispanic Heritage month. In a statement issued by his publicist, Burns and co-producer Lynn Novick said they were"dismayed and saddened" by any assumptions they intentionally left out any group."Nothing could be further from the truth," they said... The Burns series documents the war from the perspective of four U.S. communities: Waterbury, Conn.; Luverne, Minn.; Mobile, Ala.; and Sacramento, Calif...."In this latest project, we have attempted to show the universal human experience of war by focusing on the testimonies of just a handful of people mostly from four American towns. As a result, millions of stories are not explored in our film," Burns and Novick said.

Related Links

  • 'Defend the Honor' (of Latino vets) website
  • 'The War' press release

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    George Robert Gaston - 4/13/2007

    The Second World War as it is now being taught seems to consist of the Tuskegee airmen and Japanese internment. They might as well add Latinos. I suppose any expansion of knowledge is good.

    However, it might be considered impolite to mention that some small towns in the American south lost their entire population of young men between June and December 1944, and that Italian-American men had causality rates far higher than their percentage of the population.

    WWII brings up some questions that we need to ask and that historians should try to answer. Not the least among these is what was it about twentieth century European culture that produced the monsters that governed Germany, the Soviet Union and Italy.

    While we are at it maybe exploring what it is in Japanese culture that would lead to their army's behavior toward civilian populations and prisoners of war. It could be that NPR may better serve our understanding of history (and China) if they had a seven hour discussion of the rape of Nanjing.

    A serious discussion of how Croat Nazis allied themselves with Germany in killing off huge numbers of their Serb neighbors, and how this may have influenced some of the things that are happening in the Balkans may be a better use of the time than comparing service records by American racial and ethnic groups.