It is increasingly clear that the 1619 Project, foisted on the American public in August by the New York Times, was ill advised. Fatuous, tendentious and tedious, 1619 is more advocacy than history, and is intended mainly to stoke the woke and to keep race on the front burner in the upcoming 2020 elections.
No close observer of the Times over the past few years would have expected otherwise, for in its domestic coverage it reads at times more like a Midtown edition of the Amsterdam News than a national newspaper of record. While still indispensable in some ways, its editorial slant and, indeed, news coverage have become unmoored. Three years of Donald Trump (and the prospect of four more) will do that to some liberals — and liberal organs, too, as a look at the 1619 Project will attest.
The value of the Project’s interpretation of American history, with apologies to Churchill, is this: never has so little been owed by so many to so few.
Major scholars have already weighed in on the egregious problems in various parts of the Project, including luminaries such as Gordon Wood and Sean Wilentz on the Revolutionary era and James McPherson on the antebellum era and the coming of the Civil War. So here I will focus my attention on the early period of American history, including the year 1619. What we find is an overriding interpretative architecture characterized by mischaracterizations, elisions and distortions, a ‘presentist’ ransacking of the past, manufacturing a fake history for use today.
The thing to remember is, they’re bad, broken people, who turn their problems outward. They bully others because, deep down, they know they’re awful themselves.