Skip to comments.Historians Say New York Times Gets History Wrong
Posted on 01/24/2020 4:45:19 AM PST by Kaslin
We live in history-making times. Not so much because of the impeachment trial going on in the Senate, which will make history only if it routinizes impeachments of impolite presidents when their opposition party gets control of the House, but because of what looks like an ongoing battle for control of the central narrative of American history.
That battle was opened back in August when The New York Times ran the first several articles of its 1619 Project. Named for the year when the first African slaves were offloaded in the dozen-year-old colony of Virginia, the central theme is that slavery and its effects are the central driving force in American history, the underpinning of everything from corporate capitalism to suburban sprawl.
The latest salvo on the other side comes from Princeton historian Sean Wilentz, writing in The Atlantic. Wilentz makes mincemeat of The 1619 Project lead Nikole Hannah-Jones' contention that protecting slavery was a main motive of the American Revolution, of her statement that Abraham Lincoln "opposed black equality" and of her avowal that blacks fought "alone" for equal rights after the Civil War.
Wilentz was also a co-signer of a letter to The Times lamenting factual errors in its articles, along with Brown University's Gordon Wood, Princeton's James McPherson and City University of New York's James Oakes. Wood is a premier historian of the American Revolution. "I don't know of any colonist who said that they wanted independence in order to preserve their slaves," he wrote in a separate letter to The Times' editor-in-chief, as reported by the World Socialist Web Site, which has taken an interest in the controversy. "No colonist expressed alarm that the mother country was out to abolish slavery in 1776."
McPherson, the leading scholar of the Civil War, said he was "disturbed by what seemed like a very unbalanced, one-sided account, which lacked context and perspective on the complexity of slavery." Oakes, a leading historian of Reconstruction, calls the idea that "slavery or racism is built into the DNA of America" one of several "really dangerous tropes." He adds: "They're not only ahistorical, they're actually anti-historical. The function of those tropes is to deny change over time."
Which helps explain why The 1619 Project makes short shrift of black leaders and their white allies who led successful fights to make enormous change. "One of the many odd things about the New York Times's '1619 Project,' on slavery," notes Steven Hayward, author of the two-volume "The Age of Reagan," "is that Martin Luther King Jr is barely mentioned (ditto Frederick Douglass)." Nor is there mention of A. Philip Randolph, organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, or the 1920s Harlem Renaissance.
Wilentz, McPherson and Oakes aren't conservative polemicists; Wilentz is a strong partisan Democrat and supporter of the impeachment of President Donald Trump. Their point is that The 1619 Project is inaccurate in many important respects -- on certain facts and, even more so, in the overall lesson it seeks to teach, as The Times promotes its use in schools.
As Wilentz told The Atlantic's Adam Serwer, "To teach children that the American Revolution was fought in part to secure slavery would be giving a fundamental misunderstanding not only of what the American Revolution was all about but what America stood for and has stood for since the Founding." Anti-slavery ideology was a "very new thing in the world in the 18th century ... there was more anti-slavery activity in the colonies than in Britain."
Or, as McPherson explains, every human society has had slavery, and the British Atlantic seaboard colonies were one of the first societies to spawn an anti-slavery movement, with several voting to abolish slavery in the first years of the republic.
One peculiar thing about The Times' effort to seize control of the central narrative of American history is that it comes just a few years after American voters elected and reelected an African American president. Barack Obama was only the seventh president (and only the third Democrat, after Andrew Jackson and Franklin Roosevelt) to win a majority of the popular vote twice in the 188 years it had been the primary means of determining electoral votes.
The election of Donald Trump has been taken by many of his critics, not least of whom is The Times, as the election of a racist by a racist country -- an irremediably racist country, if you take the view promoted by The 1619 Project. Slavery determines everything and always will. Serious historians criticize The Times' inaccuracies because they know that sometimes things can change for the better, and have changed for the better. We should not forget.
The New York Times is a tool. The legacy of it’s iconic name is being used, just as CNN was bastardized for agenda driven propaganda.
On it’s face, it would immensely arrogant for the NYT to think that they could just rewrite history. They may have one of the greatest names in legacy print, but even they can’t just write up changes to history and expect everything else to disappear down the memory hole.
...yet, they are a cog in a wheel. When the propaganda gets pushed institutionally, in schools and universities, the Time’s name is used to lend a false credibility to it all.
The NYT ALWAYS DO get history WRONG.
They’ve destroyed themselves for their ideology, many people just ignore the New York Times “news” articles anymore.
Go back and read the pre war original sources and it occurs to me it isnt really that clear just what many northerners were trying to keep out of the new territories. Blacks or slavery. Bestowing every northerner with superior moral virtue is probably a guaranteed mistake.
NYT...and WaPo, HufPo, USAToday, AP, Reuters, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, MTV, NBC, NPR, PBS...all Enemedia.
YEP & further, ANYBODY in 2020, who believes the “mainstream press” on any subject that is more controversial than the latest sports scores, can be accurately described in ONE word: CLUELESS.
The “mainstream press” has destroyed their own credibility & the majority of US adults no longer believe them.
The “1619 Project” should illustrate a reality and a value. That such deliberate fraudulent historical revisionism, and the inevitable attempts by its authors to silence critics of that revisionism, constitute an “opus of lies”. And that such an opus is inherently and perniciously evil.
Lies pushed forth which are designed to destroy the truth, and thereby eliminate what is good in this county, cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. These lies must be conclusively dis-proven and relegated to the cesspit of infamy where they belong. The “1619 Project” ranks in the depths with Holocaust denial in this regard. Something the New York Times knows something about, and was a participant in.
Our press needs to be on trial...
Our press colludes with the DNC.
Our press does quid pro quo with the DNC.
Our press lies and obfuscates in favor of the DNC.
Our press obstructs in favor of the DNC.
Our press fails to afford our POTUS the presumption of innocence.
Our press abuses its 1A right.
Our press carefully uses alleged in describing a black thugs murder charges, but not with our POTUS impeachment charges.
After we retake the House, I really hope to see The House Un-American Activities Committee resurrected.
Ignoring the anniversary of the creation of the House of Burgesses in favor of the anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans in Jamestown is like the focus on investigations of Donald Trump to divert attention from all the scandals of the Obama administration.
History and everything else.
Excellent map. Similar to the one at Ellis Island.
Begs the question - where did slaves eventually gain the best opportunity for upward mobility ?
They’re not doing such a hot job on the present either.
If black (they weren’t all black) slaves knew back then what free black U.S. citizens know now, they would kill to get here.
Some background on that history has been collected here:
certainly better than where they came from
In other news...
New York Times Says Historians Get New York Times Wrong
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