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As early as September 2020, soon-to-be former President Trump formed a “1776 Commission” that was charged with the following small mission: Counter the New York Times’ 1619 Project; refute the entire field of critical racial theory; reverse the so-called “poisonous propaganda” currently produced by most history professors and educators; and promote what is called “patriotic education.” The commission’s report of 1776 appeared Monday – on Martin Luther King, JrDay! – and quickly made our morning fun with the bizarre list of names to be included in the “National Garden of American Heroes” a distant memory

I read the entire report in all of its two rooms after a period of time and I need a shower – no, a car wash. Historian David Astin Walsh, who wrote about 20th century American law Century writes, noted on Twitter: “The tone of the 1776 report was identical to a John Birch Society pamphlet” – and boy, do I feel like I am reading one? The document is a screed forwarded by an aunt poisoned by Fox and is best politely ignored. “I feel so uncomfortable bringing this mess to your attention,” wrote historian David Blight, speaking for us all / p>

Over the past four years, historian Twitter has been very well prepared to respond to Trump’s madness, and he has dutifully taken action. Torsten Kathke summarized the BIOS of the various commissioners and found only two people involved in American history related specialist knowledge Many are at the helm of far-right institutions like Patrick Henry College and the College of the Ozarks (that observation sparked an evergreen little sub-debate about whether the authors’ lack of expertise should matter) Next, Courtney Thompson went through the text Plagiarism identification software TurnItIn and found some passages that looked suspicious – and then determined that they were probably plagiarized themselves (This was confirmed Tuesday afternoon by Tina Nyugen of Politico) Did we mention that the thing has no style footnotes?

All of this collegial game was far more entertaining than reading this disgusting, confusing document, which is a long argument for the permanent innocence of white Americans The Basics: The ideas the country was founded on were good; In fact, they were and are perfect eternal truths. Therefore, no one who truly believed in these ideas could go wrong! (No racist bones here!) Hence, the fact that some of the founders privately said that they considered slavery to be evil and that people continued to be in bondage was not evidence of their hypocrisy, but of their inherent justice. Therefore, “the establishment of our republic ”(Yes, the word“ republic ”is certainly used in this document, even a dog whistle)“ The seeds for the death of slavery in America ”If it was a few decades before this“ plan ”gradually ended slavery to make it come true, then what? ” As for Native American history, this is a simple square square: it just ain’t no word here

The passive voice is trained in an attempt to explain everything bad in our history “Despite the determined efforts of the post-war Reconstruction Congress to establish civil equality for freed slaves,” the report says, “the postbellum South eventually developed to a system hardly better than slavery”What parts of Congress wanted civil equality? What parts of the government fought against it? Who made it in the South to“ transform ”into this terrible new“ system ”? These invisible actors just float around unnamed

The document makes a really overwhelming connection between the racist ideology of John C Calhoun – yes, this one! – and … wait for it … anyone who has ever argued that certain groups in America had it harder than others, or that membership in those groups penalizes Americans born today. “This is the most insidious paragraph of this tirade of 1776,” wrote Imani Perry, citing a passage describing how the civil rights movement, a good idea at the outset, was “almost immediately turned into” programs that contradicted the founders’ high ideals. “The movement’s worst sin, according to the authors, was this claim to” Group Rights “As Perry points out, this paragraph is made even more terrible by the (intentional? Unintentional? Who can tell!) Slip that writers make between the country’s founders and the civil rights movement – people who did not accept the ideals of the world’s original founders without criticizing them

The right-wing demonization of reformers who campaigned for public health, sanitation, and other improvements to everyday life during the Progressive Era isn’t new, but it’s terrifying to see it codified in an official document in time who seem to undo belief in the usefulness of science for the common good, dropping the prescriptions left and right.Identifying the Progressive Era as the time when everything went wrong is less obviously scandalous than the connection between John C. Calhoun and Civil Rights, But It Matters “Perhaps the biggest reference in the 1776 report is that he lists” progressivism “along with” slavery “and” fascism “in his lists of” challenges to American principles, “” emphasized Tom Sugrue. ” Time to rewrite my lectures to say that ending child labor and regulating meat packaging = Hitlerism ”

The progressives often believed in eugenics, as every historian knows and (hopefully) teaches. While in the cosmology of the commission the founders can be forgiven for preaching piety and practicing slavery, these complex progressives are beyond the pale. After all, they created ” a fourth branch of government, sometimes referred to as the bureaucracy or administrative state “In this way, they have also contributed to the country’s” high standard of living “which was praised elsewhere in the report – but that is neither here nor there

What’s scariest, the report is deeply patronizing – borderline dehumanizing – for anyone who disagrees with their vision of what American history is about. As part of the report, every American – not just today, but in the Over the Centuries – Who Doesn’t Believe This View of American History, Deceived by an Outside Force, or Just Corrupt and Powerful In a recent column for the New York Times, my former colleague Jamelle Bouie wrote about the longstanding project, every democratic one To delegitimize voting by claims of “election fraud” It feels like a parallel project and an insanely dangerous one. If there is no other belief in American history than this, what choice do we have?

What is a person who wants to speak publicly about America’s room for improvement? A citizen’s desire to improve his country’s record can be accepted, but only if the desire for improvement fits into certain parameters. The document honors right-wing movements by relating them to really good things that reformers have done ” There is room in the constitution for major changes and reforms, “the authors write.” Major reforms – such as abolition, women’s suffrage, anti-communism, civil rights and the pro-life movement – have often made advances that improve our engagement”blah, blah, blah What did I just read?

In a report calling John C, there is certainly much to be laughed about at Calhoun, “perhaps the leading precursor of identity politics,” leaving centuries of humanities science behind with an airy phrase that describes how we know which works philosophy, political thought, literature, history, oratorio and art are and should be “timeless” taught in schools: “Contrary to what is sometimes claimed, these works are not particularly difficult to identify” And it’s tempting to ditch all that wickedness that ends up in our rounds two days before inauguration when just one more bullet has dodged”

But some were cautious This report, Diana Butler Bass argued, was “a great gift” to white Trump evangelicals who have long taught this vision of history to children enrolled in Christian schools or home schooled Educator and historian Kevin Levin stated, “The fact that it was published by the White House gives this project an increased level of legitimacy. Those of us who work in history education ignore it at our own risk. Tom Sugrue added,” The The 1776 report will no doubt influence historical and social science education deliberations at the local and state levels, particularly in places where right-wing activists have taken over education policy, and Ananya Chakravarti shared a cautionary story in which she described how a loss of belief in evidence-based ones could be History and Science in Indi en has led to a “fundamental distrust of science and academic knowledge” over the past two decades ”

What can historians do about such a strong danger signal as the 1776 report? “More important than a comment in NYTimes,” said Chakravarti, “is creating a handbook for people to combat this report in the local school board election”” It’s a good reminder that Trump might be leaving tomorrow, but the fever swamp that gave us the 1776 report is going nowhere

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1776 report

World News – USA – Trump’s “1776 report” would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous