The New York Times’ ill-starred 1619 Project, those writings that sought to rewrite American history without some of its key facts and portray the nation as being started with the goal of protecting slavery, is going to be a … book!
John Daniel Davidson at The Federalist, where he is the political editor, confirmed the forthcoming book version of the “error-riddled 1619 Project,” and that it would double down on “junk history.”
That project, he said, is based on the “outrageous central claim” that it is “slavery and racism” are the true foundations for the American project.
It claims that America was founded on white supremacy.
The beleaguered project, of course, has been the target of fact-based criticism since it appeared. The project coordinator has been accused of praising Cuba for being “most equal,” and then she bullied a university into giving her a job and followed up by calling the school racist.
The writings themselves “ignore Democratic Party racism” and are focused on identity politics.
Its claims already have been debunked by author Peter Wood in his “1620: A Critical Response to the 1619 Project.”
That work by Wood, an anthropologist and president of the conservative National Association of Scholars, took on the 1619 Project’s attempt to reframe American history, and in so doing disproved the New York Times’ main arguments that the American Revolution was fought to protect slavery, that slavery is the basis of American capitalism, and that Abraham Lincoln was a racist.
Columnist Mychal Massie said the 1619 project simply was a Marxist attempt to rewrite history.
It won a Pulitzer, but a large coalition of scholars urged the organization to withdraw the award.
Davidson explains the book’s subtitle is “A New Origin Story,” and he said that’s “precisely what Nikole Hannah-Jones’ lead essay for the original 1619 Project proposed: America’s found ideals ‘were false when they were written,’ and our true origin is not 1776 but 1619, the year African slaves first arrived in the British colonies.”
That, as a thesis, is sensational, he explained, “But as history it is complete garbage.”
Still, that’s been no deterrent for the Times to push ahead with a book version – as well as propaganda materials for classrooms.
Davidson explained, “Five eminent historians — Sean Wilentz, Victoria Bynum, James McPherson, James Oakes, and Gordon Wood — wrote to the Times [when the proposition appeared] to express their ‘strong reservations’ about the project, which they said contained ‘errors and distortions’ about major events that ‘cannot be described as interpretation or ‘framing.” They are matters of verifiable fact, which are the foundation of both honest scholarship and honest journalism.”
They accused the author of replacing history with “ideology.”
Among the worst of that was the “ahistorical assertion that the American colonists wanted independence from Britain ‘because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery.'”
The Times Magazine responded by “shrugging … off” the concerns and denying there were errors there.
But times officials did admit “the primary purpose of the 1619 Project is not to illuminate the past or deepen the public’s understanding of American history, but to use history to advance an argument about the present: ‘The very premise of The 1619 Project, in fact, is that many of the inequalities that continue to afflict the nation are a direct result of the unhealed wound created by 250 years of slavery and an additional century of second-class citizenship and white-supremacist terrorism inflicted on black people,'” Davidson explained.
He noted, “The 1619 Project, then, is exactly what the five dissenting historians suspected it was: a displacement of historical understanding by ideology. It exists primarily to advance a narrative that certain changes in public policy that people like [Jake] Silverstein [of the Times] and Hannah-Jones would like to see are justified by America’s past sins.
“Unfortunately for Silverstein and the Times, their historical claims have been utterly demolished. In January 2020, Wilentz, the Princeton scholar who had organized the initial letter, fisked Silverstein’s reply in a powerful essay for The Atlantic, systematically refuting Hannah-Jones’s claims about the American Revolution, the Civil War, and resistance to Jim Crow in the South.”
Wilentz pointed out, undermining the Times’ premise, “the colonists had themselves taken decisive steps to end the Atlantic salve trade from 1769 to 1774.”
Davidson concludes, “America was not founded on slavery, it was founded on the proposition that all men are created equal. No, we have not always lived up to that ideal, and we might never achieve it fully. But that was and always will be our goal. Slavery was an aberration and a betrayal of that ideal, so was Jim Crow, and we have paid a dear price for it. We are paying still.”