Friday, May 29, 2020

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


In Playing Politics With History, John S. Rosenberg suggests that, with its panels devoted to issues of social justice, the American Historical Association’s name should be changed to the Activists Historical Association. The article is written with regards to the 1619 Project, but — unfortunately — the field is in even worse shape than believed humanly possible…
 … it is impossible to find any hot button, controversial issue over the past twenty years or more that did not attract the active participation of historians, invariably supporting the progressive side on every issue.

As I wrote here, when the public encounters historians these days, it is all too often in the form of politically correct scolds — in Op-Eds, petitions, legal briefs — offering their scholarship (and all too often only their political opinions) as ammunition to progressives in various cultural skirmishes.

 … In addition to filing legal briefs and serving as expert witnesses in politically charged litigation, historians have also circulated innumerable petitions and passed resolutions at their professional meetings, always taking the progressive side in political controversies. One opposed the legal views of a Bush administration official; another opposed the nomination of a federal judge. And then there are the petitions and letters to editors and Congress, often with a cast of hundreds or thousands, such as this one, signed by over 2200 ostensible historians opposing the war in Iraq.

These examples of what can be called pontificating public history have several things in common. One is the striking absence of nuance, of humility, of any hint of suspicion that informed and reasonable people could disagree. A classic example is Princeton historian Sean Wilentz’s Congressional testimony opposing the impeachment of President Clinton.

 … All public pontifications from historians are based on this argument from authority, but they also share one other common feature: much of the claimed authority is unearned. The December 2019 statement calling for President Trump’s impeachment, for example, begins by stating, “We are American historians devoted to studying our nation’s past who have concluded that Donald J. Trump has violated his oath to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States” and to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Many of them, however, are not American historians, or even historians at all.

 … underserving [sic] of the special authority they claim are the large numbers of signers who may be American historians but whose specialties or representative publications give them no special expertise in Constitutional matters. A few examples — there are tons more — also just from the “S” surnames:
  • Dancing in the Street: Motown and the Cultural Politics of Detroit
  • Ed Koch and the Rebuilding of New York
  • The Vegetarian Crusade
  • The Newark Earthworks
  • US Foreign Policy and Muslim Women’s Human Rights
  • Signifying Female Adolescence
  • Envisioning Women in World History
  • Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America
In fact, there are exceedingly few signatories whose scholarship should award them any special deference in matters involving Madisonian mind-reading, and this absence of any earned authority on the part of most signatories is shared by all the historian petitions and public statements I’ve seen.

As I noted here, for example, in discussing the lack of qualifications by nearly all of these historians to pronounce from on high about the evils of President Bush’s Iraq policy, most had no claim to professional expertise on what the Constitution requires in the making of war. (Examples: environmental history in colonial America; the history of sexuality; how Jewish women shaped modern America; social history adolescent boys and violence; etc.) As citizens, they had every right to express their opinions, but they did not offer their opinions as citizens but as “the undersigned American historians.”

 … The fact that the contributions of historians to public discourse and debate are skewed heavily to the left is hardly surprising since the entire American historical profession is skewed heavily to the left. A recent study of the ratio of Democratic to Republican voter registration in five fields found the following: Economics, 4.5:1; Law, 8.6:1; Psychology, 17.4:1; Journalism/Communications, 20.0:1; History, 33.5:1.

Table 3 of that study provides the party registration ratios by university and department, and some of the better-known history departments have quite dramatic imbalances: UCLA, 67:1; Columbia, 63:1; NYU, 44:1; Duke, 42:1; Princeton: 36:1; Stanford: 33:1; Harvard: 26:1.

 … In what is either irony or poetic justice, the more historians pontificate in public the less respect they and their profession receive. The monotony of their “history lessons” seeming always to endorse progressive positions has led to warnings that they risk being regarded as just another liberal interest group.

 … Perhaps the clearest evidence that historians’ contributions to public discourse are unfailingly progressive is those controversies where they choose not to comment at all.

Hillary’s Email

Take Hillary’s purloined and destroyed public records, “her” email. The historical profession, acting through its associations (American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, Society for the History of American Foreign Relations, etc.) and their various committees, has a long and honorable history of zealously promoting and protecting the preservation of and access to government information through litigation and other forms of public pressure.

Yet throughout the controversy over Hillary’s email, historians stood or sat, mute … regarding Hillary’s massive destruction of mounds of public records documenting her tenure as Secretary of State, not a peep from the historians. …

The New York Times 1619 Project

It’s not as though there has been no criticism from historians of the shoddy, offensive attempt of The New York Times to (is “blackwash” the opposite of “whitewash”?), well, present all of American history as nothing more than one example of racism after another. Indeed, Princeton’s seemingly permanent resident of the public square, Sean Wilentz, has spoken and written against it and applied his indefatigable organizing talents to securing a letter to the New York Times.

But wait. That letter was signed by, in addition to Wilentz himself, only four other historians (all of them distinguished). Where were the hundreds, thousands, of signatures that appear on most missives from historians about grave matters of public policy? “Wilentz reached out to a larger group of historians, but ultimately sent a letter signed by five historians who had publicly criticized the 1619 Project,” Adam Serwer wrote recently in The Atlantic.” He told Serwer that the idea of trying to rally a larger group was “misconceived.”

If so, perhaps he discovered that many historians did or would refuse to sign because, according to Serwer, they “wondered whether the letter was intended less to resolve factual disputes than to discredit laymen who had challenged an interpretation of American national identity that is cherished by liberals and conservatives alike.” As Nell Irvin Painter of Princeton explained why she refused to sign,
I felt that if I signed on to that, I would be signing on to the white guy’s attack of something that has given a lot of black journalists and writers a chance to speak up in a really big way. So, I support the 1619 Project as kind of a cultural event. For Sean and his colleagues, true history is how they would write it. And I feel like he was asking me to choose sides, and my side is 1619’s side, not his side, in a world in which there are only those two sides.
Given the influence of the Times, it is odd that far fewer historians felt the need to make their views known about the 1619 Project’s warped recommended school curriculum than, say, about changes in a Texas schoolbook.

 … The ideological conformity of historians has not served either the public or themselves well. Public discourse with only left voices being heard has the resonance of one hand clapping.

No doubt part of the explanation of the absence of conservative petitions etc. is, as we have seen, there aren’t many conservative historians. But there are some, and there would probably be more if they did not have a reasonable fear that coming out of the closet and going public would subject them to professional retribution, harassment, shunning, and worse.

 … Roger Baldwin of the American Civil Liberties Union used to criticize those who believe in “civil liberties for our side only.” I suspect that the recent enthusiasm for activist historians is limited to activists for progressive causes only.
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

Thursday, May 28, 2020

What Leftists Like Michael Moore Ignore: Cubans wait months, sometimes years, for something as basic as a wheelchair


The hospitals most Cubans go to are shabby reflections of the one where Communist Party members are treated; Cubans wait months, sometimes years, for a wheelchair; they can’t count on oxygen being available; vital equipment breaks down; medicines runs out; doctors and nurses expect to be bribed.

Thus writes Anthony DePalma in a New York Times article reflecting realities that Michael Moore, among many others, ignored (notably in his movie Sicko). Echoing an article by Howard French of almost 30 years ago, the piece is adapted from the author's forthcoming book, The Cubans: Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times. Fausta adds: when you go for surgery, you have to bring your own stitches…

• Related — WikiLeaks: when Michael Moore's Sicko film was shown to Cuban doctors, they were 'disturbed at the blatant misrepresentation of healthcare in Cuba'

• Never disclosed by the MSM: Michael Moore admits to being devoted to Marxism
Until her mother died, [Caridad Limonta] had managed to avoid this unpleasant Cuban reality. But her mother’s illness and death also forced her to confront an unsettling truth that profoundly reshaped her relationship with the Cuban revolution and led her to a deeper understanding of what it really means to be Cuban.

It is an understanding that American voters and politicians might benefit from recognizing, in this election year when relations with Cuba, along with the votes of Cuban-Americans, are on the table. As Ms. Limonta came to realize, being a Cuban means having deep respect for, and first loyalty toward, her fellow Cubans and the heritage, customs and needs of their island society that they share, no matter who holds power there.

But it had taken Ms. Limonta decades to even approach that realization.

The first inkling came when her mother, a retired nurse, had been fussed over by some of Cuba’s best doctors inside Havana’s finest hospitals. Ms. Limonta needed to know: Had she benefited from Cuba’s acclaimed medical prowess because every Cuban does? Or had her mother been pampered because Ms. Limonta herself was a ranking member of the Communist Party and vice minister of light industry for all of Cuba?

Until then, Ms. Limonta’s faith in the revolution had been absolute. Born just three weeks after Fidel Castro started his uprising by beaching an old American yacht called Granma in a mangrove swamp on Cuba’s southern shore in 1956, she had fully embraced his promise to wipe out inequality and create a new Cuba.




Growing up in the tiny sugar mill town of Tacajó in eastern Cuba, she’d believed with all her heart that regardless of her gender, or the poverty into which she’d been born, or the deep mahogany sheen of her skin, she was equal to every other Cuban.
 … On the darkest day of the revolution in August 1994, when angry mobs shouted “Freedom” and “Down with Fidel”— the largest mass protest against the Castro government — she was enjoying a buffet at a Varadero beach resort, a deserved reward for a job well done. She eventually rose to vice minister and held powerful positions within the party. But she couldn’t understand why tens of thousands of Cubans had risked their lives trying to reach Florida in flimsy rafts.

As the revolution aged, contradictions grew harder to ignore. As her job took her around the country, she saw that the hospitals most Cubans went to were shabby reflections of the one where her mother was treated. Other Cubans waited months, sometimes years, for a wheelchair. They couldn’t count on oxygen being available. Vital equipment broke down. Medicines ran out. Doctors and nurses expected to be bribed.

The stark differences weighed on Ms. Limonta, weakening her revolutionary spirit as well as her heart. She was just 48 when she was rushed to the mediocre hospital to which she, as a resident of Guanabacoa, was assigned. But once doctors found out who she was, they insisted on transferring her to Cuba’s top cardiology center.




She got the pacemaker she needed, but the speedy treatment only deepened her doubts. Bound by a strict sense of social justice, she finally forced herself to see the truth. She and her mother had been pampered in their time of need not because they were equal to other Cubans. Not because they were socialists. Not because they loved Fidel. But because they were more important.

 … Standing before a mirror one day, she cried. The scars on her body made her look like she had been torn apart and sewn back together, which was how she felt about her life. She had turned her back on everything she once believed in and had no idea how to go on. 

 … Ms. Limonta’s heart keeps her in Cuba, where she receives free medical care, though not at elite hospitals. Now she brings gifts to see a doctor, as other Cubans do. She squeezes into rattling jalopies to get to work, as everybody else does. She finally feels equal to all the others who are fed up with endless assurances that the future will be better. Fed up with promises of plenty, but shortages of everything. Just surviving, day to day, week to week, saps their strength. Toughened by decades of deprivation, they have found ways to adapt to hardship, but have lost the will to demand change.
 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

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


As part of its ambitious “1619” inquiry into the legacy of slavery, The New York Times revives false 19th century revisionist history about the American founding.
Reason's Timothy Sandefur starts out his article on the 1619 Project (thanks to John Leo) with some kind words for the New York Times, but that does not blind him to its (many) flaws. 
Where the [The New York Times 1619 Project's] articles go wrong is in a persistent and off-key theme: an effort to prove that slavery "is the country's very origin," that slavery is the source of "nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional," and that, in Hannah-Jones's words, the founders "used" "racist ideology" "at the nation's founding." In this, the Times steps beyond history and into political polemic—one based on a falsehood and that in an essential way, repudiates the work of countless people of all races, including those Hannah-Jones celebrates, who have believed that what makes America "exceptional" is the proposition that all men are created equal.

For one thing, the idea that, in Hannah-Jones' words, the "white men" who wrote the Declaration of Independence "did not believe" its words applied to black people is simply false. John Adams, James Madison, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others said at the time that the doctrine of equality rendered slavery anathema. True, Jefferson also wrote the infamous passages suggesting that "the blacks…are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind," but he thought even that was irrelevant to the question of slavery's immorality. "Whatever be their degree of talent," Jefferson wrote, "it is no measure of their rights. Because Sir Isaac Newton was superior to others in understanding, he was not therefore lord of the person or property of others." 

The myth that America was premised on slavery took off in the 1830s, not the 1770s [nor, for that matter, in 1619]. That was when John C. Calhoun, Alexander Stephens, George Fitzhugh, and others offered a new vision of America—one that either disregarded the facts of history to portray the founders as white supremacists, or denounced them for not being so. Relatively moderate figures such as Illinois Sen. Stephen Douglas twisted the language of the Declaration to say that the phrase "all men are created equal" actually meant only white men. Abraham Lincoln effectively refuted that in his debates with Douglas. Calhoun was, in a sense, more honest about his abhorrent views; he scorned the Declaration precisely because it made no color distinctions. "There is not a word of truth in it," wrote Calhoun. People are "in no sense…either free or equal." Indiana Sen. John Pettit was even more succinct. The Declaration, he said, was "a self-evident lie."

It was these men—the generation after the founding—who manufactured the myth of American white supremacy. They did so against the opposition of such figures as Lincoln, Charles Sumner, Frederick Douglass, and John Quincy Adams. "From the day of the declaration of independence," wrote Adams, the "wise rulers of the land" had counseled "to repair the injustice" of slavery, not perpetuate it. "Universal emancipation was the lesson which they had urged upon their contemporaries, and held forth as transcendent and irremissible [sic] duties to their children of the present age." These opponents of the new white supremacist myth were hardly fringe figures. Lincoln and Douglass were national leaders backed by millions who agreed with their opposition to the white supremacist lie. Adams was a former president. Sumner was nearly assassinated in the Senate for opposing white supremacy. Yet their work is never discussed in the Times articles.

In 1857, Chief Justice Roger Taney sought to make the myth into the law of the land by asserting in Scott v. Sandford that the United States was created as, and could only ever be, a nation for whites. "The right of property in a slave," he declared, "is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution." This was false: the Constitution contains no legal protection for slavery, and doesn't even use the word. Both Lincoln and Douglass answered Taney by citing the historical record as well as the text of the laws: the founders had called slavery both evil and inconsistent with their principles; they forbade the slave trade and tried to ban it in the territories; nothing in the Declaration or the Constitution established a color line; in fact, when the Constitution was ratified, black Americans were citizens in several states and could even vote. The founders deserved blame for not doing more, but the idea that they were white supremacists, said Douglass, was "a slander upon their memory."


Lincoln provided the most thorough refutation. … 

Even some abolitionists embraced the white supremacy legend. William Lloyd Garrison denounced the Constitution because he believed it protected slavery. This, Douglass replied, was false both legally and factually: those who claimed it was pro-slavery had the burden of proof—yet they never offered any. The Constitution's wording gave it no guarantees and provided plentiful means for abolishing it. In fact, none of its words would have to be changed for Congress to eliminate slavery overnight. It was slavery's defenders, he argued, not its enemies, who should fear the Constitution—and secession proved him right. Slaveocrats had realized that the Constitution was, in Douglass's words, "a glorious liberty document," and they wanted out. 

Still, after the war, "Lost Cause" historians rehabilitated the Confederate vision, claiming the Constitution was a racist document, so that the legend remains today. The United States, writes Hannah-Jones, "was founded…as a slavocracy," and the Constitution "preserved and protected slavery." This is once more asserted as an uncontroverted fact—and Lincoln's and Douglass's refutations of it go unmentioned in the Times

No doubt Taney would be delighted at this acceptance of his thesis. What accounts for it? The myth of a white supremacist founding has always served the emotional needs of many people. For racists, it offers a rationalization for hatred. For others, it offers a vision of the founders as arch-villains. Some find it comforting to believe that an evil as colossal as slavery could only be manufactured by diabolically perfect men rather than by quotidian politics and the banality of evil. For still others, it provides a new fable of the fall from Eden, attractive because it implies the possibility of a single act of redemption. If evil entered the world at a single time, by a conscious act, maybe it could be reversed by one conscious revolution.

 … [The efforts of millions of Americans] raise the question of what counts as the historical "truth" about the American Dream. A nation's history, after all, occupies a realm between fact and moral commitments. Like a marriage, a constitution, or an ethical concept like "blame," it encompasses both what actually happened and the philosophical question of what those happenings mean. Slavery certainly happened—but so, too, did the abolitionist movement and the ratification of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments. The authors of those amendments viewed them not as changing the Constitution, but as rescuing it from Taney and other mythmakers who had tried to pervert it into a white supremacist document. 

In fact, it would be more accurate to say that what makes America unique isn't slavery but the effort to abolish it. Slavery is among the oldest and most ubiquitous of all human institutions; as the Times series' title indicates, American slavery predated the American Revolution by a century and a half. What's unique about America is that it alone announced at birth the principle that all men are created equal—and that its people have struggled to realize that principle since then. As a result of their efforts, the Constitution today has much more to do with what happened in 1865 than in 1776, let alone 1619. Nothing could be more worthwhile than learning slavery's history, and remembering its victims and vanquishers. But to claim that America's essence is white supremacy is to swallow slavery's fatal lie

As usual, Lincoln said it best. When the founders wrote of equality, he explained, they knew they had "no power to confer such a boon" at that instant. But that was not their purpose. Instead, they "set up a standard maxim for free society, which should be familiar to all, and revered by all; constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people of all colors everywhere." That constant labor, in the generations that followed, is the true source of "nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional."
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

Sunday, May 24, 2020

1619 and The Collapse of the Fourth Estate — 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


The 1619 Project has led to Peter Wood writing a Minding the Campus article entitled The Collapse of the Fourth Estate (thanks to Gail Heriot). He is also preparing a book about the 1619 Project (titled 1620, due out in November) "to which end I collected and analyzed several hundred essays by historians and others who called out the Times for countless errors, large and small, in the Project."
The Pulitzer Committee has awarded Nikole Hannah-Jones a prize for her lead essay in The New York Times’ “The 1619 Project.” The news doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. It was widely rumored that Hannah-Jones was under consideration, which raised the tantalizing question of how the Pulitzer Committee might find its way the past the evident obstacles. Those include her cavalier disregard of historical facts, her preposterous assertions conjured out of thin air, and her refusal to correct mistakes pointed out by dozens of reputable historians, some of whom have well-earned Pulitzer Prizes of their own.

Hannah-Jones’ essay eccentrically titled, “Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written,” is mainly remarkable in how much she manages to be wrong in a mere 7,700 or so words. She is wrong about Virginia being the first place that African slaves were brought to America, and wrong too about the status of the slaves whom a group of pirates brought to Virginia in 1619, many of whom gained their freedom. She is wrong that slavery was the founding institution of America and wrong about its importance in key events, including the American Revolution and the Civil War. Her mistakes about the American Revolution included the absurdity that the colonial Americans launched the Revolution to protect their right to hold slaves.

On this single point, The New York Times felt compelled to make a half-hearted correction to the effect that only some of the colonists harbored this motive. To date, no one has been able to identify a single Revolutionary leader, soldier, or supporter of the Revolution who held such a view. Even ardent supporters of slavery in the 1770s knew better because the British government at the time was stalwart in supporting slavery in the colonies. The meaningful opposition to slavery was among the revolutionary colonists, not the British. And this is no obscure historical fact. Historians working with primary sources have documented the slavery politics of the Revolutionary period in detail.

How could Hannah-Jones have gotten the facts so spectacularly wrong? There is no answer that reflects well on her. Did she know the facts and chose to suppress them to enhance the fable she was composing? Did she disregard the facts because she believed that the history as recorded was a tissue of falsehoods and that she alone had been vouchsafed a vision of what really happened? (Or she and a handful of zealous believers in Afro-centric conspiracy theories.) Or was she simply ignorant of the facts, having paid little or no attention to both the documentary record and the syntheses of historians who have spent their careers examining that record? Our choices seem to be liar, lunatic, or hustler. I don’t know Hannah-Jones and can offer no judgment, but I am hard-pressed to imagine a fourth, more honorable alternative.

 … By her own account, Hannah-Jones relied heavily on writings by a radical writer named Lerone Bennett Jr. (1928-2018). Bennett made up lots of pseudo-historical stories that seldom warrant more than a glance by serious historians, but Hannah-Jones seems never to have seen the need to question him. And personal also means self-indulgent or even solipsistic. The writer who specializes in the personal believes her own “truth” to the point of shrugging off all responsibility for ordinary accuracy.

The Pulitzer Committee, choosing its words carefully, managed to sound magnanimous in its praise but avoided any language that would commit to the claim that “Our democracy’s founding ideals were false,” is good writing, good journalism, or good history—let alone an essay that approaches excellence.

The best that the Pulitzer Committee can say is that the essay was part of “the ground-breaking 1619 Project.” Entirely true. That doesn’t say Hannah-Jones’ essay was itself “ground-breaking,” but it is meant to imply something like that. If by ground-breaking, we mean a dramatic break from the usual, both her essay and the whole 1619 Project warrant the adjective. 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. Breaking ground isn’t always a good thing. Every crank, peddler of tall tales, and herald of false tidings is a ground-breaker too.

 … But the Pulitzer Committee’s bland phrasing that the Project puts slavery at the “center of the American story,” disguises what the 1619 Project really does: it attempts to invalidate and discredit the whole of American history apart from slavery, as—to borrow Hannah-Jones’ phrase—false from the beginning. This is a warrant with some very odd consequences, including the erasure of Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King, Jr., the jettisoning of the ideals of the American Revolution, and the depiction of Lincoln as a racist who wanted nothing more than to exile American blacks.

The citation ends by declaring the beautiful outcome of Hannah-Jones’ labors, “prompting public conversation about the nation’s founding and evolution.” If “conversation” includes letters to The New York Times from prominent historians strongly urging the paper to correct fundamental mistakes, yes, indeed, a conversation has opened. I have written a book about the 1619 Project (titled 1620, due out in November) to which end I collected and analyzed several hundred essays by historians and others who called out the Times for countless errors, large and small, in the Project. The other side of the “conversation” consists of Hannah-Jones quickly disappearing Tweets in which she venomously attacks her critics. (The Tweets, of course, are sweeping and personal.) The other side of the “conversation also includes the Times’ editorial replies to critics expressing its Olympian disdain for their views.)

The Pulitzer Committee no doubt had good reasons for giving Hannah-Jones this award, but I doubt they are the reasons expressed in the citation. The citation is no more than artful camouflage. The 1619 Project is a power play in which, at great expense in both money and reputation, The New York Times has attempted to intensify racial resentment and accelerate identity politics. The timing and the circumstances suggest the Times considered this a good move in rallying black opposition to President Trump, but it was also a move by the editors to appease its own increasingly belligerent faction of minority staff. These practical motives combine with the fundamental hostility to America of the Times and its core readership. Hannah-Jones has emerged as the public face of this “project,” and the Pulitzer Committee in granting the award to her is demonstrating its tribal loyalty to progressivism.
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