Is ‘Intellectual Cowardice’ Stopping Historians From Condemning The 1916 Project?

Memorial Day is intended to honor the sacrifices of soldiers who fought and died for American values like freedom and equality.

Washington Depicted at Valley Forge

But the new race narrative being promulgated by the New York Times’ The 1619 Project effectively rejects this concept with respect to the Revolutionary War.

The Biden administration is promoting the teaching of The 1619 Project, which claims America’s real founding year was 1619, the year African slaves arrived in Virginia, instead of 1776, the year the Declaration of Independence was signed.

The central tenet of the project, which is being distributed in curriculum form by the Pulitzer Center at Columbia University to schools around the country, is that Americans fought the Revolutionary War to protect slavery and slavery has been at the heart of everything America has done since then.

False Narrative

It seems to matter not that Gordon Wood, the premier historian of the American Revolution; James McPherson, the dean of Civil War historians; and Sean Wilentz of Princeton University say there is absolutely no evidence that slavery was a factor in the Revolutionary War. “I don’t know of any colonist who said that they wanted independence in order to preserve their slaves,” said Wood.

McPherson, a prominent Democrat, said every human society has had slavery but America was one of the first to spawn an anti-slavery movement.

Wilentz says there was more anti-slavery ideology in early America than in Britain.

So how did the false 1619 narrative gain such a firm foothold in public consciousness?

Intellectual Cowardice

Jason Riley, a senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute and a member of The Wall Street Journal editorial board, has a theory that makes a lot of sense. He said Sunday the vast majority of historians and other experts have failed to counter the false narrative due to “intellectual cowardice.” Riley says they have been cowed into silence.

While applauding those few historians like Wood who did speak up, Riley said “not nearly enough” experts who have studied and written books about America’s founding have defended historical integrity. “I find it very, very disturbing,” said Riley.

Riley, who is African American, says the “least interesting thing about America might be slavery.” He notes that slavery existed for thousands of years prior to America’s founding and has touched every society down through the ages. Riley says America is exceptional because it eradicated the institution of slavery.

“What is remarkable about America is not its slave past; it is emancipation that makes America remarkable. This idea that you can put slavery at the center of America’s founding and teach that to our children is fraudulent.”

Jason Riley

A dozen GOP states are taking steps to pass state laws to thwart the teaching of critical race theory and The 1619 Project. These states are facing withering criticism from Democrats and the mainstream media. They are being called racist and accused of whitewashing slavery out of American history.

Meanwhile, the 1619 Project editor, Nikole Hannah Jones, a journalist, continues to push the series flawed premise. In marketing copy for a new book that is being published by Penguin Random House, Jones calls America’s system of chattel slavery “unprecedented.”

Jones and actress Oprah Winfrey are also integrating the 1619 Project into multiple feature films, TV series, and documentaries.

A new political action committee was launched last week, The 1776 Project PAC, to “abolish” anti-American curricula from U.S. classrooms with the hope of  “[reforming] our public education system by promoting patriotism and pride in American history.”

Maybe next year we can all celebrate the hardships endured by America’s early settlers who took up arms and fought a long and costly war to win America’s independence from Great Britain.

An estimated 6,800 Americans were killed in action, 6,100 were wounded, and more than 20,000 were taken prisoner. It is estimated 17,000 died from diseases like smallpox and typhus in unsanitary, cold, damp quarters. Instead of slandering their motives, America should pay homage to their sacrifice.

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