Monday, April 13, 2020

John Podhoretz on 1619: the idea of reducing US history to the fact that some people owned slaves is a reductio ad absurdum and the definition of bad faith


In the New York Post's Twisted History section, John Podhoretz tells the paper's readers "What the NYT’s 1619 Project aims to teach your kids":
“An informed citizenry is the bulwark of our democracy.” The words, ­attributed to Thomas Jefferson, raise an important question: What are the consequences to our democracy of a misinformed citizenry?

That is the question we parents of school-age children must ask about The New York Times’ 1619 Project. Its overall theme is that “out of slavery grew nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional: its economic might, its industrial power, its electoral system.”

This distorted reading is an educational virus, engineered to infect schoolchildren and warp their understanding of our history — to make that history seem poisonous and evil rather than complex, tragic and noble.

The Pulitzer Center (not related to the Pulitzer Prizes) has designed an entire curriculum based on 1619: “The 1619 Project is more than a magazine issue. It’s a national conversation that demands analysis, reflection and insight from students.”

The material invites students to “come together as a class to create a new timeline of US history. Your timeline should start with the year 1619; work with your classmates to order the rest of the events you compiled.” Yes, students who don’t know anything about US history are being tasked to “create a new timeline” of it. This is what propaganda is. This is what propaganda does.

What exactly is being propagandized here? If the root fact of the United States is slavery rather than a centuries-long and tortuous journey toward a new nation, based, for the first time in human history, in liberty — then the country is irredeemable, likely beyond salvation.

Futzing around with history to serve present-day fashions is an enduring feature of the ideologically warped. But the idea of reducing US history to the fact that some people owned slaves is a reductio ad absurdum and the definition of bad faith.


It incriminates generations who bear no guilt. No one now living was alive when slavery existed, and enormous numbers of Americans didn’t have forebears here when it did. I am one of maybe 100 million people whose ancestors came to this country long after slavery was abolished. How exactly are people like me implicated?

The 1619 argument is that America became an economic powerhouse largely if not exclusively because of slavery, and, therefore, slavery was the lure that led my grandparents to immigrate here. A key academic text used to further that argument, Edward Baptist’s “The Half Has Never Been Told,” claims that 50 percent of all economic activity in the United States in 1836 was due to slavery.

But as the eminent historian Wilfred McClay points out, Baptist’s figure is based on statistical bungling, and the correct number should have been closer to 5 percent, rather than 50. “Now, 5 percent is not an insignificant amount by any means,” McClay grants, “but it’s vastly different from half.”

 … The Times project is an effort to alter the composition of the culture’s amniotic fluid, to bathe its most innocent creatures in something they will have no way of knowing is a slander.

The effort is led by a massive corporation comfortably housing writers who are preaching the villainy of the United States on six-digit salaries. What we have here are people at the summit of the elite talking without irony about the injustices of the ­nation that has garlanded them with fame, influence and power.

In misinforming the citizenry and thereby making it vastly more difficult for parents to raise their children as proud Americans who must continue the great experiment in liberty that ­began in 1776, the elite hypocrites behind the 1619 Project are damaging the very republic that has made them first among equals.
RELATED: 1619, Mao, & 9-11: History According to the NYT — Plus, a Remarkable Issue of National Geographic Reveals the Leftists' "Blame America First" Approach to History

• Wilfred Reilly on 1619: quite a few contemporary Black problems have very little to do with slavery

• "Out of the Revolution came an anti-slavery ethos, which never disappeared": Pulitzer Prize Winner James McPherson Confirms that No Mainstream Historian Was Contacted by the NYT for Its 1619 History Project

• Gordon Wood: "The Revolution unleashed antislavery sentiments that led to the first abolition movements in the history of the world" — another Pulitzer-Winning Historian Had No Warning about the NYT's 1619 Project

• A Black Political Scientist "didn’t know about the 1619 Project until it came out"; "These people are kind of just making it up as they go"

• Clayborne Carson: Another Black Historian Kept in the Dark About 1619

• If historians did not hear of the NYT's history (sic) plan, chances are great that the 1619 Project was being deliberately kept a tight secret

• Oxford Historian Richard Carwardine: 1619 is “a preposterous and one-dimensional reading of the American past”

• World Socialists: "the 1619 Project is a politically motivated falsification of history" by the New York Times, aka "the mouthpiece of the Democratic Party"

• Dan Gainor on 1619 and rewriting history: "To the Left elite like the NY Times, there’s no narrative they want to destroy more than American exceptionalism"

• Utterly preposterous claims: The 1619 project is a cynical political ploy, aimed at piercing the heart of the American understanding of justice

• One of the Main Sources for the NYT's 1619 Project Is a Career Communist Propagandist who Defends Stalinism

• A Pulitzer Prize?! Among the 1619 Defenders Is "a Fringe Academic" with "a Fetish for Authoritarian Terror" and "a Soft Spot" for Mugabe, Castro, and Even Stalin

• Allen C Guelzo: The New York Times offers bitterness, fragility, and intellectual corruption—The 1619 Project is not history; it is conspiracy theory

• The 1619 Project is an exercise in religious indoctrination: Ignoring, downplaying, or rewriting the history of 1861 to 1865, the Left and the NYT must minimize, downplay, or ignore the deaths of 620,000 Americans

Fake But Accurate: The People Behind the NYT's 1619 Project Make a "Small" Clarification, But Only Begrudgingly and Half-Heartedly, Because Said Mistake Actually Undermines The 1619 Project's Entire Premise

• 1619 and The Collapse of the Fourth Estate by Peter Wood: No one has been able to identify a single leader, soldier, or supporter of the Revolution who wanted to protect his right to hold slaves (A declaration that slavery is the founding institution of America and the center of everything important in our history is a ground-breaking claim, of the same type as claims that America condones rape culture, that 9/11 was an inside job, that vaccinations cause autism, that the Moon landing was a hoax, or that ancient astronauts built the pyramids)

• Mary Beth Norton:  In 1774, a year before Dunmore's proclamation, Americans had already in fact become independent

• Most of the founders, including Thomas Jefferson, opposed slavery’s continued existence, writes Rick Atkinson, despite the fact that many of them owned slaves

• Leslie Harris: Far from being fought to preserve slavery, the Revolutionary War became a primary disrupter of slavery in the North American Colonies (even the NYT's fact-checker on the 1619 Project disagrees with its "conclusions": "It took 60 more years for the British government to finally end slavery in its Caribbean colonies")

• Sean Wilentz on 1619: the movement in London to abolish the slave trade formed only in 1787, largely inspired by… American (!) antislavery opinion that had arisen in the 1760s and 1770s

• 1619 & Slavery's Fatal Lie: it is more accurate to say that what makes America unique isn't slavery but the effort to abolish it

• 1619 & 1772: Most of the founders, including Jefferson, opposed slavery’s continued existence, despite many of them owning slaves; And Britain would remain the world's foremost slave-trading nation into the nineteenth century

• Wilfred Reilly on 1619: Slavery was legal in Britain in 1776, and it remained so in all overseas British colonies until 1833

• James Oakes on 1619: "Slavery made the slaveholders rich; But it made the South poor; And it didn’t make the North rich — So the legacy of slavery is poverty, not wealth"

• 1619: No wonder this place is crawling with young socialists and America-haters — the utter failure of the U.S. educational system to teach the history of America’s founding

• 1619: Invariably Taking the Progressive Side — The Ratio of Democratic to Republican Voter Registration in History Departments is More than 33 to 1

• Denying the grandeur of the nation’s founding—Wilfred McClay on 1619: "Most of my students are shocked to learn that that slavery is not uniquely American"

• "Distortions, half-truths, and outright falsehoods": Where does the 1619 project state that Africans themselves were central players in the slave trade? That's right: Nowhere

• John Podhoretz on 1619: the idea of reducing US history to the fact that some people owned slaves is a reductio ad absurdum and the definition of bad faith

• The 1619 Africans in Virginia were not ‘enslaved’, a black historian points out; they were indentured servants — just like the majority of European whites were

"Two thirds of the people, white as well as black, who crossed the Atlantic in the first 200 years are indentured servants" notes Dolores Janiewski; "The poor people, black and white, share common interests"

Wondering Why Slavery Persisted for Almost 75 Years After the Founding of the USA? According to Lincoln, the Democrat Party's "Principled" Opposition to "Hate Speech"

• Victoria Bynum on 1619 and a NYT writer's "ignorance of history": "As dehumanizing and brutal as slavery was, the institution was not a giant concentration camp"

• The Confederate Flag: Another Brick in the Leftwing Activists' (Self-Serving) Demonization of America and Rewriting of History

Who, Exactly, Is It Who Should Apologize for Slavery and Make Reparations? America? The South? The Descendants of the Planters? …
 
• Anti-Americanism in the Age of the Coronavirus, the NBA, and 1619

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