The One Massive Strawman About Critics of The 1619 Project
Senate Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have written to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona asking him to remove the 1619 Project from federal grant programs.
Why? Well, according to proponents of the 1619 Project, it is because critics benefit from a lack of historical awareness:
This is, to be frank, absurd and not at all correct. To believe this would seemingly require you to believe that prior to two years ago, schools would not teach about slavery. The idea that the 1619 Project brought to light an issue nobody was talking about or learned about is just wrong.
Talking about the history of the United States without talking about slavery is impossible. That would be like talking about the history of France without ever talking about Bastille Day. You cannot talk about the history of the United States without talking about the Civil War and you cannot talk about the Civil War without talking about slavery. But Alex, the Civil War was not about slavery, it was about state’s rights. A state’s right to do what? Exactly.
The 1619 Project does not just talk about the history of slavery in pre-and post-revolutionary America. It makes wild, non-factual, and politically motivated claims about the members of the Revolutionary generation that actual scholars of the American Revolution have repeatedly debunked.
Not to be deterred by actual experts of all sorts of political backgrounds, it then takes those claims and makes wild extrapolations to explain the state of America today and why systemic racism is real. When the New York Times first came out with the project, it, for example, released an accompanying essay that said that racism and slavery where the reason why the United States does not have Bernie Sanders-style health care. That’s not history or historical education, that’s pseudo-intellectual partisan mud throwing that uses historical sins to shame people into supporting your favorite, unrelated pet project.
It is quite possible to teach the history of slavery in America without arguing that Washington politicians and bureaucrats should control every aspect of health care in this country.
Critics of the 1619 Project and honest history buffs are more than willing to talk about slavery and not just paint the history of the country as a place where nothing bad has ever happened. The question for proponents of the 1619 Project is whether they will allow for a history that allows for optimism and whether the teaching of all the good chapters in American history destroys their narrative that they build to enhance their own political power.