The New York Times has the history completely backwards
Fury erupted among the Left's Drama Queens, notes Legal Insurrection's (obrigado to Sarah Hoyt), when the Washington Post, which is supposed to be one of the "leftists' safe space[s]", allowed George Will to pen a column on "Nikole Hannah-Jones’ flagrant rewriting of history", i.e., The malicious, historically illiterate 1619 Project.
This December's column is even stronger than the one that George Will penned a year and a half ago, The ‘1619 Project’ is filled with slovenliness and ideological ax-grinding. Excerpts from May 2020:
… trust evaporates when journalistic entities embrace political projects
… Because the [New York] Times ignored today’s most eminent relevant scholars — e.g., Brown University’s Gordon Wood, Princeton’s James McPherson and Sean Wilentz and Allen Guelzo, City University of New York’s James Oakes, Columbia’s Barbara Fields — the project’s hectoring tone and ideological ax-grinding are unsurprising.
… The project’s purpose is to displace the nation’s actual 1776 founding, thereby draining from America’s story the moral majesty of the first modern nation’s Enlightenment precepts proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence and implemented by the Constitution. Although monomaniacally focused on slavery, the Times’s project completely misses the most salient point:… Has … the slogan of the party governing Oceania in George Orwell’s “1984” [“Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past”] supplanted “All the news that’s fit to print” as the Times’s credo?
The phenomenon of slavery was millennia old in 1776, but as Gordon Wood says, “It’s the American Revolution that makes [slavery] a problem for the world.” Sean Wilentz (see his 2018 book “No Property in Man: Slavery and Antislavery at the Nation’s Founding”) correctly insists that what “originated in America” was “organized anti-slavery politics,” and it did so because of those Enlightenment precepts in the Declaration’s first two paragraphs.
What is stunning is that George Will can see through the 1619 Project, and that so clearly, while he is still blind-sided regarding Donald Trump, the January 6 "riots", and the like.
Still, on this, the shortest day in the year, let George and his December 2021 column have his/their time in the sunshine:
The [New York] Times’s original splashy assertion – slightly fudged after the splash garnered a Pulitzer Prize – was that the American Revolution, the most important event in our history, was shameful because a primary reason it was fought was to preserve slavery. The war was supposedly ignited by a November 1775 British offer of freedom to Blacks who fled slavery and joined British forces. Well.
That offer came after increasingly volcanic American reactions to various British provocations: After the 1765 Stamp Act. After the 1770 Boston Massacre. After the 1773 Boston Tea Party. After the 1774 Coercive Acts (including closure of Boston’s port) and other events of “The Long Year of Revolution” (the subtitle of Mary Beth Norton’s “1774”). And after, in 1775, the April 19 battles of Lexington and Concord, the June 17 battle of Bunker Hill and George Washington on July 3 assuming command of the Continental Army.
… Addressing the American Council of Trustees and Alumni last month, Gordon S. Wood, today’s foremost scholar of America’s Founding, dissected the 1619 Project’s contentions. When the Revolution erupted, Britain “was not threatening to abolish slavery in its empire,” which included lucrative, slavery-dependent sugar-producing colonies in the Caribbean. Wood added:“If the Virginian slaveholders had been frightened of British abolitionism, why only eight years after the war ended would the board of visitors or the trustees of the College of William & Mary, wealthy slaveholders all, award an honorary degree to Granville Sharp, the leading British abolitionist at the time? Had they changed their minds so quickly? ... The New York Times has no accurate knowledge of Virginia’s Revolutionary culture and cannot begin to answer these questions.” The Times’s political agenda requires ignoring what Wood knows:
“It was the American colonists who were interested in abolitionism in 1776. ... Not only were the northern states the first slaveholding governments in the world to abolish slavery, but the United States became the first nation in the world to begin actively suppressing the despicable international slave trade. The New York Times has the history completely backwards.”
Wood’s doctoral dissertation adviser in 1960 to 1964 was Bernard Bailyn, the title of whose best-known book, “The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution,” conveys a refutation of the 1619 Project’s premise that the Revolution originated from base economic motives.
… The 1619 Project, which might already be embedded in school curricula near you, reinforces the racial monomania of those progressives who argue that the nation was founded on, and remains saturated by, “systemic racism.” This racial obsession is instrumental; it serves a radical agenda that sweeps beyond racial matters. It is the agenda of clearing away all impediments, intellectual and institutional, to — in progressivism’s vocabulary — the “transformation” of the nation. The United States will be built back better when it has been instructed to be ashamed of itself and is eager to discard its disreputable heritage.
The 1619 Project aims to erase (in Wood’s words) “the Revolution and the principles that it articulated – liberty, equality and the well-being of ordinary people.” These ideas are, as Wood says, the adhesives that bind our exceptional nation whose people have shared principles, not a shared ancestry.
The Times says “nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional” flows from “slavery and the anti-black racism it required.” So, the 1619 Project’s historical illiteracy is not innocent ignorance. Rather, it is maliciousness in the service of progressivism’s agenda, which is to construct a thoroughly different nation on the deconstructed rubble of what progressives hope will be the nation’s thoroughly discredited past.
As Glenn Reynolds reminds us, regularly (with good reason),
The 1619 Project is the kind of false history that a conqueror would impose on a defeated people to break its will.