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Monday, March 2, 2020

NYT’s 1619 Project is DISHONEST Attack on Nation’s Founding Principles

Nikole Hannah-Jones, the leader of The New York Times’ 1619 Project.
Nikole Hannah-Jones, the leader of The New York Times' 1619 Project. Getty Images



Ryan P. Williams and Matthew J. Peterson


The project’s leader, Nikole Hannah-Jones, has tried to brush off the criticism of many distinguished historians by claiming that such disagreement is how historiography always proceeds — as we learn progressively more, a new “narrative” challenges old ones.


The 1619 Project, however, isn’t about new historical scholarship, and insofar as journalism is about the quest for truth, it isn’t quite journalism, either. As eminent scholars and stalwart liberals, such as Princeton University’s Sean Wilentz, have pointed out, the project makes utterly preposterous claims — above all, the notion that protecting slavery was a central motivation in launching the Revolutionary War and thus the American project.
Make no mistake — 1619 is a political project, aimed at piercing the heart of the US regime by overturning the American understanding of justice. As James Madison said, “Justice is the end of government,” it is “the end of civil society.” We seek justice “until it be obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit.” To transform America, you have first to destroy its understanding of justice.
That understanding is embodied in the principles of the Declaration of Independence of 1776. The hideous stain of slavery, which stamped this country in 1619, doesn’t alter the nobility of those principles, and it was finally those principles that ­undid the Peculiar Institution.American justice is based on the understanding that while we are all unequal in many respects — talents, beauty, strength, discipline and so on — our fundamental equality as human beings means that all citizens should be treated equally under the law. And law should be ordered toward the common good of all, rather than classes or groups.
The American mind in 1776 ­established the equal protection of the equal rights of all citizens as the ideal at the center of our political life. We have made much progress since then — most strikingly with the Civil War and the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments — in making this ideal a political and cultural reality.
1619’s cynical ploy is to write these principles out of America’s story by tracing all of our prosperity and success to slavery’s introduction and perpetuation. But 1619 goes even further. It attempts to transform the principle at the center of America’s Founding into the handmaid of slavery — rather than slavery’s eventual moral and constitutional stumbling block.
The new moral and philosophical foundation for America envisioned by 1619 is based on the abandonment of the individual equality of rights under the law for a racial and identity politics based on group rights. These groups are to be arranged in a new caste system based on the groups’ varying histories of oppression and their possession of more or less “privilege.”
When we adopt identity politics, the identity and the good of our group ultimately defines us, rather than our citizenship and individual humanity — an ­affront to the vision of abolitionists like Frederick Douglass and civil-rights champions such as Martin Luther King.
If the Times and the cultural elites who are promoting 1619 manage to hang racism and slavery around the neck of America’s colorblind Founding principles, those principles will be further delegitimized in our public discourse. That, in turn, will create ideological space for the fundamental transformation of America’s regime.
Every American and every political leader — from the local school board to the national legislature — must start thinking creatively and acting aggressively to deny the 1619 Project legitimacy and efficacy. What is at stake is nothing less than the dissolution of America.Abraham Lincoln once said that if America were to be defeated, it would be by suicide from forces within rather than by conquest from without. The 1619 Project is the latest manifestation of an ideology that will destroy us from within — if we don’t sound the alarm and act.
Ryan P. Williams is publisher of the Claremont Review of Books and president of the Claremont Institute, where Matthew J. Peterson is vice president of education.

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