I don’t know of anyone who skewers the subversive antics of the American left as savagely, yet as elegantly, as Roger Kimball. In this article for the New Criterion, Roger trains his guns on the New York Times’ 1619 project.
That project is, in the words of the Times, an effort to “reframe [America’s] history, [by] understanding 1619 [when the first slave ships arrived here] 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.” In other words, it’s an effort to persuade Americans that they are citizens of a country that is, and always has been, evil.
Roger shows that Dean Baquet, the Times’ Executive Editor, launched the 1619 project as a result of the collapse of the Russia collusion narrative the paper peddled for two years:
Last summer, [Baquet] huddled with his staff in a town-hall-style meeting—the proceedings of which were promptly leaked—and acknowledged a sad truth: “We built our newsroom to cover one story” (the now-debunked story that Donald Trump had “colluded” with Russia to steal the 2016 election).
The story didn’t pan out. “Now we have to regroup,” Baquet told the assembled troops, “and shift resources and emphasis to take on a different story.” What story? Henceforth, or at least “for the next two years”—the remainder of Trump’s first term—the Times was going all in on “race, and other divisions.”
In other words, the Times couldn’t bring down Trump by harping on Russia, but maybe it can bring him down by harping on race. Or at least, in the process of trying, make Americans hate their country.
The problem with the 1619 project is that, like the Russia collusion hoax, it is delusional. Says Roger:
[The 1619 project is] a stupefying race-based fantasy about the origins of the United States. The lead essay, by the black journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, the “architect” of The 1619 Project, set the tone. “[O]ne of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain,” she wrote, “was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery.”
So, everything you learned about the American Revolution is wrong, or at least wrongheaded. Forget about the Stamp Act, the, Boston Tea Party, the Intolerable Acts, “No taxation without representation,” etc. All that, utterly unmentioned by Ms. Hannah-Jones, was mere window dressing.
The American colonists might talk about liberty. What they really cared about, according to this malignant fairy tale, was preserving and extending the institution of slavery. “[S]ome might argue,” as Hannah-Jones coyly puts it, “that this nation was founded not as a democracy but as a slavocracy.” Gosh.
Of course, “some might argue” any number of incredible things: that the earth is flat, that the moon is made of green cheese, that The New York Times is still a responsible source of news and even-handed commentary. The fact that “some might argue” X does not mean that X is credible.
The ravings of the 1619 project are not credible. In fact, they are too fanciful even for socialists:
[S]ome of the most vigorous rejoinders appear in the World Socialist Web Site, which has run long interviews with two deans of the history of the American Founding, James McPherson and Gordon Wood, neither of whom were consulted by the Times for The 1619 Project. McPherson, though eminently circumspect, concludes that The 1619 Project is
a very unbalanced, one-sided account, which lacked context and perspective on the complexity of slavery, which was clearly, obviously, not an exclusively American institution, but existed throughout history. And slavery in the United States was only a small part of a larger world process that unfolded over many centuries.
Wood concurs and notes further that the idea, propounded by The 1619 Project, that the American Revolution was fomented in order to protect slavery is simply ridiculous. On the contrary, “it is the northern states in 1776 that are the world’s leaders in the antislavery cause. . . . The Revolution unleashed antislavery sentiments that led to the first abolition movements in the history of the world.”
The 1619 Project pretends that the British were great crusaders in the campaign against slavery. But Wood points out, first, that the “British don’t get around to freeing the slaves in the West Indies until 1833,” and, second, that “if the Revolution hadn’t occurred,” they “might never have done so then, because all of the southern colonies would have been opposed. So supposing the Americans hadn’t broken away, there would have been a larger number of slaveholders in the greater British world who might have been able to prolong slavery longer than 1833.”
Roger concludes his take down of the 1619 project on a mildly optimistic note:
The 1619 Project represents a new nadir in the politically correct, anti-American machinations of The New York Times. Many sober observers would have dismissed it as beneath comment were it not that the residual prestige of the Times lends currency if not credibility to its illiterate and partisan contentions.
Perhaps an unintended collateral benefit of this malign folly will be—finally, at last—to dissolve the vestiges of that prestige and expose the paper to the condign contempt of the public whose trust they have so extravagantly betrayed.
Let’s hope so. It is either the Times’s standing or America’s.