Political Editors / August 5, 2021

In Brief: NYT’s 1619 Project Whitewashes Democrat Racism

Nikole Hannah-Jones’s deeply flawed revisionist yarn makes no mention of the Democrat Party’s racist past.

From its inception, Nikole Hannah-Jones’s 1619 Project has fancied itself as a racial reckoning, as a historical corrective to the assertion that the American Experiment began in 1620 with the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, or in 1776 with the Founding Fathers at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. Instead, this work of revisionism claims that it all began in 1619, when the first slave ship, an English privateer called The White Lion, arrived on the shores of colonial Virginia. And, along the way, Hannah-Jones tells us that the American Revolution was fought over slavery, and that enslaved blacks were on their own when it came to fighting for their freedom.

This is all rubbish, of course, and so are the efforts of The 1619 Project to whitewash the racist past of the Democrat Party. As Mark Hemingway of RealClearInvestigations writes:

Democrats who advanced a bill in June to remove statues of white supremacists from the U.S. Capitol ignored a central fact about those figures: All of them had been icons of their party, from Andrew Jackson’s adamantly pro-slavery vice president, John C. Calhoun, to North Carolina Gov. Charles B. Aycock, an architect of the white-supremacist campaign of 1898 that ushered in the era of Jim Crow.

At a time when governments, sports teams, schools and other bastions of American society are rushing to expunge legacies of slavery or racism, this was another instance of the Democratic Party’s failure to acknowledge that it did more than any other institution in American life to preserve the “peculiar institution” – and later enforce Jim Crow-style apartheid in the Old South.

Hemingway peppers his essay with examples of racist Democrats who went oddly unmentioned in The 1619 Project, including “progressive” President Woodrow Wilson and former Klansman and Senator Robert Byrd. Hemingway continues: “In the essay texts, the Democratic Party is named only three times, in passing. The Republican Party, the political entity formed to fight slavery, also receives little mention. But when the GOP is mentioned, it is excoriated as the 21st century heir to 19th century racist ideology.”

Hemingway concludes by quoting author Jarrett Stepman, who writes: “[Nikole Hannah-Jones] produced a partisan polemic and left out anything in the historical record that wouldn’t help her make the case. They’re trying to shape how people think about our past so that what happens going forward will of course follow a particular liberal agenda. … This is a travesty of history, and the fact that it’s being taught in high schools is rank partisanship. Believe me, I would rather be doing other things than correcting her errors, but the fact that her errors are being printed as gospel and sold as gospel, that’s a problem. It’s a problem for civic education, and it’s a problem for our cohesion and our unity as a nation.”

Read the whole thing here.

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