One of the defining characteristics of left-wing progressives is an inclination to misinterpret the character of the American people. Their persistently false belief that a critical mass of citizens is prepared to embrace full-strength collectivism leads to a consequent refusal to accept the broad unpopularity of their deconstructionist worldview. This in turn leads to an inability to effectively capitalize on those moments when one of their most passionate causes comes to the attention of the American people. And this week’s release of yet another volume centered around the most explicit manifestation of critical race theory, further stirring the pot of racial animosity, exacerbates an already serious problem.
Indeed, the mark of any political movement is how it behaves in times of crisis, when the opportunity for good or ill presents itself. In the summer of 2020, progressives who long cried out for police reform had a genuine opening to demonstrate the seriousness of their cause following the killing of George Floyd. Previously disengaged or disinterested Americans suddenly stood at rapt attention. But instead of consolidating the newfound support of this suddenly enlarged mass of citizens appalled at the spectacle of Floyd’s slow-motion death into constructive, long overdue rectification of festering problems with law enforcement, they chose to support the savage insurrectionists burning down urban America. It was progressive influence that led not to calls for widely popular reforms such as a national database tracking complaints of police abuse but to a typically absurd, one-step solution from these supposedly intellectual quasi-Marxists: defunding the police. They have been paying a steep price for it ever since but seem not to even realize it.
The AOC-inspired socialists holding sway in today’s Democratic Party have their heads so far in the clouds that, like Saturday Night Live’s infamous thing that wouldn’t leave, they cannot, or will not, understand when their message has long overstayed its welcome. Even after putting a full-court press on the feckless Joe Biden, watching progressives take a beating at the hands of conventional liberals in one primary after another, followed by the carnage of Election Day 2021, they still act as if their cause is widely popular. But in fact the elections revealed a steep decline in approval for the ideas of a group already on the margins, constituting by most reasonable estimates less than 20% of the American electorate.
But now, in the immediate aftermath of the stinging rebuke of progressive policies delivered by voters this year, along comes the exquisitely timed release of a sequel to the original book on the “long-form journalism endeavor” known as the 1619 Project — cleverly titled The 1619 Project. It is critical race theory 2.0, placed in narrative form with an expanded apologia for its twisted foundation. And this time, there is a companion book for children — titled “The 1619 Project: Born on the Water” — undoubtedly coming to a public school near you.
This is another one of those initiatives that would be relegated to the realm of outlandish conspiracy theories had it not been granted credence by big corporate media. It was introduced to the world by the radicalized New York Times, cowardly to a fault in refusing to challenge the nakedly malignant premise of the project and book: that America was founded for the purpose of perpetuating slavery.
And so we should hardly be surprised when the creator of the 1619 Project, the race-obsessed leftist academic Nikole Hannah-Jones, was greeted as some sort of conquering hero and thrown one softball question after another — more like hitting off a tee — by a slobbering Robin Roberts on ABC’s Good Morning America. The obvious goal of this “journalist” was to mainstream a woman who has helped launch a race war in this country: “there are many people that look at you and see you as a symbol of strength and truth, but you know you have your critics as well … how can we have as a nation a discussion about race that moves the discussion forward?”
Excuse me, but isn’t race about the only thing we’ve been discussing over these last months and years?
Hannah-Jones writes off opposition to her project as the product of, what else, racism: “You can do all the things we’re told we need to do to be successful and in the end, as a black woman, you can still be denied.” Sure, the rejection of this scandalous revisionist history had to do only with the color of her skin, and nothing to do with her warping of America’s founding and heritage.
But as they denounce a culture they claim is still riven by racism in every corner, the purveyors and enablers of the 1619 Project continue to almost entirely ignore the defining slice of four years in the midst of the four centuries since the “real” founding of Slavestate America in 1619. And that “news blackout” by itself relegates their theory to the ash heap of history. So let’s remind them.
The Civil War. Let me repeat that, Civil War. And one more time for emphasis, Civil War, the only war in the history of civilization fought to end slavery. A war that took the lives of some one million souls on the battlefield and beyond, comparable to a death toll of ten million today. But Hannah-Jones chose to base her theory only on the years of slavery before the war and Jim Crow after the war — as if 1860 to 1865 are to be minimized, ignored, or recontextualized to no longer be considered significant. And as if the presence of historic and residual racism was unique to the United States of America.
The refusal of progressive deconstructionists to recognize not only the sacrifice but also the historically unique purpose of the war renders, by itself, the entirety of the 1619 Project as dishonest and fraudulent. But as long as this progressive heresy, like so many others, is given oxygen by left-wing media running cover for teachers’ unions and academic Marxists, more of these toxic volumes will be written and continue to poison the impressionable minds of rising generations.
~ Read more from Tim Donner.