It is common knowledge that the founding of America is a mixed bag. The values upon which the country was built represented the loftiest of aspirations of a burgeoning free society. But the institution of slavery served as a striking reminder that even many of the nation’s founders did not live up to the ideal.
It is this reality that The New York Times claimed they wanted to bring to the forefront when they launched Project 1619. This initiative is designed to reframe the telling of American history and center it on the “peculiar institution” of slavery.
But is this a sincere effort to highlight the role of American slavery in the evolution of the country? Or just a cynical ploy to support the current left-wing effort to make racism the focus of the 2020 election?
What Is the 1619 Project?
The New York Times recently embarked on a literary journey to observe the 400th anniversary of the genesis of American chattel slavery. In their magazine, the news outlet is including a series of essays and other works detailing the ways in which African slaves contributed to the formation of the US. “No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the years of slavery that followed,” they wrote.
Some of the writings included in the issue gave more insight into the history of slavery. Others just contributed to the “America is racist” narrative. While many of the important figures in the abolitionist movement were covered, it’s worth pointing out that there was much left out when it comes to the history of slavery in the US. Frederick Douglass, a former slave, is only mentioned twice in the entire series. WEB Dubois is only mentioned once, as are Harriet Tubman and Booker T. Washington.
The project includes works written by people with a genuine desire to discuss slavery. But it also seems to further a particular agenda.
An Honest Discussion? Or Political Pandering?
Many prominent conservative pundits vehemently lashed out at the project when it was announced. They instantly portrayed it as a cynical political trick to foment racial tensions. On the left, people defended the project, arguing that it is only designed to illustrate the role slavery played in the evolution of the American experiment.
The fact of the matter is that both sides are correct. There are those on the left with a legitimate desire to examine slavery without pursuing political ends. Like those who oppose removing Confederate statues, they wish to preserve history, and their work reflects a desire to ensure that this particular evil is not repeated.
But those on the right who see this as a political move are also accurate. In case you haven’t noticed, the progressive left, which was obsessed with the Russia collusion narrative only a few months ago, have gone back to their roots: pretending everything and everyone is somehow racist. The message being trumpeted by Democratic politicians and their friends in the press is one of rampant racism devouring America. The Grey Lady appears to be doing their part to spread the lie using this project. After all, they must make sure Trump doesn’t win in 2020, right?