1619 vs. 1776
We are in trouble in America because we have millions of uneducated young people who think they are “woke”—who believe America is basically evil—and always has been.
If the New York Times gets their way, there will be more such Americans. The NYT has initiated, along with the Pulitzer Center, something called the 1619 Project. 1619 was the infamous year in which slavery was introduced into Jamestown, and thus, into America. This curriculum is now being peddled to school districts in every state of the union.
The idea of the 1619 Project is that without the slaves, there never would have been an America. America is defined because of the slavery experience. Furthermore, the 1619 Project, based on a dubious foundation, marries slavery with capitalism. In their view, no slavery, no capitalism.
This is so misguided in every way. Slavery in antebellum South delayed capitalism and its benefits there by slowing modernization as owners relied on the inhuman tradition.
Slavery was not unique to America. What was unique was the 600,000-plus men who died in the Civil War, ultimately over the catalyst issue of slavery.
Abraham Lincoln argued their blood was not shed in vain. In his Gettysburg Address, the 16th president said of the decisive battle there, “…we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.”
But now the 1619 Project seems to ignore that sacrifice as it sets out to teach Americans that this nation is and always was racist.
Writing for hotair.com (11/30/19), John Sexton highlighted some prominent historians who do not think the 1619 Project is accurate.
One of them, for example, is James Oakes, history professor at City University of New York who has won awards for some of his books on the conflict over American slavery.
Oakes responds to the idea promoted by this new curriculum that racism is intrinsic to America (as 1619 Project lead writer Nickole Hanna-Jones claims, writing, “anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country”).
Oakes disagrees. He says, “These are really dangerous tropes. They’re not only ahistorical, they’re actually anti-historical. The function of those tropes is to deny change over time.”
Furthermore, he notes, it implies we cannot change. “There’s nothing we can do to get out of it. If it’s the DNA, there’s nothing you can do. What do you do? Alter your DNA?”
Thankfully, there has arisen a new counterpart to the 1619 Project. In his End of Day Report (2/20/20), Gary Bauer warns, “Public schools across the country are embracing this fiction and teaching it as fact in their classrooms.” But he notes, “I am pleased to report that a group of scholars has come together to defend our nation. They are specifically rebutting the absurd claims of the 1619 Project, launched by the New York Times, to recast America as a racist nation founded on the evil of slavery.”
Bauer continues, “Many historians have spoken out against the 1619 Project. And now several of the nation’s preeminent black scholars, pastors and activists are pushing back too, and speaking up for America through what they are calling ‘1776.’”
One of the participants in the 1776 push, called 1776 Unites, is Dr. Carol Swain, former law professor at Vanderbilt. Swain decried the 1619 Project, arguing that it sends a “very crippling message to our children.”
Two years ago, I had the privilege to interview the late Dr. Walter Williams, the syndicated columnist and economics professor at George Mason University, for a television segment. Dr. Williams told me, “Slavery has been mankind’s standard fare throughout his entire history. Even the word, ‘slave,’ in most languages is ‘slav.’ That is because the Slavic people were among the first to be enslaved. And Africans were among the last to be enslaved. And the great thing about the Western world is that we spent many resources on eliminating slavery.”
When I see the constant attempt to rewrite our history and erase God from our history, I am reminded of the line from the Michael Moore-type character in the politically incorrect satirical movie, An American Carol (by David Zucker, 2008) who said in effect, “I love America. That’s why we have to destroy it, to build it up again in a new way.”
Since slavery has not been unique to America, 1619 does not define this nation. 1776, when we accepted the notion that we have God-given rights, ultimately planted the seeds for the abolition of slavery and is the real birth of our nation.
[Originally posted: 2/26/20]