The 1619 Project

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The New York Times

The 1619 Project is a controversial collection of revisionist history developed by The New York Times to "reframe"[1] American history exclusively around slavery and racism. The project has received significant praise from Marxists, politicians, activists, and journalists, but consistent criticism from historians. The project was founded by New York Times columnist Nikole Hannah-Jones in 2019 and saw a surge in popularity in 2020 in the wake of the civil unrest that stemmed from the death of George Floyd. The resulting riots, theft, destruction, and general devastation to several major cities in the U.S. is something Hannah-Jones is proud of, responding that "it would be an honor" when a pundit commented that the rioting in 2020 should be named the "1619 Riots".[2]

The 1619 Project is named after the tragic year slaves from Africa first arrived in Virginia, and its premise is that America’s 18th-century founders fought a revolution “to ensure that slavery would continue,” that slavery was part of “the brutality of American capitalism … low-road capitalism … winner-take-all capitalism … racist capitalism.”

In response, President Trump announced the 1776 Commission.

Criticism

The work has been roundly criticized,[3] including by prominent historians James Oakes of the City University of New York,[4] Gordon S. Wood of Brown University,[5] Victoria Bynum of Texas State University,[6] James McPherson of Princeton University,[7] Oxford historian Richard Carwardine,[8] and Sean Wilentz of Princeton University.[9]

Historian Leslie M. Harris has also criticized the project. Harris was one of the historians who was consulted by the Times during development of the 1619 Project. She wrote in Politico that despite her warnings as to the historical inaccuracy of the idea that the 13 colonies went to war to protect slavery, that the Times was more interested in its narrative than it was with the facts, so it ran with the story anyways.[10]

Another scholarly rebuke was from Princeton historian Allen Guelzo, who criticizes the misrepresentative 1619 Project, finding that it presents:

"slavery not as a blemish that the Founders grudgingly tolerated with the understanding that it must soon evaporate, but as the prize that the Constitution went out of its way to secure and protect. The Times presents slavery not as a regrettable chapter in the distant past, but as the living, breathing pattern upon which all American social life is based, world without end.” "The 1619 Project is not history: it is polemic, born in the imaginations of those whose primary target is capitalism itself and who hope to tarnish capitalism by associating it with slavery." [11]

Although multiple top historians pointed out glaring factual inaccuracies within days of its launch, their concerns were largely ignored by the NYT, except for one response from editor Josh Silverstein who essentially dismissed a letter sent by five of the historians mentioned above (professors Wilentz, McPherson, Oakes, Wood and Bynum). The letter, in part, pointed out factual errors and misleading commentary, and stated that every statement offered by the project to validate its allegation that the founders declared the colonies’ independence of Britain in order to ensure slavery would continue, was false. Historian Gordon Wood sent a follow-up letter to NYT editor Silverstein, with permission to publish it, but which never was.

In an email to the Daily Caller, James Oakes of the City University of New York affirmed that the NYT “has not addressed our many citations of factual errors” even after the letter was sent," and stated that “I am particularly distressed by Matt Desmond’s essay. It is based on a body of scholarship that has been subjected to severe criticism by experts in the field..from mainstream economists to Marxist sociologists." Desmond is a Princeton University sociologist who asserts that slavery is the foundation of capitalism, and that almost every modern business has flowed from it.[12][13]

The project has likewise received criticism among several politicians. Newt Gingrich called 1619 a 'lie', and compared the work to "brainwashing".[14]

Meanwhile in 1975 the future Democratic Vice President an presidential nominee Joe Biden stated,

“I don’t feel responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather. I feel responsible for what the situation is today, for the sins of my own generation, and I’ll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago."[15]

See also

References

  1. The 1619 Project: A Symposium On Reframing History, Smithsonian Institute
  2. [1], Nikole Hannah-Jones Endorses Riots And Toppling Statues As A Product Of The 1619 Project
  3. Lowry, Rich (January 3, 2020). Historians Roast the 1619 Project. National Review. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  4. An interview with historian James Oakes on the New York Times’ 1619 Project
  5. An interview with historian Gordon Wood on the New York Times’ 1619 Project
  6. Historian Victoria Bynum on the inaccuracies of the New York Times 1619 Project
  7. An interview with historian James McPherson on the New York Times’ 1619 Project
  8. Oxford historian Richard Carwardine on the New York Times’ 1619 Project, World Socialist Web Site
  9. A Matter of Facts
  10. I Helped Fact-Check the 1619 Project. The Times Ignored Me., Politico
  11. Marvin Olasky (March 01, 2020) Misplaced Blame: Using 1619 For Propaganda in 2020 Townhall.com. Retrieved March 05, 2020
  12. Shelby Talcott (December 22, 2019). Historians Rip Into The New York Times After It Refuses To Address Requests For Corrections To The ‘1619 Project’The Daily Caller, Retrieved March 08, 2020
  13. Shelby Talcott (March 07, 2020). As Top Historians Ring Alarm Bells About NYT’s 1619 Project, Defiant Public Schools Refuse To Answer Questions The Daily Caller, Retrieved March 08, 2020
  14. Gingrich Calls the New York Times’ ‘1619 Project’ to Inform Americans of the Country’s ‘True’ Founding, ‘Embarrassing’
  15. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/15/opinion/joe-biden.html

External links