Saturday, March 21, 2020

Black Historian Clayborne Carson Kept in the Dark About 1619: "part of the problem of this project is that they did not approach this as a collaborative activity involving historians, educators, and journalists"


One way that the New York Times and the originators of the 1619 project have been fighting back against the World Socialist Website and its series of devastating interviews with eminent historians is to pronounce all the historians white. That, however, turns out to be not true, as Tom Mackaman has also approached such revered figures as Clayborne Carson, while most of the members behind the pro-American, Black-led initiative “1776” response (project leader Bob Woodson, Wilfred Reilly, Glenn Loury, Carol Swain, John Sibley Butler, Clarence Page, Coleman Hughes, Taleeb Starkes, LaTasha Fields, and more than two dozen others) are African-American (www.1776unites.com). And what black leaders some of them turn out to be. In the case of Clayborne Carson, he is not only a prominent scholar of the Civil Rights Movement, he was among its members, marching proudly by the side of the King family and thousands of others.
Clayborne Carson is professor of history at Stanford University and director of its Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute. He is the author and editor of numerous books on King and the civil rights movement. Carson was chosen by Coretta Scott King to oversee the publication of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. Seven of 14 planned volumes have been published under his direction.
Q. Could you start by telling us something about your background? Because as I understand it, you’re not only a leading scholar of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement, but are yourself a veteran of that movement?
A. Yes, I was at the March on Washington and I knew Stokely Carmichael for most of his adult life. I was much more closely connected to the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) than to King. My first book was on SNCC. So, I kind of come at this from the point of view of grassroots movements being the heart of the movement, rather than King being this charismatic leader at the top.
Q. I’d like to ask you something that we’ve been asking all the historians with whom we’ve been speaking. And that is whether or not you were approached by the authors of the 1619 Project as it was being prepared or prior to its publication?
A. No, no I wasn’t, which is strange because if you go to our website, we have a lot of educational materials for schools. So, I wasn’t approached as a historian, but I’m also an educator engaged in on-line teaching, trying, as much as possible, to get free material in the hands of students. I would have loved to work with the New York Times, with all of their clout and resources, to make a change in terms of how American history is taught in the schools.
I just think that part of the problem of this whole project is that they did not really approach this as a collaborative activity involving historians, educators, and journalists. It seems quite obvious that the number of people involved in the actual process was quite limited.
Q. It also seems that it was written to a preconceived determination, and that historians who might have a somewhat different take were avoided. It’s also not clear to whom they did speak. The editor-in-chief, Jake Silverstein, in his reply to the five historians, said that they spoke to a group of African American scholars, but they didn’t say who was in that group.
A. Yes, and that was a little bit strange. You know if I were called in to have a meeting at the New York Times and they told me they’d like to do this project to make people more aware of the deep roots of African American history within American history and the importance of 1619, I would have said fine, that sounds wonderful, how can I help? I can understand, however, why some scholars would be reluctant because of the work that should go into something like this. I was very much involved in Eyes on the Prize, for example.
Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965 was a critically acclaimed six-part documentary that aired on public television in 1987
Q. Right, you were the senior academic advisor for Eyes on the Prize ?
A. I was one of four. That was a three-year commitment. We met regularly for three years to produce that series. There was a lot of research, the selection of whom to interview. We had what we called “the school” and at every stage the filmmakers would come in with footage, and we would critique it: “Well, why didn’t you interview this person? Why didn’t you ask that question?” It was an interactive process for three years to get that on the air. On 1619, I’m just not sure on a lot of the factual background of this, and maybe you’re trying to figure that out, too.
Q. Eyes on the Prize is a real achievement and the immense amount of work that went into it is clear. With 1619, you think about the orientation of this project to school children, and its problems become all the more glaring. And that it didn’t talk to eminent historians might be more pardonable if it were not also claiming to be imposing an entirely new narrative on American history and a new curriculum in the schools. What you say about Eyes on the Prize is interesting. You get the impression that the 1619 Project was pulled together quickly.
A. Yeah, that’s what I would compare it to. Henry Hampton was the guiding force behind Eyes on the Prize. One of the things that happened was that the scholars got together before the filmmakers arrived. So, from the very beginning. That’s why we called it a school. The filmmakers came in, and we had a number of discussions right at the start of the process, before any filming was done.
One result of those early discussion was to answer the question, do you tell this as a story about King? Or do you tell it the way most of us wanted it told, that King was important, but he was the result of a movement, not the cause of the movement? The bus boycott in Montgomery would have happened, even if King had never been born. It was already a successful movement before he became the leader of it. Similarly, with the sit-ins, and the Freedom Rides, and the voting rights campaign. In all of these cases King was the beneficiary of movements he didn’t start. That’s not to deny the importance of Martin Luther King. I’ve spent the last 30 years researching him. But it does put his contribution in context.
 … Q. And we’re speaking of a mass movement, are we not, when we’re talking about the 1960s?
A. It becomes mass in certain places at that time, particularly in the South. That’s the difference between then and now. There was a mass movement that was directed against legalized segregation in the South. And after that there was this recognition that a lot of these problems were not limited to the South. You had a massive movement in Chicago, in New York, in Los Angeles, where I was. So, if we see this in terms of continuity, rather than saying “back in Civil Rights Days,” it just gives you a more honest picture.

It’s just like saying the antislavery movement had certain periods where it achieved major victories. But the antislavery movement was going on from the Stono Rebellion of the early 18th century. The anti-slavery movement was going on from the time there were enough slaves here to mobilize a movement. So, you have rebellion, and you have freedom struggles. If your focus is on when and how do freedom struggles occur throughout history, then that’s an important topic to take up. What are the circumstances that led to them?

That kind of gets back to the 1619 Project. A lot of their focus seems to be the founding of the United States as a nation. The way I would look at that, is that at that time, for a variety of reasons, you have a predominant group, white men, beginning to articulate a human rights ideal. We can study why that happened when it happened. It had to do with the Enlightenment, the spread of literacy, the rise of working class movements. All of these factors led people to start talking in terms of human rights. It was both an intellectual movement from the top down and a freedom struggle from the bottom up. People begin to speak in terms of rights: that, I, we, have rights that other people should respect. The emergence of that is important.

And it does affect African Americans. We know that from Benjamin Banneker and lot of other black people who realized that white people were talking about rights and said, ‘well we have rights too.’ That’s an important development in history, and an approach to history that doesn’t say we should privilege only the rights talk of white people. There’s always a dialogue between that and oppressed people. You have to tell the story from the top down, that intellectuals began to articulate the notion of rights. But simultaneously, non-elites are doing that—working class people, black people, colonized people.
 
There were three nations that came out of the spread of literacy and Enlightenment ideals. Usually the focus is on the United States and France. But Haiti came out of that as well. That often gets overlooked.
Q. I agree with you. I think one of the things that is missing in the lead essay by Nikole Hannah-Jones is any appreciation of the power of the contradiction that was introduced in 1776 with the proclamation of human equality, and also the impact of the Revolution itself. I thought in our interview with Gordon Wood he took that question up very effectively, pointing out that slavery became very conspicuous as a result of the Revolution. Also disregarded is the Afro-Caribbean historian Eric Williams, who analyzed the impact of the American Revolution on the demise of slavery. Instead the Revolution is presented as a conspiracy to perpetuate slavery.
A. Yes, and it’s wonderful to concentrate on that contradiction because that to me explains Frederick Douglass, it explains King. What all of these people were united on was to expose that contradiction—and we should always keep exposing it—the contradiction between the self-image of the United States as a free and democratic country and the reality that it’s not. If you are a black leader, your job is to expose that contradiction. If you go through a list of all the great orations in African American history, nearly all of them focus on that. They want to expose that and use that contradiction.
Q. I’m glad you mentioned Douglass and King. Richard Carwardine, in our interview with him, said that he was struck by the absence of Douglass, whose name does not appear in the lead essay or anywhere else. The same is true of King, whose name appears only once in a photo caption. The Civil Rights movement is barely mentioned. Black Power and Malcolm X are absent. The list of what’s left out is astonishing—no A. Phillip Randolph, no Harlem Renaissance. But I wanted to ask you about the absence of King, and any significant attention to the civil rights movement, and what you make of that.
A. I think that’s the saddest part of this, that the response of the New York Times is simply to defend their project. Rather than to say, we welcome the critique, let’s work with you to see what we can do. Obviously, this would have been better done a year ago, two years ago, but it’s never too late. And particularly if the purpose of this is to have an impact on the way young people are educated. I’m very concerned about that.

I call our education program The Liberation Curriculum. I see it as a way of encouraging people to see themselves as rights bearers and right declarers. One way of looking at the founding of this country is to understand the audacity of a few hundred white male elites getting together and declaring a country—and declaring it a country based on the notion of human rights. …
 … Q. The American Revolution was a revolution that drew on masses of people, ultimately, and so too the Civil War, which going all the way back to the Progressive historians has been called “The Second American Revolution.” … Q. King was by the standards of African American leaders today, very left in his politics, opposing the Vietnam War and launching his interracial Poor People’s Campaign in the final years before his assassination. Is it correct that he understood himself as a social democrat?
A. Well, I edited a book called The Autobiography of Martin Luther King. You might look at that. It’s not like a secret. On their first date King told Coretta he was a socialist.

Coretta was at the Progressive Party Convention in 1948. She was an acquaintance of Paul Robeson. One of the things I’m writing about is her relationship to King. When they are dating back in 1952, she sends him a copy of Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward and King writes her about how impressed he is by Bellamy’s ideas. So, King says something along the lines of, that’s what he’s going to base his ministry on and that he looks forward to the day when there will be a nationalization of industry. This is 1952.
Q. Right at the height of the McCarthyite Red Scare.
A. Exactly.
Q. And you knew Coretta Scott King? Because I think, in general, the media portrayal of her is a grieving widow, but an intellectual non-entity.
A. Have you ever heard of Women’s International Strike for Peace? In 1962 she goes to a peace conference in Geneva, and this is followed by the first major women’s march in Washington, which she participates in. By the time the Vietnam War becomes more intense, she’s already taken a stand, and long before Martin did. I think that she’s way underestimated, in terms of her impact. She has her own F.B.I., file by the way. She was investigated by the F.B.I. from the 1950s on. They were very worried about Women’s International Strike for Peace because most of the women around the world who supported it were socialists, communists.
Clayborne Carson with Coretta Scott King in 1986
Q. And King’s opposition to the Vietnam War, which seems relevant given the US war drive against Iran?
A. Next week we plan to play a recording, a new recording, of his Riverside Speech. We were able to find a recording that was better than that which was available. It was at Riverside Church but for some reason it wasn’t the one circulated. It was recorded from his microphone, so it doesn’t have any of the background noise. It’s very interesting to listen to it today.
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

• "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

• Clayborne Carson: 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, "the mouthpiece of the Democratic Party"

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

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

• Leslie Harris on 1619: Far from being fought to preserve slavery, the Revolutionary War became a primary disrupter of slavery in the North American 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 ’70s

• 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: 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"

Who, Exactly, Is It Who Should Apologize for Slavery and Make Reparations? America? The South? The Descendants of the Planters? …

 • 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

• 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"

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

• Anti-Americanism in the Age of the Coronavirus, the NBA, and 1619

Friday, March 20, 2020

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


Pointing out in Commentary that the 1619 Project "passes over the complex truth in favor of an exaggeration bordering on travesty," Wilfred M. McClay asks
Will it point out that the United States did not create slavery, did not create racism or racial prejudice, that these things are as old as human history and arlincoe the default position of human nature, absent some strong countervailing moral force; but that the United States, while having a history that is touched by these evils and while having participated in them, is also a country that has a larger history of which it can be proud, a history of seeking to overcome such things?

 … I do know this:

Rooting the nation’s institutions in 1619 not only becomes a way of denying the grandeur of the nation’s actual founding a century and a half later, and of the institutions, including the world’s oldest constitution, that were established then; and of denying the nation’s immense moral progress since that time, and its capacity for even greater progress
At the American Conservative, Rod Dreher goes on the praise the leftists at the World Socialist Web Site, especially Tom Mackaman, who took the initiative to go interview some of America's — and Britain's — most eminent historians (James McPherson, Gordon Wood, James Oakes, Richard Carwardine, Clayborne Carson, etc…) about the 1619 Project:
Heaven knows that I’m no socialist, but it’s clear that they correctly understand that the woke left’s obsession with identity politics, and the total capitulation of liberal institutions (like the media, and universities) to left-wing identity politics, makes it much harder to build the kind of coalitions necessary to defeat what they see as capitalist exploitation. In fact, in his interview, Oakes, a top historian of 19th Century America, talks about how in the years before the Civil War, the Democratic Party in the North, in an effort to hold on to power, embraced racism in a strong way. If they broke with the Southern Democrats, they would lose national power … but if they endorsed slavery, they would alienate their voters. So they tried to split the difference by affirming racist views and policies, while not endorsing slavery.
While Mehring Books is publishing a pamphlet by David North and Eric London introducing "damning new criticisms of the falsification of history presented in the 1619 Project and Silverstein’s reply to the historians," Rod Dreher goes on to prompt his readers to read Tom Mackaman's half-dozen interviews, along with the WSWS editorial that accompanied them:
By now it ought to be clear why the World Socialist Web Site is savaging The 1619 Project. But if you’re still missing the point, here’s the WSWS editorial that explains it.
Despite the pretense of establishing the United States’ “true” foundation, the 1619 Project is a politically motivated falsification of history. Its aim is to create a historical narrative that legitimizes the effort of the Democratic Party to construct an electoral coalition based on the prioritizing of personal “identities”—i.e., gender, sexual preference, ethnicity, and, above all, race.

The Times is promoting the Project with an unprecedented and lavishly financed publicity blitz. … Hundreds of thousands of extra copies of the magazine and a special supplement have been printed for free distribution at schools, libraries and museums across the country.

 … The essays featured in the magazine are organized around the central premise that all of American history is rooted in race hatred—specifically, the uncontrollable hatred of “black people” by “white people.” Hannah-Jones writes in the series’ introduction: “Anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country.”

This is a false and dangerous conception. DNA is a chemical molecule that contains the genetic code of living organisms and determines their physical characteristics and development. The transfer of this critical biological term to the study of a country—even if meant only in a metaphorical sense—leads to bad history and reactionary politics. Countries do not have DNA, they have historically formed economic structures, antagonistic classes and complex political relationships. These do not exist apart from a certain level of technological development, nor independently of a more or less developed network of global economic interconnections.

 … This irrational and scientifically absurd claim serves to legitimize the reactionary view—entirely compatible with the political perspective of fascism—that blacks and whites are hostile and incompatible species.

 … Dangerous and reactionary ideas are wafting about in bourgeois academic and political circles. No doubt, the authors of the Project 1619 essays would deny that they are predicting race war, let alone justifying fascism. But ideas have a logic; and authors bear responsibility for the political conclusions and consequences of their false and misguided arguments.
American slavery is a monumental subject with vast and enduring historical and political significance. The events of 1619 are part of that history. But what occurred at Port Comfort is one episode in the global history of slavery, which extends back into the ancient world, and of the origins and development of the world capitalist system. There is a vast body of literature dealing with the widespread practice of slavery outside the Americas. As Professor G. Ogo Nwokeji of the Department of African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, has explained, slavery was practiced by African societies. It existed in West Africa “well before the fifteenth century, when the Europeans arrived there via the Atlantic Ocean.” [The Cambridge World History of Slavery, Volume 3, AD 1420-AD1804, edited by David Eltis and Stanley L. Engerman, (Cambridge: 2011), p. 81]

Historian Rudolph T. Ware III of the University of Michigan writes, “Between the beginning of the fifteenth century and the end of the eighteenth, millions lived and died as slaves in African Muslim societies.” [The Cambridge World History of Slavery, Volume 3, AD 1420-AD1804, edited by David Eltis and Stanley L. Engerman, (Cambridge: 2011), p. 47] Among the most important of contemporary scholarly works on the subject is Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa, originally published in 1983, by the Canadian historian Paul E. Lovejoy. He explained:
Slavery has been an important phenomenon throughout history. It has been found in many places, from classical antiquity to very recent times. Africa has been intimately connected with this history, both as a major source of slaves for ancient civilizations, the Islamic world, India, and the Americas, and as one of the principal areas where slavery was common. Indeed, in Africa slavery lasted well into the twentieth century—notably longer than in the Americas. Such antiquity and persistence requires explanation, both to understand the historical development of slavery in Africa and to evaluate the relative importance of the slave trade to this development. Broadly speaking, slavery expanded in at least three stages—1350 to 1600, 1600 to 1800, and 1800 to 1900—by which time slavery had become a fundamental feature of the African political economy. [Paul E. Lovejoy, Transformations in Slavery (Cambridge: 2012), p. 1]
Professor Lovejoy remarked in the preface to the Third Edition of his now-classic study that one of his aims in undertaking his research “was to confront the reality that there was slavery in the history of Africa, at a time when some romantic visionaries and hopeful nationalists wanted to deny the clear facts.” [4]

In relation to the New World, the phenomenon of slavery in modern history cannot be understood apart from its role in the economic development of capitalism in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. … Karl … Marx’s analysis inspired the critical insight of the brilliant West Indian historian Eric Williams, who wrote in his pioneering study Capitalism and Slavery, published in 1944 :
Slavery in the Caribbean has been too narrowly identified with the Negro. A racial twist has thereby been given to what is basically an economic phenomenon. Slavery was not born of racism: rather, racism was the consequence of slavery. Unfree labor in the New World was brown, white, black, and yellow; Catholic, Protestant and pagan.
The formation and development of the United States cannot be understood apart from the international economic and political processes that gave rise to capitalism and the New World. Slavery was an international economic institution that stretched from the heart of Africa to the shipyards of Britain, the banking houses of Amsterdam, and the plantations of South Carolina, Brazil and the Caribbean. Every colonial power was involved, from the Dutch who operated slave trading posts in West Africa, to the Portuguese who imported millions of slaves to Brazil. An estimated 15 to 20 million Africans were forcibly sent to the Americas throughout the entire period of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Of these, 400,000 ended up in the 13 British colonies/United States.

Slavery was the inescapable and politically tragic legacy of the global foundation of the United States. It is not difficult to recognize the contradiction between the ideals proclaimed by the leaders of the American Revolution—which were expressed with extraordinary force by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence—and the existence of slavery in the newly formed United States.

But history is not a morality tale. The efforts to discredit the Revolution by focusing on the alleged hypocrisy of Jefferson and other founders contribute nothing to an understanding of history. The American Revolution cannot be understood as the sum of the subjective intentions and moral limitations of those who led it. The world-historical significance of the Revolution is best understood through an examination of its objective causes and consequences.

The analysis provided by Williams refutes the scurrilous attempt by the 1619 Project to portray the Revolution as a sinister attempt to uphold the slave system. Apart from the massive political impact of Jefferson’s Declaration and the subsequent overthrow of British rule, Williams stressed the objective impact of the Revolution on the economic viability of slavery. He wrote:
”When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…” Jefferson wrote only part of the truth. It was economic, not political, bands that were being dissolved. A new age had begun. The year 1776 marked the Declaration of Independence and the publication of the Wealth of Nations. Far from accentuating the value of the sugar islands [in the Caribbean], American independence marked the beginning of their uninterrupted decline, and it was a current saying at the time that the British ministry had lost not only thirteen colonies but eight islands as well.
It was not an accident that the victorious conclusion of the revolutionary war in 1783 was followed just four years later by the famous call of English abolitionist William Wilberforce for the ending of Britain’s slave trade.

 … The United States heaved from crisis to crisis in the seven decades that separated the adoption of the Constitution and the election of President George Washington in 1789 from Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration and the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. None of the repeated compromises which sought to balance the country between slave and free states, from the Missouri Compromise of 1820 to the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, were ever able to finally settle the issue.

It is worth bearing in mind that the 87 years of history invoked by Lincoln when he spoke at Gettysburg in 1863 is the same span of time that separates our present day from the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932. The explosive socio-economic tendencies which would do away with the entire economic system of slavery developed and erupted in this relatively concentrated period of time.

The founding of the United States set into motion a crisis which resulted in the Civil War, the second American Revolution, in which hundreds of thousands of whites gave their lives to finally put an end to slavery. It must be stressed that this was not an accidental, let alone unconscious, outcome of the Civil War. In the end, the war resulted in the greatest expropriation of private property in world history, not equaled until the Russian Revolution in 1917, when the working class, led by the Bolshevik Party, took state power for the first and so far, only time in world history.

Hannah-Jones does not view Lincoln as “the Great Emancipator,” as the freed slaves called him in the 1860s, but as a garden-variety racist who held “black people [as] the obstacle to national unity.” The author simply disregards Lincoln’s own words—for example, the Gettysburg Address and the magisterial Second Inaugural Address—as well as the books written by historians such as Eric Foner, James McPherson, Allen  Guelzo, David Donald, Ronald C. White, Stephen Oates, Richard Carwardine and many others that demonstrate Lincoln’s emergence as a revolutionary leader fully committed to the destruction of slavery.

But an honest portrayal of Lincoln would contradict Hannah-Jones’ claims that “black Americans fought back alone” to “make America a democracy.” So too would a single solitary mention, anywhere in the magazine, of the 2.2 million Union soldiers who fought and the 365,000 who died to end slavery.

Likewise, the interracial character of the abolitionist movement is blotted out. The names William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, Elijah Lovejoy, John Brown, Thaddeus Stevens, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, among others, do not appear in her essay. A couple of abolitionists are selectively quoted for their criticism of the Constitution, but Hannah-Jones dares not mention that for the antislavery movement Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence was, in the words of the late historian David Brion Davis, their “touchstone, the sacred scripture.”

Hannah-Jones and the other 1619 Project contributors—claiming that slavery was the unique “original sin” of the United States, and discrediting the American Revolution and the Civil War as elaborate conspiracies to perpetuate white racism—have little to add for the rest of American history. Nothing ever changed. Slavery was simply replaced by Jim Crow segregation, and this in turn has given way to the permanent condition of racism that is the inescapable fate of being a “white American.” It all goes back to 1619 and “the root of the endemic racism that we still cannot purge from this nation to this day.” [emphasis added]

This is not simply a “reframing” of history. It is an attack and falsification that ignores more than a half-century of scholarship. There is not the slightest indication that Hannah-Jones (or any of her co-essayists) have even heard of, let alone read, the work on slavery carried out by Williams, Davis, or Peter Kolchin; on the American Revolution by Bernard Bailyn and Gordon Wood; on the political conceptions that motivated union soldiers by James McPherson; on Reconstruction by Eric Foner; on Jim Crow segregation by C. Vann Woodward; or on the Great Migration by James N. Gregory or Joe William Trotter.

What is left out of the Times’ racialist morality tale is breathtaking, even from the vantage point of African-American scholarship. The invocation of white racism takes the place of any concrete examination of the economic, political and social history of the country.

 … Replacing real history with a mythic racial narrative, the 1619 Project ignores the actual social development of the African-American population over the last 150 years.

 … Just as it leaves out the history of the working class, the 1619 Project fails to provide political history. There is no accounting of the role played by the Democratic Party, an alliance of Northern industrialists and machine politicians, on one side, and the Southern slavocracy and then Jim Crow politicians, in consciously pitting white and black workers against each other by stoking up race hatred.

In the numerous articles which make up the 1619 Project, the name of Martin Luther King, Jr. appears just once, and then only in a photo caption. The reason for this is that King’s political outlook was opposed to the racialist narrative advanced by the Times. King did not condemn the American Revolution and the Civil War. He did not believe that racism was a permanent characteristic of “whiteness.” He called for the integration of blacks and whites and set as his goal the ultimate dissolution of race itself. Targeted and harassed as a “communist” by the FBI, King was murdered after launching the interracial Poor People’s Campaign and announcing his opposition to the Vietnam War.

King encouraged the involvement of white civil rights activists, several of whom lost their lives in the South, including Viola Liuzzo, the wife of a Teamsters union organizer from Detroit. His statement following the murders of the three young civil rights workers in 1964, Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman (two of whom were white) was an impassioned condemnation of racism and segregation. King clearly does not fit into Hannah-Jones’ narrative.

 … Given the 1619 Project’s black nationalist narrative, it may appear surprising that nowhere in the issue do the names Malcolm X or Black Panthers appear.

 … In a revealing passage at the end of her essay, Hannah-Jones declares that since the 1960s “black Americans have made astounding progress, not only for ourselves but also for all Americans.” She is speaking here not for her “race” but a tiny layer of the African-American elite, beneficiaries of affirmative action policies, who came to political maturity in the years leading up to and through the administration of Barack Obama, the United States’ first black president.

 … It is no coincidence that the promotion of this racial narrative of American history by the Times, the mouthpiece of the Democratic Party and the privileged upper-middle-class layers it represents, comes amid the growth of class struggle in the US and around the world.

 … The 1619 Project is one component of a deliberate effort to inject racial politics into the heart of the 2020 elections and foment divisions among the working class. The Democrats think it will be beneficial to shift their focus for the time being from the reactionary, militarist anti-Russia campaign to equally reactionary racial politics.

The Times’ executive editor, Dean Baquet, was explicit in this regard, telling staffers in a taped meeting in August that the narrative upon which the paper was focused would change from “being a story about whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia and obstruction of justice to being a more head-on story about the president’s character.” As a result, reporters will be directed to “write more deeply about the country, race, and other divisions.”

Baquet declared:
[R]ace and understanding of race should be a part of how we cover the American story … one reason we all signed off on the 1619 Project and made it so ambitious and expansive was to teach our readers to think a little bit more like that. Race in the next year—and I think this is, to be frank, what I would hope you come away from this discussion with—race in the next year is going to be a huge part of the American story.
 … There are many scholars, students and workers who know that the 1619 Project makes a travesty of history. It is their responsibility to take a stand and reject the coordinated attempt, spearheaded by the Times, to dredge up and rehabilitate a reactionary race-based falsification of American and world history. 
 
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

• "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

• Clayborne Carson: 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, "the mouthpiece of the Democratic Party"

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

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

• Leslie Harris on 1619: Far from being fought to preserve slavery, the Revolutionary War became a primary disrupter of slavery in the North American 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 ’70s

• 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: 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"

Who, Exactly, Is It Who Should Apologize for Slavery and Make Reparations? America? The South? The Descendants of the Planters? …

 • 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

• 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"

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

• Anti-Americanism in the Age of the Coronavirus, the NBA, and 1619

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

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


At last, notes PJ Media's Bryan Preston, the New York Times admits its 1619 project was wrong (thanks to Ed Driscoll). But he points out some huge caveats, as do the World Socialists' Tom Mackinay and the Washington Examiner's Becket Adams.

PJ Media's Bryan Preston:
In August 2019, The New York Times launched a project it called the 1619 Project. Its aim was to locate the founding of America to that year, 1619.

Why?

Because 1619 was the year the first slave ships arrived in the New World.

The Times explicitly sought to diminish America’s actual founding in 1776 by changing the focus from 1776 to 1619.

Why?

Because in 1776, the American revolutionaries laid out their “Why?” in the Declaration of Independence as they commenced the revolution to throw off the yoke of the British monarchy. The Times explicitly set out to re-write America’s answer to its central purpose. The Times set out to make liars of  America's founders.

The 1619 Project sought to re-write the American story. We would no longer be a nation built to protect the inalienable rights of all, as the Declaration states, but would instead become a nation forged specifically to enslave some. Who would, who could, be proud to be an American if our nation was founded specifically to protect and project the abomination of slavery? What would future Americans think, and do, if the Times' version of history stands?

The Times launched its project, and historians criticized it immediately. Yet the Times persisted, assailing its critics as its 1619 Project was adopted and used by public schools all over the nation.

Why?

That’s a question the NYT should now be forced to address, in public, as it should retract the entire Project. The paper has made a very significant change to its core 1619 claim. But only when it was forced to do so by its own fact-checker.
 … The 1619 Project deliberately distorted history to serve current political purposes. It must be removed from all school curricula immediately since its core claim is false and defamatory.
In March 2020, notes the WSWS's Tom Mackinay, who interviewed several eminent historians about the 1619 project,
editor-in-chief of The New York Times Magazine Jake Silverstein announced that the 1619 Project would slightly amend its claim that the American Revolution was a racist endeavor undertaken to fight plans by the British Empire to end slavery.

 … Silverstein’s “update” is nothing more than a cynical face-saving exercise necessitated by the revelation that the 1619 Project disregarded its own fact-checkers.
 … This passage is still false. Protecting slavery could not have been a significant cause of the American Revolution, because, far from posing a threat to slavery, the British Empire controlled the slave trade and profited immensely from its commerce in people, as well as from its Caribbean plantations which remained loyal during the war for independence.
… The chain of events that led “toward” independence had already emerged with the Stamp Act Crisis of 1765, seven years before the Somerset ruling. “The British” did not seek to disrupt “American slavery” until Lord Dunmore’s proclamation of 1775—issued after the war of independence had begun—offered emancipation to slaves and indentured servants who took up arms against masters already in rebellion. The proclamation in fact explicitly preserved slavery among loyal British subjects, many of whom would live out their days under Dunmore in his final post as royal governor of the slave-rich Bahamas.
 … In fact, it is the Times that has portrayed the American Revolution as an episode of “unanimity on the part of the colonists.” The 1619 Project presents the revolution as a simple conspiracy of white Founding Fathers waged to preserve slavery and create a sham democracy. The crowning achievements of this conspiracy, in Hannah-Jones’ telling, were the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. On this question, Silverstein, Hannah-Jones and the historians they cite—Lerone Bennett, Gerald Horne, Woody Holton and David Waldstreicher—find themselves in alignment with John C. Calhoun and the other fire-eating defenders of slavery in the late antebellum. Though these historians draw a minus sign where fire-eaters drew a plus, all agree that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution founded a slavocracy, not a bourgeois democracy.  
 … They disregard Frederick Douglass and other abolitionists who found in the Constitution the legal machinery for slavery’s ultimate destruction, and in the Declaration their “sacred scripture,” in the words of the great scholar of American slavery, the late David Brion Davis. Indeed, what is most glaring about the 1619 Project’s falsification is that it disregards the fact that the American Revolution ultimately led to the destruction of slavery. Just “four score and seven years later,” as Lincoln counted the years backwards from Gettysburg in 1863, an institution that had existed since the ancient world, and in the new world for 350 years, was destroyed.
Over at the Washington Examiner, Becket Adams does not let Leslie Harris get off lightly:
The head of the New York Times’s much-hyped 1619 Project concedes she got it wrong when she reported that “one of the primary reasons” the colonists revolted against England was to preserve the institution of slavery.

Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones claims now that she meant to say “some of” the colonists fought to preserve slavery, not all of them.

The admission comes seven months after her faulty assertion first appeared in the New York Times’s package of essays arguing that America’s founding is defined by chattel slavery. The admission also comes after Hannah-Jones mocked and debased the many academics who directed mild and good-faith criticisms at her bogus statement.

And, yes, the New York Times reporter admitting she got it wrong comes only after a 1619 Project fact-checker published an op-ed revealing she explicitly advised the paper against printing the erroneous claim that the American Revolution was fought primarily to preserve slavery.

It cannot be stressed enough that Hannah-Jones’s since-corrected version of historical events was key to the entire project, the premise of which is that America was founded upon, built upon, and primarily formed by slavery.

But, hey, better late than never!

“Yesterday,” Hannah-Jones tweeted, “we made an important clarification to my #1619Project essay abt the colonists' motivations during the American Revolution. In attempting to summarize and streamline, journalists can sometimes lose important context and nuance. I did that here.”

In her original essay, she writes:
Conveniently left out of our founding mythology is the fact that one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery. 
That passage now reads:
Conveniently left out of our founding mythology is the fact that one of the primary reasons some of the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery.
“The clarification is small — just two words — but important,” Hannah-Jones said on Twitter.

Along with not understanding the difference between “all” and “some,” it appears the New York Times reporter struggles also with the definition of the word “small.” Because amending her essay to say that some of the colonists revolted to preserve slavery, as opposed to asserting it was a driving force behind the entire revolt, is a hell of a lot more than a “small” clarification.
Indeed: to add that couple of words while retaining the premise — the phrase "Conveniently left out of our founding mythology" — has now become clearly fallacious, obviously deceitful, and plainly deceptive. Not to mention retaining Hannah-Jones's title with not a single change, "small" or otherwise, as Becket Adams points out below.
Then again, there is always the possibility that she is merely being disingenuous, which would not be surprising considering she has not conducted herself as a good-faith operator since the 1619 Project’s debut in August 2019.

In fact, there are a few things suggesting Hannah-Jones and the New York Times corrected the record not for a love of truth and accuracy but begrudgingly and half-heartedly. First, there is the lengthy editor’s note the paper published this week arguing her original error was, essentially, fake but accurate. There is also the fact that her article’s title still reads, “Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true.”

Also, there is the rather uncomfortable fact that the correction comes only after a 1619 Project fact-checker revealed last week that her recommendations were explicitly ignored by the editorial staff. The timing of the fact-checker's allegation and the New York Times's correction leaves one with the distinct impression that the paper’s admission of error was more or less forced. It cannot go on simply dismissing critics as ignorant, possibly closeted racists when one of those critics is its own fact-checker. At that point, they have to own up to the mistake. Hence the resentful, mealy-mouthed correction.

 … Hannah-Jones deserves no praise for at long last correcting an error fundamental to her entire project, which had been brought to her attention almost seven months ago by multiple academics whose objections any intellectually serious, humble person would have heeded.

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

• "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

• Clayborne Carson: 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, "the mouthpiece of the Democratic Party"

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

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

• Leslie Harris on 1619: Far from being fought to preserve slavery, the Revolutionary War became a primary disrupter of slavery in the North American 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 ’70s

• 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: 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"

Who, Exactly, Is It Who Should Apologize for Slavery and Make Reparations? America? The South? The Descendants of the Planters? …

 • 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

• 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"

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

• Anti-Americanism in the Age of the Coronavirus, the NBA, and 1619

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

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


The New York Times wants to teach your kids and grandkids to be woke. Don’t let them.
In The American Spectator, Wilfred Reilly tells about watching the August 2019 launch of the New York Times’ “1619 Project” with "a mix of genuine scholarly interest, an occasional desire to critique, and mild amusement at some of the authors’ wilder claims" (thanks to Ed Driscoll). An Associate Professor of Political Science at Kentucky State University, Wilfred Reilly is proud to be one of the founding members (along with project leader Bob Woodson, Glenn Loury, Carol Swain, John Sibley Butler, Clarence Page, Coleman Hughes, Taleeb Starkes, LaTasha Fields, and more than two dozen others) of “1776.” 1776 is a pro-American, Black-led initiative intended partly as a response to 1619 (www.1776unites.com). He also sat recently for an interview (embedded below) with The Happy Warrior. Writing in Quillette (Sorry, New York Times, But America Began in 1776), Wilfred Reilly adds in the American Spectator that
I frankly expected to quickly forget the whole thing. … But, then, the 1619 Project refused to go away, muscling in on my turf of youth education and higher education. 1619 recently began working with the Pulitzer Center to market an educational curriculum — billed as suitable for “all grades” — to as many schools as possible.

 … Given the 1619 Project’s staying power and the extraordinary potential impact of an alliance between the New York Times, the Pulitzer Center, and leading leftist academics, it becomes essential to undertake a critical academic review of what 1619 actually says. Quite a few of the project’s claims flatly fail the truth test.

 … My own understanding, … has always been that the Intolerable Acts and other examples of taxation without representation, disputes over the colonies’ responsibility for British war debt, and actual armed conflicts like the Boston Massacre were the primary triggers for the American Revolution. This, in fact, appears to be the consensus view in the field. Regarding the facial plausibility of Hannah-Jones’ alternative argument, it is probably worth noting that slavery was legal in Britain in 1776, and it remained so in all overseas British colonies until 1833.

Another 1619 claim worth parsing is the assertion that “12.5 million Africans” were “kidnapped from their homes” during the Atlantic slave trade, which brought slavery to the United States. While not a direct lie, this figure appears to represent the total number of Black African slaves ever sold to anyone, anywhere, across the totality of time. As the essay containing this figure itself notes, a paragraph or so farther down the page, the total number of enslaved Africans sold into the future U.S. was perhaps 400,000. For all her flaws during this bloody era, our nation bears no blame for slaves sold to Spanish, Portuguese, Iroquois, or Arabic masters — a great many of whom would be considered “people of color” by the racial standards of today. And, while we are speaking frankly, it must further be said that virtually no African slaves were “kidnapped” in the traditional sense of that word made famous by Roots: trapped by whites who walked inland and threw nets over them, say. The vast majority of slaves sold were African battle captives and their families, brought to market by Black or Muslim masters such as Tippu Tipp and the Ashanti chiefs.

Nikole Hannah-Jones and the 1619 Project, as many leftists do, also claim that America’s remarkable wealth is largely a product of slavery. To quote directly: “[slavery] built vast fortunes for white people North and South” and “made New York City the financial capital of the world.” Much of this is again, politely put, debatable. While it is surely true that the slave trade enriched more than a few flint-hearted bankers and ship-owners, reliance on feudal peon agriculture also impoverished an entire region of the country. Social scientists such as Mark Schulman and Thomas Sowell have pointed out that, in 1860, the North had five to six times as many factories as the South and 10 to 12 times as many factory workers. In a conservative estimate from Schulman, 90 percent of the nation’s skilled workers were based in the North. In his magisterial Black Rednecks and White Liberals, Sowell goes so far as to argue that the Southern culture of unpaid slaves, “white trash” sharecroppers, and whip-wielding overseers resulted in a negative attitude toward the concept of hard work, the residue of which still plagues Black inner cities and poor white communities today.

Even such economic analyses as Sowell’s rarely factor in the cost of freeing the slaves. As I have noted elsewhere, the U.S. Civil War — the first truly modern war, in which brother fought brother — was an astonishingly costly and brutal undertaking. Analyzed simply in dollar terms, the conflict boosted the national debt of the young United States from $65 million to almost $3 billion (in 1865 dollars!) and cost far more money than that when state and private contributions are factored in. Far more important, the war claimed roughly 620,000 citizen lives, 360,000 from the Union Army, and 260,000 or more from the Confederate side. In the South, one of every four able-bodied men in their 20s was killed. Roughly one Union soldier died for every nine slaves freed. It is hard to stack this butcher’s bill up against virtually any measure of antebellum gains and conclude that the U.S. made a profit from her original sin.

Many more challenges to the scholarship of 1619 could be launched. The essays often lack any sense of internal domestic context, with Hannah-Jones arguing at one point that Blacks “made America a democracy,” while largely ignoring the contributions of the millions of whites and others who led the early anti-slavery movement and marched with Dr. King. The essays almost totally ignore international context, focusing intently on white English slave-masters 157 years before our country began, but never discussing the massive and globally influential Arab slave trade or the contemporary Barbary trade of mostly white Christian captives. By this point, however, and even without expanding upon those criticisms, it should be obvious that 1619 is not what advocates often claim it is: unbiased scholarship seeking an honest discussion of hard facts. The question now becomes: Why would the nation’s newspaper of record support a partisan, if skillfully written, project of racial advocacy?

To me, the answer is simple. Many Times journalists, and perhaps the majority of the paper’s readers, would like to fundamentally change America. To any ethical person, the implicit message of 1619 is fairly obvious: if our society is undeniably, perhaps inextricably, rooted in evil, it must change — or Blacks and others would be fully justified in hating our country. If the U.S. lacks a single-payer system of socialized health care not because only 31 percent of Americans favor “a single national government program” (Pew 2018) but rather because of the whip-marked legacy of slavery, establishing single-payer arguably becomes a moral imperative. Similarly, if our aggressive capitalism is due to slavery — although this claim is absurd; the most hyper-competitive economy in the world is Singapore’s — the country has no choice but to pursue racial justice by moving toward social democracy. Without engaging in conspiracy theories, I strongly suspect that the great majority of the staffers of the New York Times support these policy objectives and just might see the claim of historical original sin as a useful lever for achieving them.

In light of the methodological problems with the 1619 Project that have been discussed above, I propose an alternative vision of our country. I am proud to be a founding member, along with project leader Bob Woodson, Glenn Loury, Carol Swain, John Sibley Butler, Clarence Page, Coleman Hughes, Taleeb Starkes, LaTasha Fields, and more than two dozen others, of “1776.” 1776 is a pro-American, Black-led initiative intended partly as a response to 1619 (www.1776unites.com). From my perspective, our movement has three core theses.

First, intelligent citizens need to recognize that many of the core claims of 1619, and more broadly of negative and revisionist social science of the “Howard Zinn” variety, are empirically untrue.

Second, historical slavery, while a great and unforgettable evil, is simply not the main thing that defines America today. Virtually every human society included slaves and slaveholders until the modern West ended the practice of chattel slavery in the mid-19th century, and only one of them became the United States of America. A quick and practical way to compare the impact of slavery on America’s fortunes with that of immigration and technology is to note that the GDP of the U.S. has increased 11,796 percent since the last slave was freed.

Finally, and most importantly, 1776 offers an alternative, inspirational view of the United States: the U.S. is a flawed but very good society, where it is frankly not very hard to succeed, given hard work and personal responsibility. Life in America is not perfect, because human beings are not gods and are incapable of perfection. But the plain fact is that people regularly emigrate to the U.S. from developing countries such as Ethiopia and Vietnam and outperform many or most of our native-born white and Black citizens. In 2015, according to the Census Bureau, three of the five wealthiest income groups in the U.S. were Americans of Indian, Taiwanese, and Filipino heritage. While we Yanks quarrel about the ugly racial fights of a century ago, these sojourners to our shores are much more likely to be inspired by the country’s historic ideals, which still serve today as a light to the world. Teaching those same ideals anew to our own citizens seems to be the best way to illuminate a path forward together, for all of us.

Instead of taking the Times’ poison-pill offer to make your kids “woke,” I suggest instead working to make them bright.

In Quillette, Wilfred Reilly goes over some of the same material, adding that
A rock-ribbed anti-slavery movement dates back almost literally to the American founding. As early as the 1770s, Black New Englanders, thousands of whom were Revolutionary War veterans, began a petition-writing campaign that targeted Northern state legislatures and demanded an end to slavery. These petitions, essentially, worked. By the 1790s, 10 states and territories, containing more than 50 percent of the free population of the new nation—Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, the North-West Territory, and the Indiana Territory—were free land by law. And the anti-slavery upswell continued. In 1794, Congress prohibited any participation by American ships in the Atlantic slave trade. In 1808, the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves made any shipment of enslaved persons from abroad into the USA a crime.
Over at Real Clear Politics, Mark Hemingway notes the 1776 group in his description of the controversy:
Since the New York Times introduced its 1619 Project last summer, the paper has touched off a series of debates about the role of slavery in American history. Although the exchanges that followed haven’t revealed much about our nation’s past, they have told us a lot about state of modern U.S. journalism.

Named after the year that the first slave ship arrived in America, the 1619 Project aims to recontextualize slavery as the dominant factor in America’s founding, supplanting discussions more focused on American ideals such as freedom and natural rights. Obviously, not everyone is enamored of this approach -- there have been numerous critiques of the paper’s attempt to blame slavery for everything from America’s obesity epidemic to our lack of socialized medicine.

One interesting rebuttal is coming from the newly formed 1776 Project, which seeks to “uphold our country’s authentic founding virtues and values and challenge those who assert America is forever defined by its past failures, such as slavery.” The group of predominantly black scholars and writers was organized by anti-poverty crusader and MacArthur “genius grant" winner Bob Woodson, and features thoughtful essays rebutting the 1619 Project from heavyweight intellectuals such as John McWhorter, Clarence Page, and Shelby Steele.

Earlier this week, Nikole Hannah-Jones, a New York Times Magazine staff writer and the driving force behind the 1619 project, took note of the rival effort. “I want to say this is my response to the 1776 project,” she tweeted, followed by a picture of her pointing at her bottom row of gold teeth with her pinky, a dismissive and deeply unserious hip-hop gesture. …

This is hardly the first time the 43-year-old Hannah-Jones has behaved immaturely in response to criticism. … it’s hard to top the fact that she calls herself “the Beyoncé of journalism.” It’s a ridiculous comparison …

 … as the 1776 Project shows, the opposition here can’t be said to be wholly the result of a racial divide, nor has it been driven by partisan worldviews, even though the 1619 Project obviously aims to further leftist political goals.

 … But the consequences of this debate are very real. The Times is partnering with the Pulitzer Center to produce classroom materials based on the 1619 Project. America’s kids may end up being forced to digest a version of events that America’s most respected historians say is riddled with errors and represents a “displacement of historical understanding by ideology.”

Rather than being contrite or even responsive, the Times is embracing its flawed journalism in a big way.

  … The Times is all in on the 1619 Project despite the wide array of serious criticism. … In the end, the whole thing is a shame because the horrifying legacy of chattel slavery is still with us and the Times blew a prime opportunity by dispensing shoddy revisionist history on a topic that more Americans really should study.

Sometimes the events themselves tell you all you need to know. Earlier this month, the Navy Times reprinted the story of a fascinating and largely unknown Civil War episode. It’s worth reading in full, but here’s the short version: William Tillman, a free black man, was a steward on the Union schooner S.J. Waring, when Confederate privateers from the ship Jeff Davis boarded the Waring and took control on July 7, 1861. 

 … A lot of terrible things have been done in this country, but Tillman was a hero precisely because he believed that atrocities such as slavery were a perversion of American ideals, not their fulfillment. Unlike the “Beyonce of journalism” and the rest of the New York Times, Tillman was inspired by American ideals to make history -- he didn’t try and rewrite it. 


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

• "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

• Clayborne Carson: 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, "the mouthpiece of the Democratic Party"

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

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

• Leslie Harris on 1619: Far from being fought to preserve slavery, the Revolutionary War became a primary disrupter of slavery in the North American 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 ’70s

• 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: 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"

Who, Exactly, Is It Who Should Apologize for Slavery and Make Reparations? America? The South? The Descendants of the Planters? …

 • 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

• 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"

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

• Anti-Americanism in the Age of the Coronavirus, the NBA, and 1619