Douglas Andrews / Jul. 28, 2020

Is Tom Cotton Picking on the 1619 Project?

It’s bad history, and it shouldn’t be taught in our schools.

Let’s start by calling The New York Times’s revisionist “1619 Project” what it is: rotten history, as agreed upon by many of our nation’s leading historians.

But why stop there? It’s also racially divisive and spiritually corrupting, especially in its effort to rewrite our nation’s founding from 1776 to 1619, the year the first slaves arrived in what were then the American colonies. Worst of all, the project may be coming to a school near you. But not if Tom Cotton has his way.

Last Thursday, the junior senator from Arkansas introduced legislation that would remove federal funding from schools that saw fit to allow the abomination into their classrooms. “The New York Times’ 1619 Project,” said Cotton in a press release, “is a racially divisive, revisionist account of history that denies the noble principles of freedom and equality on which our nation was founded. Not a single cent of federal funding should go to indoctrinate young Americans with this left-wing garbage.”

Cotton also warned that schools and districts around the country have begun incorporating the 1619 Project into their curricula, including those in Chicago, Newark, Buffalo, and Washington, DC.

So at a time when a little bit of racial reconciliation could go a long way, the young and malleable students in these majority-black schools will be fed a steady drip of anti-white poison from the mind of a New York Times journalist and vile racist named Nikole Hannah-Jones, whose contributions to constructive racial discourse include this gem: “The white race is the biggest murderer, rapist, pillager, and thief of the modern world.”

But don’t take her word for it. Instead, consider the words of some of our nation’s leading historians: It’s “a very unbalanced, one-sided account,” said Princeton professor James McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom, perhaps the definitive history of the Civil War. “It has the authority of the New York Times behind it, [and yet it’s] so wrong in so many ways,” said the eminent Revolutionary War historian Gordon Wood. And it’s “not only ahistorical,” but “actually anti-historical,” said Civil War historian James Oakes.

Perhaps the project’s most vicious lie is about the raison d'etre of the American Revolution. As The Washington Times put it, “Mrs. Hannah-Jones applies her argument to Revolution, claiming that the colonists fought for independence on the grounds that an America untethered from Britain would allow the institution of slavery to flourish. This assertion is so wrong, so factually inaccurate, that leading historians … of both conservative and liberal persuasions systematically went through her research and found no evidence supporting her contention.”

This eight-minute video offers a deeper dive into the shoddiness of the 1619 Project, but suffice it to say that Senator Cotton is on solid ground in opposing the project as a historical resource. And this might help explain why he’s under such withering (albeit dishonest) fire from the Left for a comment he made recently — a comment that has since been whipped into something it never was.

“We have to study the history of slavery and its role and impact on the development of our country,” said Cotton, “because otherwise we can’t understand our country. As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built, but the union was built in a way, as Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction.”

As National Review noted, however, “Media outlets and journalists then stripped Cotton’s quote of all context to make it appear that he endorsed slavery as a necessary evil in general, rather as an evil necessary to the consolidation of the union specifically.” Which he didn’t.

If the mainstream media wants to argue that Cotton is defending slavery, they’re telling us a lot more about themselves than they are the good senator from Arkansas.

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