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06/12/2016 04:14 pm ET | Updated Jun 12, 2016

Ken Burns Offers Blistering Takedown Of Donald Trump In Stanford Commencement Speech

"Asking this man to assume the highest office in the land would be like asking a newly minted car driver to fly a 747."

YouTube/Stanford

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns spent more than 10 minutes of his Stanford University commencement speech Sunday demolishing everything about presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

At the top of his speech in Stanford Stadium, in Palo Alto, California, Burns noted he always strives for "conscious neutrality in my work, avoiding the advocacy of many of my colleagues."

But he soon ripped into the candidate, telling graduates that the stakes were too high to pretend that he could potentially be a good choice for the presidency.

"There comes a time when I and you can no longer remain neutral, silent -- we must speak up and speak out," said Burns, who is known for historical documentaries. "For 216 years, our elections -- though bitterly contested -- have featured the philosophies and characters of candidates who were clearly qualified."

"That is not the case this year," he said, to a round of applause. 

During his takedown, Burns made several stinging points without even using the candidate's name.

"He is an insult to our history," Burns said. A moment later, he implored: "Do not be deceived by his momentary good behavior. It is only a spoiled, misbehaving child hoping somehow to still have dessert."

Burns described the candidate as one who "is against lots of things but doesn't seem to be for anything," offers "bombastic and contradictory promises," is a "terrifying Orwellian statesman," "insults veterans, threatens a free press, mocks the handicapped, denigrates women, immigrants and Muslims."

Burns reminded the audience that Trump avoided several chances to disavow David Duke, an advocate for white supremacy and former Ku Klux Klan leader.

Trump is "a person who easily lies," he continued; "who creates an environment where the truth doesn't seem to matter, who has never demonstrated any interest in anyone or anything but himself and his own enrichment." He is "an infantile, bullying man, who depending on his mood is willing to discard old and established alliances, treaties and long-standing relationships," Burns said. His candidacy "is a political Ponzi scheme."

"Asking this man to assume the highest office in the land would be like asking a newly minted car driver to fly a 747," he declared.

As some viewers joked that Burns' takedown of Trump was more thorough than most Democratic politicians have offered, the filmmaker warned the audience that "this is not a liberal or conservative issue ...  this is an American issue."

He blamed the media, especially television, for giving Trump a pass and in fact elevating the candidate's hateful rhetoric.

"Many of our media institutions have largely failed to expose this charlatan, torn between a nagging responsibility to good journalism, and the big ratings a media circus always delivers," Burns said. "In fact, they have given him the abundant air time he so desperately craves, so much so it has actually worn down our natural human revulsion to this behavior."

Stanford graduates, he said, must use their new degrees to "reject the troubling unfiltered Tourettes of his tribalism." 

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

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