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1619 vs 1776

The US has fragmented towards two sets of identities, values and ambitions that view the other side as an enemy attempting to destroy America. The self-acclaimed role of the Democratic Party as the defenders of minorities has implied that the Republican Party, as the opponent and the “other”, seeks to marginalise minorities. The Left Democrats are advancing the mission of eradicating systemic racism in America, which entails pulling out racist roots dating back to 1619 and the institutions they founded. How do these revolutionary “progressives” feel about finding common ground with the conservatives who believe that a stable system must be built on the institutions of the past?

Historians say the Virginia colonial charter declared a Day of Thanksgiving in 1619. Virginia's General Assembly is considered the oldest continuously functioning legislative body in North America and is descended from an assembly that first met back in 1619.

In late August 1619, an English pirate ship named the White Lion sailed into the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and anchored at Point Comfort. It deposited, according to handwritten records, “20 and odd” Africans seized from a Portuguese slave ship headed to what is now Mexico. Those captives from Angola — sold in exchange for food and other supplies — were the first known Africans to set foot in colonial Virginia. Their arrival 400 years ago marked the beginning of slavery in English-speaking America, an institution that persisted for more than two centuries.

From 1525 to 1866, some 12.5 million captive Africans were put on ships bound for the Americas and Caribbean. Of those, 10.7 million men, women and children survived the treacherous voyages, chained and crowded below decks with little water or food. The great majority were taken to Brazil or the Caribbean but close to 400,000 arrived in what is now the United States. Eventually, the number of American slaves swelled to almost 4 million.

In August 2019 the New York Times launched the 1619 Project, picking the date on which the first African slaves were brought to the English colony of Virginia. The New York Times said the idea behind the 1619 Project was to “reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the national narrative.” It then teamed up with the Pulitzer Center to develop a school curriculum based on the project.

American history has always begun with the “heroic” events of the late 18th century, including the Boston Tea Party and Paul Revere’s midnight ride and concluding with George Washington’s defeat of General Cornwallis at Yorktown - with little or no mention of the French army’s role in the latter. But the New York Times and many liberal historians believe the syllabus needs to go back further, to the beginning of slavery, which they say was a seminal moment in the creation of “American” society.

In December 2019 an editorial in the New York Times responded to criticism of the project. "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."

The New York Times and its Sunday supplement The New York Times Magazine have criticised the founding fathers of the United States for being slave owners, but don't address the skeletons in their own closet. Adolph S. Ochs, the owner of the newspaper and his ancestors were supporters of the Confederacy and even owned slaves. Ochs, who transformed The New York Times into "the gold standard of journalism" after purchasing the paper in 1896 in a bankruptcy sale, donated money for the Stone Mountain memorial in Georgia that depicted Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy during the US Civil War. Moreover on the 100th anniversary of Davis’ birth, NYT published an article where the politician was described as a "great Southern leader".

The 1619 Project outraged traditionalists in the United States, and the New York Times is often seen by MAGA supporters as being run by an East Coast elitist, liberal clique. Traditionalists felt the 1619 Project was political correctness gone mad and should not be mentioned anywhere near a classroom. Donald Trump threatened to withdraw funding to schools who teach the so-called 1619 Project in their history syllabus.

The 1776 Commission — comprised of scholars and historians — released a report on 18 January 2021 presenting a chronicle of the American founding, a description of the effect the principles of the Declaration of Independence have had on this Nation’s history, and a rebuttal of the 1629 Project and other “re-education” attempts that reframe American history around the idea that the United States is not an exceptional country.

On 17 September 2020 Donald Trump said the Commission's "mission is to defend the legacy of America’s founding, the virtue of America’s heroes, and the nobility of the American character. We must clear away the twisted web of lies in our schools and classrooms, and teach our children the magnificent truth about our country. We want our sons and daughters to know that they are the citizens of the most exceptional nation in the history of the world.... Left-wing mobs have torn down statues of our founders, desecrated our memorials, and carried out a campaign of violence and anarchy. Far-left demonstrators have chanted the words “America was never great.” The left has launched a vicious and violent assault on law enforcement — the universal symbol of the rule of law in America. These radicals have been aided and abetted by liberal politicians, establishment media, and even large corporations....

"In order to radically transform America, they must first cause Americans to lose confidence in who we are, where we came from, and what we believe.... the left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution. ... the left-wing rioting and mayhem are the direct result of decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools. It’s gone on far too long. Our children are instructed from propaganda tracts, like those of Howard Zinn, that try to make students ashamed of their own history. The left has warped, distorted, and defiled the American story with deceptions, falsehoods, and lies. There is no better example than the New York Times’ totally discredited 1619 Project. This project rewrites American history to teach our children that we were founded on the principle of oppression, not freedom.

"Students in our universities are inundated with critical race theory. This is a Marxist doctrine holding that America is a wicked and racist nation, that even young children are complicit in oppression, and that our entire society must be radically transformed. Critical race theory is being forced into our children’s schools, it’s being imposed into workplace trainings, and it’s being deployed to rip apart friends, neighbors, and families.... patriotic moms and dads are going to demand that their children are no longer fed hateful lies about this country. American parents are not going to accept indoctrination in our schools, cancel culture at our work, or the repression of traditional faith, culture, and values in the public square.

"Critical race theory, the 1619 Project, and the crusade against American history is toxic propaganda, ideological poison that, if not removed, will dissolve the civic bonds that tie us together. It will destroy our country.... The only path to national unity is through our shared identity as Americans. That is why it is so urgent that we finally restore patriotic education to our schools. Under our leadership, the National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a grant to support the development of a pro-American curriculum that celebrates the truth about our nation’s great history."

Executive Order 13958 of November 2, 2020 "Establishing the President's Advisory 1776 Commission" stated that " in recent years, a series of polemics grounded in poor scholarship has vilified our Founders and our founding. Despite the virtues and accomplishments of this Nation, many students are now taught in school to hate their own country, and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes, but rather villains. This radicalized view of American history lacks perspective, obscures virtues, twists motives, ignores or distorts facts, and magnifies flaws, resulting in the truth being concealed and history disfigured. Failing to identify, challenge, and correct this distorted perspective could fray and ultimately erase the bonds that knit our country and culture together.

"The recent attacks on our founding have highlighted America's history related to race. These one-sided and divisive accounts too often ignore or fail to properly honor and recollect the great legacy of the American national experience—our country's valiant and successful effort to shake off the curse of slavery and to use the lessons of that struggle to guide our work toward equal rights for all citizens in the present.

"... the path to a renewed and confident national unity is through a rediscovery of a shared identity rooted in our founding principles. A loss of national confidence in these principles would place rising generations in jeopardy of a crippling self-doubt that could cause them to abandon faith in the common story that binds us to one another across our differences. Without our common faith in the equal right of every individual American to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, authoritarian visions of government and society could become increasingly alluring alternatives to self-government based on the consent of the people."

President Biden committed to signing an Executive Order beginning the work of embedding equity across federal policymaking and rooting out systemic racism and other barriers to opportunity from federal programs and institutions. In this Executive Order, the president Biden would also rescind the Trump Administration’s 1776 Commission, "which has sought to erase America’s history of racial injustice. And, he will revoke President Trump’s damaging executive order limiting the ability of federal government agencies, contractors and even some grantees from implementing important and needed diversity and inclusion training".

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Page last modified: 16-01-2022 21:00:14 ZULU