Madeline Will is writing a new Teaching Now blog for Edweek Teacher, described with much enthusiasm as the “1619 Project”. It is a creation of the New York Times Magazine – which proffers that the founding date of the United States of America should be August 20, 1619, rather than July 4, 1776, because…wait for it…“that is the day 20 enslaved Africans first arrived on Virginia soil.”
Would anyone (outside of the cloistered environment of the extreme left) be particularly surprised at such a ridiculous premise for “Challenging teachers to re-frame U.S. History” as the title of the blog suggests?
Everything about the New Your Times and the ideology of leftist has been focused on change for the sake of change. Truth, accuracy, established history reported in an objective manner have no place in their thinking if changing it a little or a lot here and there can further a single-minded agenda of making the United States something unworthy of its existence. Anything would be preferable, they suggest, other than a constitutional republic that has experienced many and varied “growing pains” but through which we have progressed to world leadership over 240+ years.
The history of black America is well documented and fully acknowledged in most textbooks and historical accounts of U.S. History. No, it is not pretty. No, it is not what should be the history of any ethnic group in the world, but to call slavery as practiced in America prior to the 1860s as “a brutal system of slavery unlike anything that had existed in the world before,” is hyperbole taken to extreme. Slavery has existed in the world – and still does for that matter – since recorded history began. It has always been brutal. The word “slavery” is synonymous with injustice, brutality, inhumanity, and is now rightfully condemned as immoral, too. But to suggest that what took place in America in the years when slavery was a way of life throughout the world was singularly more brutal, inhumane, or vicious than that taking place universally is to exceed the bounds of truth. It is hyperbole intended only to sensationalize the subject generally for effect.
The Times article continues with its rant suggesting that the profits made off the backs of slaves was the singular factor that made revolution against Britain possible and that the fear of having slavery outlawed by Britain drove the effort to break away from that empire.
It goes on to malign both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution for their alleged concealment of their protection of slavery with clauses that “prohibited the government for intervening to end the importation of enslaved Africans for a term of 20 years” and “allowed Congress to mobilize the militia to put down insurrections by the enslaved.” In fact, the Constitution makes no mention of race regarding the ending of insurrections. The period of 20 years was purely an economic one necessitated by the fact that if the importation of slaves were to be ended abruptly, the impact on the country as a whole, and the southern states in particular, would have been disastrous from an economic viewpoint. A viewpoint that was a necessary part of the negotiations and compromises that accompanied the development of our constitution.
The error at the head of the arguments proffered by the “1619 Project” is that the events, statements, and beliefs that existed at the time in our history covered by these events are drastically different than the views held by the vast majority of Americans today. To judge the colonists, the founders, and the 19thcentury American by today’s standards is totally as inappropriate as the characterizations of the founders’ thinking in crafting our constitution
Among the persistent falsehood regarding the purposes of various clauses in the constitution is the modern leftist interpretation of what has become known as the “three-fifths clause” which described the apportionment of representation based on a formula that prevented the southern states from using slavery to their advantage which could have resulted in the prolonged protection of the slave trade in America. By reducing the proportional representative available from the presence of slaves by a factor of forty percent, southern representation was thus reduced accordingly resulting in less power within the House of Representatives. This ultimately made it possible to reduce the likelihood that slavery would be protected by votes cast from the southern states where slavery made agriculture affordable and ultimately profitable. There is no denying that “free labor” was a benefit to plantation owners, but that is not the same thing as being the singular reason for the birth of a nation. To suggest so is a singularly self-righteous and egotistical view of reality.
Let’s face it. Slavery, as I stated earlier, was wrong on as many levels as exist by today’s standards. The institution was abolished in America but remains in many parts of the world. It was, in those days, a way of life and was, in fact, profited from and perpetuated by black Africans who considered other tribes as captors and spoils of war to be disposed of as property of value. It was those black African slave traders who are responsible for the slaves that were brought to America in 1619. Were they not made available, the history of our country might have been different, but slaves were not, again, the singularly most important factor in the development of our country.
The most ironic aspect of this approach to history is that the New York Times magazine – a staunch supporter of all things progressive and Democrat has so ardently condemned an institution that was vehemently supported by Democrats throughout America’s history and is still being used to the advantage of the left through progressive programs perpetuated wholly as a means of subordinating the black communities of America by enslaving them in a financial trap that forces them to self-destruct their families to gain access to the crumbs provided to them by government. 240 or 400 years later depending on where you start, the left continues to do everything it can to drive into the minds of black Americans that they are somehow inferior while promising them that leftists are the only ones who will protect them from “whitey”. That is the very definition of racism.
The real purpose of the “1619 Project” is not creating a more accurate history of the United States. It is to produce a counterfeit history that depicts America as a systemically racist country as a means of dividing the population along racial lines for purely political gain.
To encourage teachers to perpetuate this distortion of the reality of U.S. History via contrived arguments such as those put forth by this project is doing a disservice to the children of America – both black and white and what ever other race lives here – by prolonging the misconceptions and misunderstanding that have made unity among our population more difficult for a century or more. We will never be able to come together until we accept the fact that while mistakes – grave ones – were made throughout American history, the vast majority of them have been corrected with many only remaining in existence within the minds of those who would use them to divide and conquer. Our history as it has been presented for a century offers much credit and recognition to black Americans and their contributions, but to take the extreme positions that this effort takes is intentionally inflammatory and encourages division rather than reconciliation. For that reason, such efforts deserve nothing but condemnation. Those with an objective mind should not be surprised from where this project was originated.
From author Tom Stark: I have been doing more digging and find that the referenced article leads far deeper down the rabbit hole than I first thought. It will take a series of articles to address the depth of this “project” which has spawned an entire curriculum built around this extreme view of revisionist American History. That curriculum is being promoted to teachers across America and is written for a single audience in hopes of keeping that audience separated, isolated, and divided from the rest of America. Basically they are telling every white child in America that they are born and bred racist from day one and does much to guilt children into believing they must acknowledge moral deficiency. This is a page out of the ‘Divide and Conquer’ playbook of the left. Stay tuned.