If you are like me, you know intuitively that the New York Times “1619 Project” is anti-American propaganda masquerading as truth-finding.
The thesis of the project is that slavery is the basis of the United States and that slavery is the source of “nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional.” It considers the Declaration’s self-evident truth that “all men are created equal” to be a lie perpetrated by hypocritical white men with a wink and a nod as they crushed black men, women and children under their feet.
The project can be seen as the theoretical underpinning of the slavery reparations movement, and it is of course much more than that. It is a knife in the gut of anyone who loves America — and particularly the idea of America, or shall we say the ideal of America. Like all leftist ideology it is one more attempt to undermine confidence in the innate goodness of mankind in order to win support for the idea that for us to reach our full potential we need an overseer, a wise protector who can steer us clear of the dark forces that will otherwise overwhelm us, and in this case, lead us to the evil of white supremacy.
Ironically, as you can see, the leftists are using the U.S. history of slavery — and our collective guilt over it — to steer good-hearted Americans like sheep in the slaughterhouse to another form of slavery — the willing surrender to political correctness and the regimen of totalitarian control to which it inevitably leads.
As I said at the beginning of this piece, it is easy to intuitively know that the “1619” thesis is a selectively informed manipulation of data for the purpose of pushing a political agenda. It is, however, not so easy for ordinary Americans such as myself to rebut that thesis with facts for the simple reason that we are not historians and don’t have the resources of a New York Times behind us to scour history books for evidence of the good intentions of our Founding Fathers and those who fought against slavery and for equality from 1619 through the Civil War and beyond.
That’s why I was so happy to read an essay by Timothy Sandefur at Reason.com today. According to his contributor’s note, Sandefur “holds the Duncan Chair in Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute and is the author of “Frederick Douglass: Self Made Man.'”
The title of his article tells you all you need to know about his rebuttal of the “1619 Proect”: “The Founders Were Flawed. The Nation Is Imperfect. The Constitution Is Still a ‘Glorious Liberty Document.‘”
I am recommending that all of my readers who are not themselves amateur or professional historians read Sandefur’s article to arm themselves with the many facts ignored by the Times that refute the thesis of the “1619 Project” that The United States is fundamentally tainted because of its acceptance of slavery at the time of its founding. The fact that Sandefur is a biographer of Douglass, the former slave who rose to become a prominent abolitionist and absolute patriot, certainly puts the author in a good position to counter the Times’ thesis:
Where the 1619 articles go wrong is in a persistent and off-key theme: an effort to prove that slavery “is the country’s very origin,” that slavery is the source of “nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional,” and that, in [1619 co-author Nikole] Hannah-Jones’s words, the founders “used” “racist ideology” “at the nation’s founding.” In this, the Times steps beyond history and into political polemic—one based on a falsehood and that in an essential way, repudiates the work of countless people of all races, including those Hannah-Jones celebrates, who have believed that what makes America “exceptional” is the proposition that all men are created equal.
For one thing, the idea that, in Hannah-Jones’ words, the “white men” who wrote the Declaration of Independence “did not believe” its words applied to black people is simply false. John Adams, James Madison, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others said at the time that the doctrine of equality rendered slavery anathema. True, Jefferson also wrote the infamous passages suggesting that “the blacks…are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind,” but he thought even that was irrelevant to the question of slavery’s immorality. “Whatever be their degree of talent,” Jefferson wrote, “it is no measure of their rights. Because Sir Isaac Newton was superior to others in understanding, he was not therefore lord of the person or property of others.”
Sandefur demonstrates brilliantly that the race-based ideology of the 1619 Project has more in common with the segregationists of the 1830s than the Founding Fathers of the 1770s.
That [the 1830s] was when John C. Calhoun, Alexander Stephens, George Fitzhugh, and others offered a new vision of America—one that either disregarded the facts of history to portray the founders as white supremacists, or denounced them for not being so. …
It was these men—the generation after the founding—who manufactured the myth of American white supremacy. They did so against the opposition of such figures as Lincoln, Charles Sumner, Frederick Douglass, and John Quincy Adams. “From the day of the declaration of independence,” wrote Adams, the “wise rulers of the land” had counseled “to repair the injustice” of slavery, not perpetuate it. “Universal emancipation was the lesson which they had urged upon their contemporaries, and held forth as transcendent and irremissible [sic] duties to their children of the present age.” These opponents of the new white supremacist myth were hardly fringe figures. Lincoln and Douglass were national leaders backed by millions who agreed with their opposition to the white supremacist lie. Adams was a former president. Sumner was nearly assassinated in the Senate for opposing white supremacy. Yet their work is never discussed in the Times articles.
Mind you, neither Sandefur nor anyone else who teaches the history of the United States can overlook the blot of slavery, nor the machinations employed by segregationists to justify their evil.
In 1857, Chief Justice Roger Taney sought to make the myth into the law of the land by asserting in Scott v. Sandford that the United States was created as, and could only ever be, a nation for whites. “The right of property in a slave,” he declared, “is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution.” This was false: the Constitution contains no legal protection for slavery, and doesn’t even use the word. Both Lincoln and Douglass answered Taney by citing the historical record as well as the text of the laws: the founders had called slavery both evil and inconsistent with their principles; they forbade the slave trade and tried to ban it in the territories; nothing in the Declaration or the Constitution established a color line; in fact, when the Constitution was ratified, black Americans were citizens in several states and could even vote. The founders deserved blame for not doing more, but the idea that they were white supremacists, said Douglass, was “a slander upon their memory.”
It is also Frederick Douglass whom Sandefur quotes in his title, calling the Constitution a “glorious liberty document” in refuting the slander that the Constitution protected or enshrined slavery.
I encourage everyone to not just read Sandefur’s article but to send it to anyone who might be prone to believe the half-truths of the 1619 Project, which are no doubt supposed to lay the groundwork for the newspaper’s avowed intention to paint President Trump as a racist.
My only regret about Sandefur’s article is that it does not footnote its many quotations from the champions of liberty, but with an internet search engine, you can easily track down the origins of each quote.
To read more of my columns about the Dishonest Media, the Deep Swamp, the failed presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and Trump’s war to restore American greatness, read my “Why We Needed Trump” trilogy. Part 1 is subtitled “Bush’s Global Failure: Half Right.” Part 2 is “Obama’s Fundamental Transformation: Far Left.” Part 3 is “Trump’s American Vision: Just Right.” They are available at Amazon in paperback or Kindle editions. Also visit Heartland Diary on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1FmrOF2TF-njRznqoU4yjA