Header Ads

Historians Tell NYT: Your 1619 Project Is Wrong. NYT: Take A Hike.

On Friday, The New York Times, in its inestimable arrogance, published a response by its editor-in-chief rejecting the claims of five noted historians that the Times’ 1619 project, which is intended to be used to inform the education of schoolchildren across the country and is an attempt to paint the founding of the United States as built on slavery rather than freedom, contained factual errors.
The historians started by writing:
We write as historians to express our strong reservations about important aspects of The 1619 Project. The project is intended to offer a new version of American history in which slavery and white supremacy become the dominant organizing themes. The Times has announced ambitious plans to make the project available to schools in the form of curriculums and related instructional material. 
The historians even recycled the leftist talking point of slavery being an “enduring centrality of slavery and racism to our history” before criticizing the “factual errors in the project and the closed process behind it.” They noted “the project asserts that the founders declared the colonies’ independence of Britain ‘in order to ensure slavery would continue.’ This is not true. If supportable, the allegation would be astounding — yet every statement offered by the project to validate it is false. Some of the other material in the project is distorted, including the claim that ‘for the most part,’ black Americans have fought their freedom struggles ‘alone.’”
The historians continued, “Still other material is misleading. The project criticizes Abraham Lincoln’s views on racial equality but ignores his conviction that the Declaration of Independence proclaimed universal equality, for blacks as well as whites, a view he upheld repeatedly against powerful white supremacists who opposed him. The project also ignores Lincoln’s agreement with Frederick Douglass that the Constitution was, in Douglass’s words, “a GLORIOUS LIBERTY DOCUMENT.” Instead, the project asserts that the United States was founded on racial slavery, an argument rejected by a majority of abolitionists and proclaimed by champions of slavery like John C. Calhoun.”
The historians concluded, “We ask that The Times, according to its own high standards of accuracy and truth, issue prominent corrections of all the errors and distortions presented in The 1619 Project. We also ask for the removal of these mistakes from any materials destined for use in schools, as well as in all further publications, including books bearing the name of The New York Times. We ask finally that The Times reveal fully the process through which the historical materials were and continue to be assembled, checked and authenticated.”
Jake Silverstein, the Times’ Editor-in-Chief, responded to the charges by claiming, “While we welcome criticism, we don’t believe that the request for corrections to The 1619 Project is warranted.” He continued by citing the 1619 Project’s creator, Nikole Hannah-Jones, a staff writer at the magazine. 
Silverstein protested, “We did not assemble a formal panel for this project. Instead, during the early stages of development, we consulted with numerous scholars of African-American history and related fields, in a group meeting at The Times as well as in a series of individual conversations …  our researchers carefully reviewed all the articles in the issue with subject-area experts.”
He admitted, “We can hardly claim to have studied the Revolutionary period as long as some of the signatories, nor do we presume to tell them anything they don’t already know, but I think it would be useful for readers to hear why we believe that Hannah-Jones’s claim that ‘one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery’ is grounded in the historical record.”
Silverstein spends a great deal of time citing the “landmark 1772 decision of the British high court in Somerset v. Stewart,” which he claims “caused a sensation nonetheless. Numerous colonial newspapers covered it and warned of the tyranny it represented. Multiple historians have pointed out that in part because of the Somerset case, slavery joined other issues in helping to gradually drive apart the patriots and their colonial governments.” He quotes one historian saying, “The black-British alliance decisively pushed planters in these [Southern] states toward independence.” Silverstein’s contention that the British were more advanced on the subject of slavery ignores the fact that not only did the Declaration of Independence pronounce all men were created equal in 1776, eight states, including Massachusetts and Pennsylvania in 1780, Connecticut and Rhode Island in 1784, Vermont in 1786, New Hampshire in 1792, New York in 1799, and New Jersey in 1799, passed anti-slavery acts before Great Britain abolished slavery in 1833.
Silverstein then cites the 1775 Dunmore Proclamation, issued in late 1775, which offered freedom to any enslaved person who fled his plantation and joined the British Army, then writes a “member of South Carolina’s delegation to the Continental Congress wrote that this act did more to sever the ties between Britain and its colonies ‘than any other expedient which could possibly have been thought of.’” Yet Silverstein ignores the obvious point that South Carolina’s delegation that signed the Declaration of Independence would not do so until Thomas Jefferson’s original clause, which ripped King George III over slavery and stated, “He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither,” had been stripped from the Declaration. 
Silverstein rips Abraham Lincoln, snidely remarking the the public “tends to view Lincoln as a saint,” before noting his evolution on the subject of slavery, then adding, “To be sure, at the end of his life, Lincoln’s racial outlook had evolved considerably in the direction of real equality. Yet the story of abolition becomes more complicated, and more instructive, when readers understand that even the Great Emancipator was ambivalent about full black citizenship.” For a clearer picture of Lincoln’s own opposition to slavery and his own well-thought out plan to eradicate, Silverstein might want to read Harry Jaffa’s immortal book, “Crisis of the House Divided.”
Silverstein writes, “And while our democratic system has certainly led to many progressive advances for the rights of minority groups over the past two centuries, these advances, as Hannah-Jones argues in her essay, have almost always come as a result of political and social struggles in which African-Americans have generally taken the lead, not as a working-out of the immanent logic of the Constitution.”
Silverstein may not know that the famed abolitionist Lysander Spooner, who was white, wrote in his 1845 book, “The Unconstitutionality of Slavery,” that the Preamble of the Constitution supported liberty for all slaves, arguing that it “does not declare that ‘we, the white people,’ or ‘we, the free people,’ or ‘we, a part of the people’ — but that ‘we, the people’ — that is, we the whole people — of the United States, ‘do ordain and establish this Constitution.’” He continued, “Because the whole people of the country were not allowed to vote on the ratification of the Constitution, it does not follow that they were not made citizens under it; for women and children did not vote on its adoption; yet they are made citizens by it . . . and the state governments cannot enslave them.”
But Silverstein must be aware that hundreds of thousands of Union soldiers, predominantly white, were killed or wounded in the Civil War in order to eradicate the evil of slavery.. For years, it was assumed that at least a massive total of more than 360,000 Union soldiers died; in 2011., historian J. David Hacker wrotein Silverstein’s own New York Times that the number was likely higher than that.

2 comments:

  1. Yes, slavery existed from ancient times, in every area of the world. America endured slavery even as it fought for independence. The Founding Fathers had great difficulty with justifying a war for freedom, which did not include all of those living in the 13 colonies.
    DeTouqueville in his book describing America in 1830 saw that America was divided over this, and predicted that the nation would see great struggles in solving the problem of half of the states being slave states.
    He was correct. The issue of this great stain on our country would have to be solved. The best thing about America then, is that we as a nation were willing to fight a great war to end the inhumanity of slavery. We got rid of it ourselves, no outside power had to come and force us to end slavery. America would suffer, many Americans would die, but we rid the nation of slavery on our own! To claim that only blacks achieved this is false, many whites in both the north and south fought and preached and taught and would be successful in ending slavery. This is actually one of the most noble acts of our nation, and it fulfilled the ideals and dreams of the founding fathers. What the NYT has produced is a untruthful analysis of history, which is aimed at racially dividing the country once again.
    And realize, that slavery still exists in many parts of the world. Why doesn't the NYT do a series on this? Focus its considerable power of the press on the sad truth. The reality is, only slavery of blacks, owned by whites, has been eliminated from the globe.

    ReplyDelete
  2. First man to die in the war in independence was black, research it, most people did not own slaves, slavery was a prerogative of the wealthy. Slavery was not based on race, it was based on business. Slavers tried to use Native Americans, it didn't work they ran away, they tried Irish and poor whites from England, mostly in the form of indentured servitude for an extended period. It was easy for the whites to run away and blend in as they looked the same as their masters. Africans were much easier to enslave as they found it difficult to run away and hide, they had no tribe they could run to, they could not blend in easily.
    It did turn into a racist problem over time because no society then or now is perfect.
    In a sense, slavery has never left us it just became institutionalized for all. In our present day there are jobs that do not even support individuals in renting a room!
    And if you think, well you have a choice, well try not to follow the rules to survive, you will end up locked up and put there at the point of gun, the governments gun, or waste away living on the streets.

    ReplyDelete