But I began feeling uneasy a few minutes into reading the lead essay, by the project’s chief contributor, the journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, and then I read a key paragraph so fallacious and dogmatic that it hit me between the eyes. With a tone of absolute assurance, flagging the matter as crucial, the essay informed readers of what it called a „fact“ – a fact „conveniently left out of our founding mythology“ – specifically 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.“5The 1619 Project was widely praised, and is now taught in schools.
I instantly wondered how anyone even lightly informed about the history of either slavery or the American Revolution , could write that sentence. Unfortunately, the ensuing explanation only made matters worse. The British, the essay claimed, had grown „deeply conflicted“ over slavery, and the British government was facing rising calls to end the Atlantic slave trade – a reform that would have „upended“ the entire colonial economy, not just in the South. For that reason – the essay mentioned no other – the American colonists, North and South, believed that the British posed a threat to slavery, an institution they desperately wanted to protect. Rather than run the risk of losing slavery, the colonists declared their independence. The Revolution was supposedly, at its core, a reactionary, proslavery struggle to fend off abolition of slavery by the British.6
The paragraph covered subjects of unsurpassed importance and it was historical gibberish.
I wonder if the whole thing is counterproductive. Everyone agrees that the American Revolution was a great thing, and brought freedom and prosperity to the world. If it were really based on slavery, then wouldn't that make slavery a good thing?
When no letter appeared and no other historians spoke up, I decided to address the matter myself in a public lecture I delivered in November, which would later appear on-line in the New York Review of Books. Only after the lecture did I learn that four highly distinguished historians – three of them old friends and colleagues, the fourth a scholar I greatly respected – had already been giving interviews to an online forum called the World Socialist Web Site, a Trotskyist venue, taking The 1619 Project seriously to task for its false statements about the Revolution and much more.This is amusing that the last honest historians have to publish on a Trotskyite web site.
It struck me as a little odd that these well-known historians – none of them socialists as far as I knew, let alone Trotskyists – would appear in such a relatively obscure place. Surely, I thought, one of the leading academic journals would have given them a platform. As it happened, only the intellectually honorable Trotskyists…had the nerve to undertake a systematic critique of The 1619 Project….
As I understand it, the Troskyites are all about class conflict, not racial conflict. They see racial conflict as a distraction, so they are eager to debunk false narratives about race. Well, somebody should hold these NY Times propagandists accountable.
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