Monday, December 20, 2021

George Will on the 1619 Project

I am not sure that George Will did not previously comment on the New York Times’ 1619 Project, but, if he did not, better late than never.

This dishonest and incompetent work of revisionist propaganda, masquerading as history, won a Pulitzer Prize, has topped the best seller lists and is being taught in public schools-- the better to indoctrinate children in the dogmas of critical race theory.

In a column last week Will opened with the book’s premise. The authors declared that the American Revolution was ignited in 1775 when the British government offered to free slaves in the American colonies-- on the condition that they would join up with Britain,

Will explains:

The 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.

And yet, Will continues, the components of the rebellion largely predate 1775.

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.

The rebellion was ongoing well before 1775. Will concludes:

But event A cannot have caused event B if B began before A.

And then Will brings us some remarks by Gordon Wood, the preeminent scholar of the Continental period. We note that numerous serious scholars have debunked the premises of the 1619 Project.

Wood challenged all of the books premises, because they are historically inaccurate.

Will quotes:

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.” 

Hmmm. It turns out that it was not just Northerners who were abolitionists. Many Southerners were too:

Will continues:

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.”

Underscore the point: the United States was the first nation actively to suppress the slave trade.

Just because it’s all a pack of lies, does not prevent school teachers from teaching the 1619 project as a higher truth.

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.

So, the Project is not merely propaganda. It is anti-American propaganda. It is designed to strip Americans of their pride in country, the better to transform the nation by replacing qualified officials with unqualified officials. In place of the truth about American history we are being served up a revisionist lie whose claim to accuracy rests on the skin color of the authors.

It is obviously not progressive. It has nothing to do with progress. It is an effort to implant radical leftist ideology in the nation-- the same ideology whose serial failures and calamities defined much of the twentieth century:

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.

If you were wondering why parents are rebelling against their children’s school teachers, here is one aspect of the problem.

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