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I felt vindicated for my early attacks on the 1619 Project when I learned that the National Association of Scholars signed a letter that directed the Pulitzer Prize Board to revoke its award of the Prize to The 1619 Project. But my appreciation of the news was short-lived.
The NAS acted nobly in criticizing the 1619 Project. As they said in their letter to the Board:
We call on the Pulitzer Prize Board to rescind the 2020 Prize for Commentary awarded to Nikole Hannah-Jones for her lead essay in ‘The 1619 Project.’ That essay was entitled, ‘Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written.’ But it turns out the article itself was false when written, making a large claim that protecting the institution of slavery was a primary motive for the American Revolution, a claim for which there is simply no evidence.
They went on to say:
The duplicity of attempting to alter the historical record in a manner intended to deceive the public is as serious an infraction against professional ethics as a journalist can commit. A ‘sweeping, deeply reported and personal essay,’ as the Pulitzer Prize Board called it, does not have the license to sweep its own errors into obscurity or the remit to publish ‘deeply reported’ falsehoods.
And finally, the Times changed its digital version but did not make the change public:
Beginning almost immediately after its publication, though, the essay and the Project ran into controversy. It has been subjected to searching criticism by many of the foremost historians of our time and by the Times’ own fact checker. The scrutiny has left the essay discredited, so much so that the Times has felt the need to go back and change a crucial passage in it, softening but not eliminating its unsupported assertion about slavery and the Revolution.
Many of us would recognize the signatories to the letter that included, Larry P. Arnn, President of Hillsdale College; Victor Davis Hanson, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution; Roger Kimball, Editor and Publisher; Wilfred M. McClay, historian at University of Oklahoma; and a Ricochet contributor, Paul Rahe, Professor at Hillsdale College.
Although President Trump has called for schools that teach the 1619 Project to be defunded, many schools have been using the curriculum for months, particularly in California and the Chicago Public Schools. Dr. Janice Jackson, CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, offered this statement:
‘The stories we tell about our nation’s history matter deeply, and the 1619 Project offers us a new set of stories by ‘placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are’ through a collection of essays, stories, poems, and photography that marks the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery,’ Jackson wrote.
‘As educators, we are always looking for new tools and strategies to help students contextualize the world around them so they may one day become informed and effective citizens,’ the CPS CEO said.
No one except the NAS seems particularly concerned that this curriculum is false, deceptive, and misguided. This story is just another example of the anti-American propaganda that has been taught in our schools for years.
Maybe President Trump will begin the process of holding the schools accountable for teaching the truth.
Or is it too late to make a difference?Published in