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Douglas Andrews / November 3, 2020

Trump Establishes 1776 Commission

Fighting against the destructiveness of our current America-hating approach to history.

Earlier today, we wrote about Joe Biden’s physical and mental unfitness for office. In doing so, we contrasted his tired and pathetic campaign with that of President Donald Trump, whose bid for reelection finished with an eye-popping 14 rallies in seven states in three days.

But the president has been doing more than just campaigning. He’s also been governing and delivering on his promise to make America great again. Yesterday, he signed an executive order on Establishing the President’s Advisory 1776 Commission. The first paragraph of the order spells out the purpose of the commission: “in order to better enable a rising generation to understand the history and principles of the founding of the United States in 1776, and, through this, form a more perfect Union.”

As Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, reports, “The text is longer and more substantive than typical presidential EOs. It offers sharp criticisms of current educational trends, a definition and explanation of patriotic education, as well as a vision for how to realize it. Following Trump’s remarks at the White House Conference on American History, the president was criticized by some on the left both for favoring a simplistic view of patriotism and for trying to force a curriculum on schools in violation of local control. This EO refutes both criticisms.”

As to those “current educational trends,” none could be more emblematic of what ails our nation than the New York Times’s historically dubious 1619 Project, which pushes back the founding of our nation from 1776 to the year when African slaves were first brought to the then-British colonies in America. With that perversity firmly in place, the project then proceeds to argue that the scourge of slavery is, to this day, the defining incident in our nation’s history.

Our resident historian, Lewis Morris, has been tracking the 1619 Project since its introduction. As he wrote in February, “Despite the criticism The New York Times has faced, the rag continues to push the 1619 Project, which, unfortunately, has been embraced countrywide by thousands of schools. When Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson called upon the Times to issue a correction regarding its claim that the Revolutionary War was fought to maintain slavery, New York Times Magazine editor Jake Silverstein refused. He responded, ‘Historical understanding is not fixed; it is constantly being adjusted by new scholarship and new voices.’ Spoken like a true leftist.”

Brown University Economics Professor Glenn Loury, himself a black man, was even more blunt. “The idea that the specter of slavery still determines the character of life among African Americans is an affront to me,” he said. “I believe in America, and I believe in black people. Something tells me … the 1619 Project authors don’t. They don’t believe in America … and I’m sorry to have to report, I get the impression they don’t believe in black people.”

The Times’s Nikole Hannah-Jones is the driving force behind the far-reaching falsehood that is the 1619 Project and, not surprisingly, she won a Pulitzer Prize for it. Of course, this says a lot more about the Pulitzer committee’s political bias and its lack of seriousness than it does about the merits of Hannah-Jones’s narrative fiction.

The “Purpose” section of the president’s EO defines our nation’s founding and history as “a political order in harmony with the design of ‘the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,’ seeing the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as embodied in and sanctioned by natural law and its traditions.” The EO then takes dead aim at the ahistorical anti-American screeds that are polluting not only our classrooms but the minds of our children.

“In recent years,” the Order states, “a series of polemics grounded in poor scholarship has vilified our Founders and our founding. Despite the virtues and accomplishments of this Nation, many students are now taught in school to hate their own country, and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes, but rather villains. This radicalized view of American history lacks perspective, obscures virtues, twists motives, ignores or distorts facts, and magnifies flaws, resulting in the truth being concealed and history disfigured. Failing to identify, challenge, and correct this distorted perspective could fray and ultimately erase the bonds that knit our country and culture together.”

Nor does the order shy away from the issue of race beyond the sad but ultimately redemptive chapter of American slavery. “These one-sided and divisive accounts too often ignore or fail to properly honor … our country’s valiant and successful effort to shake off the curse of slavery and to use the lessons of that struggle to guide our work toward equal rights for all citizens in the present. Viewing America as an irredeemably and systemically racist country cannot account for the extraordinary role of the great heroes of the American movement against slavery and for civil rights — a great moral endeavor that, from Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King, Jr., was marked by religious fellowship, good will, generosity of heart, an emphasis on our shared principles, and an inclusive vision for the future.”

The commission, once formed, will be tasked with producing a report for public dissemination about the core principles of the American founding, advise the president and executive departments and agencies with regard to ensuring “patriotic education,” and prioritize these efforts through federal grants and initiatives. Clearly, there’s a lot of work to do. But the establishment of the 1776 Commission is a good place to start. No nation can long endure without the love and affection of its citizens. We’ve been teaching our children to revile these United States, and we need only look to our streets and our toppled statues to see the fruits of this folly.

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