There is real racism in the United States. It is objectively true that white supremacists have been emboldened these last few years and it is objectively true that President Trump’s rhetoric has played a part even if he has not intended it to. In my opinion, his rhetoric often plays a part because of how the media twists his words and mischaracterizes them, i.e. his references to criminals crossing the border did not apply to all Mexicans; his reference to “animals” applied only to MS-13 murderers; and other examples.
It is also objectively true that many of the President’s critics behave in ways they claim only he behaves and it is objectively true there are plenty of people on the left who benefit by continually stoking racial tensions in the United States.
It is also objectively true that slavery was this nation’s original sin. But it is also true that hundreds of thousands of people spilled their blood on the Union Army side as propitiation for that sin.
Into this wades the New York Times with its 1619 Project. It is a worthwhile endeavor designed to educate Americans about slavery and the role it has played in the new world. Unfortunately, the New York Times is ill prepared to do it justice in large part by handing it over to a group of opinion writers who profit from stoking and fueling racial grievances. To understand the 1619 Project, you really need to read this transcript of a meeting of writers at the New York Times.
The inmates have taken over the asylum and those inmates are re-writing American history to make everything about race, racism, and slavery.
At the outset, I should note there are some worthwhile reads. But the paper starts out with this:
No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the years of slavery that followed. n the 400th anniversary of this fateful moment, it is finally time to tell our story truthfully.
And then states this:
It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.
The Times has set about inserting race into everything and demanding we all see race in everything. 1619 is our “true founding.” No, actually, historically that is not true in any way shape or form.
In fact, the House of Burgesses convened in Jamestown, Virginia on July 30, 1619, before any African had set foot on the North American continent. The Mayflower pilgrims landed in New England in 1620, completely separated from those in Jamestown, with different goals, views, values, and priorities. It is also worth noting that white indentured servants outnumbered slaves and arrived before slaves. Quibble all you want with the distinctions, but in 1619 they were roughly treated the same — terribly on all counts.
To make it all about slavery is to ignore that there were already Europeans in North America before the first slave arrived and there were Europeans arriving in America in different locations quite apart from where slavery was. For a project that claims truth for itself, it is deeply untrue to truth and reality. The pilgrims in Massachusetts in 1620 were not exactly a group of slave holders as they were setting up shop, forming modes of government, and adopting private property and capitalist meta-structures to avoid failures from collective farming.
In fact, in 1623, still well before slavery made it into pilgrim settlements, the Plymouth Plantation abandoned communal property rights in favor of private property rights and a system of free enterprise. (See William Bradford’s On Plymouth Plantation”)
The 1619 Project by the New York Times is as flawed as it would have you believe the country’s founding was. It seeks to divide, not heal. It seeks to give power and primacy to those who think the nation’s founding was premised on evil and demands that those who disagree be silent. It seeks to embrace the Neo-Confederate world view of a South that actually won the Civil War by weaving itself into the fabric of post war society so it can then discredit the entire American enterprise.
Capitalism itself comes under assault with claims that “in order to understand the brutality of American capitalism, you have to start on the plantation.” Read the essay and you too will be left wondering just where the person comes up with these skewed interpretations.
In fact, it is in that very essay that the New York Times seems to adopt the neo-confederate world view that the South itself won the Civil War and then embedded into post-war society.
Those searching for reasons the American economy is uniquely severe and unbridled have found answers in many places (religion, politics, culture). But recently, historians have pointed persuasively to the gnatty fields of Georgia and Alabama, to the cotton houses and slave auction blocks, as the birthplace of America’s low-road approach to capitalism.
Yes, undoubtedly the Union, having wiped out the South, decided to employ Southern slave related economics after the war. Undoubtedly.
Then there is revisionism about American politics. It is a left-wing rallying cry these days that the Senate is illegitimate. And, naturally, we get just that in an essay that gets basic facts wrong.
The debt-limit standoff was a case study of a fundamental change within the Republican Party after Obama took office in 2009. Republicans would either win total victory or they would wreck the system itself. The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, used a variety of procedural tactics to effectively nullify the president’s ability to nominate federal judges and fill vacancies in the executive branch. In the minority, he used the filibuster to an unprecedented degree. In the majority, after Republicans won the Senate in the 2010 midterm elections, he led an extraordinary blockade of the Supreme Court, stopping the Senate from even considering the president’s nominee for the bench.
Actually, the GOP did not take back the Senate in 2010. It was in the years between 2010 and 2014 that the Senate Democrats scrapped the filibuster for judicial nominations to begin an Obama era court packing scheme that the Democrats bungled. But you’d never know that from the New York Times, which puts nursing racial grievance above reality.
On and on it goes.
One would never know that 365,000 white union soldiers were killed on battlefields to end the Civil War and another 275, 200 soldiers were wounded or fell ill. Only in the last decade have the total war deaths of Americans in all wars combined equaled the loss of live in the Civl War.
But none of that matters to the New York Times.
This really could have been an amazing and immense narration on the history of slavery in North America. Instead, it begins as a declaration of truth and immediately begins twisting facts to shape narratives.
Slavery is the original sin of this nation. But this nation has done more to lift people out of tyranny and improve the lives of its own citizens than any other. The New York Times and its race-mongers would have you believe none of that and instead embrace grievance.
We should circle back now to the transcript of the inmates at the New York Times and their meeting with the editors. Here is what Dean Baquet said:
The day Bob Mueller walked off that witness stand, two things happened. Our readers who want Donald Trump to go away suddenly thought, “Holy shit, Bob Mueller is not going to do it.” And Donald Trump got a little emboldened politically, I think. Because, you know, for obvious reasons. And I think that the story changed. A lot of the stuff we’re talking about started to emerge like six or seven weeks ago. We’re a little tiny bit flat-footed. I mean, that’s what happens when a story looks a certain way for two years. Right? I think that we’ve got to change. I mean, the vision for coverage for the next two years is what I talked about earlier: How do we cover a guy who makes these kinds of remarks? How do we cover the world’s reaction to him? How do we do that while continuing to cover his policies? How do we cover America, that’s become so divided by Donald Trump? How do we grapple with all the stuff you all are talking about? How do we write about race in a thoughtful way, something we haven’t done in a large way in a long time? That, to me, is the vision for coverage. You all are going to have to help us shape that vision. But I think that’s what we’re going to have to do for the rest of the next two years.
This gives away the real truth — said behind closed doors.
The New York Times is doing this because Bob Mueller didn’t take out Donald Trump. Now the Times thinks it can leverage racial tensions and divisions in the United States to do it.
Americans, particularly white Americans, need to learn more about slavery in the United States. But doing so on the premise that the United States itself is flawed and illegitimate is not the way to do it. Sadly, that’s what so much of the Times’ coverage amounts to.
If the nation is founded on slavery and slavery is woven into the very fabric of our society, then our society is illegitimate. The only way to overcome it is to overturn it. That would take revolution. This is the path the New York Times goes down. Once it lights this fire, it will not be able to control it. But it wants to strike the match anyway.