We’ve talked before about the New York Times’ Pulitzer-Prize-winning work, The 1619 Project. The 1619 Project is the “real” history of slavery and race in America, how slavery was codified and institutionalized, and how the centuries of slavery still affect our modern institutions and modern politics. The 1619 Project was a big deal when it came out, and in the past two years, many schools have added the teaching materials to their curriculum. And ever since the project came out, white Republicans have been BIG MAD about it. Salty AF. Tom Cotton recently threw a massive hissy about schools using the 1619 Project curriculum, arguing that all kids have to learn is that slavery was a “necessary evil,” end of story. Well, if you thought Donald Trump was going to miss an opportunity to tell white people that liberal schools are teaching their precious white children about radical black history, you would be mistaken.
President Donald Trump on Thursday accused Democrats, educators and members of the media of attempting a “liberal indoctrination of America’s youth” through alternative views of the nation’s past.
“Our mission is to defend the legacy of America’s founding, the virtue of America’s heroes, and the nobility of the American character,” Trump said during what aides billed as the first “White House Conference on American History.” While Trump called for “patriotic education” and a “pro-American curriculum in the nation’s schools, opponents cast the president as a struggling re-election candidate who is seeking votes by trying to divide people along racial and cultural lines. Trump focused his attack on education projects devoted to the nation’s history of slavery and racial discrimination, analysts pointed out, targets that have been the focus of ire from many pundits on the right.
“Donald Trump’s political career has been defined by stoking racism and hatred,” said Josh Schwerin of Priorities USA Action, a political action committee that supports Democratic candidates. “This is all about trying to use racism to incite the fringes of his base who he thinks can help him win an election.”
In his education speech, Trump attributed street violence in part to schools, claiming that “the left-wing rioting and mayhem are the direct result of decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools.”
Speaking at the National Archives, near an original of the U.S. Constitution, Trump protested the pulling down of historic statues – many of which depict slaveholders – and the “desecration” of national memorials. Princeton historian Kevin Kruse tweeted: “As near as I can tell, the White House Conference on American History panel was drawn up with no input from professional historical associations, filled mostly with non-historians & culture warriors, and kept so quiet it wasn’t even on the National Archives’ calendar of events.”
Danie Dale did a thread of quotes from Trump’s speech, which is my preferred mode of “listening” to Trump’s inane Nazi speeches. Apparently, Trump said it’s “child abuse” to teach children critical race theory, and that he’s establishing the 1776 Commission to… I don’t know, teach White History, probably (all history in America is White History, btw). So, yeah, congrats to all of us here in America. Trump wants a radical whites-only re-education program which will turn all of y’alls kids into Hitler Youth.
The White House Conference on American History has not a single Black historian on it. Strange.
— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) September 17, 2020
Photos courtesy of Getty.
There will be little about slavery or the genocide of Native Americans or the Labor Movement that ended child labor and established workers’ compensation, workplace safety, and minimum wage laws. Women’s suffrage will be a footnote about how nice white Republican men let women vote with no mention of the strife that went before it or the struggle for equality for decades after. Civil rights will be limited to a mention of Rosa Park riding a bus and MLK making one speech. The Civil War was fought for state rights by honorable men. LGBTQ people don’t exist and have no history.
Winners always decide history and if Trump wins again, America officially has no way back.
If Trump wins again, the USA ceases to exist.
Sierra, you are so right, this is the thing that terrifies me. This is it. I worry we may slide right back into this in 2024 anyway, but if we lose in Nov, we are lost forever.
@Darla, yes but by 2024 it will be too much damaged done. And the Republicans would have found new ways to ensure they will always win for them on.
If Trump wins in November, there will be no election in 2024. Self-crowned Queen Nagini won’t allow it.
If Trump wins, this will be the end of free elections. There won’t be a 2024 election. This will be the end of democracy in the US.
No I meant, that even if Biden wins in Nov, I feel it may only be a 4 year reprieve. And I agree if trump takes office again in Nov (i don’t feel he can win, but I do believe he is doing everything to fix it, along with Barr), then it ends here. That’s it. I will spend 2021 planning and then launching my exit to Toronto. Assuming we are permitted back in by then. Don’t forget, Trump has made American SO great, we’re not allowed to leave it. No one else wants us. Trump has turned America into Hotel California. We can check out any time we’d like, but we can never leave.
It does, but it will take decades to bring ourselves back, much like how it took Germany to get over their past… the thing that worries me though is that America is much more isolated from the world and it’s such a big country. It is not unimaginable that perhaps one day it may split. This country is so young, it is a miracle it stayed in one piece this long.
@Pandora – we haven’t gotten over our past. It’s a constant process, as it should be, to educate each and every generation about what happened and how it came to pass. It’s too easily forgotten (ignored?) how we gave up our humanity and mistreated and killed so many people.
If he wins in November we are done.
And don’t forget that “great big beautiful” wall of his can work both ways. It can keep people out and it can keep us from escaping. No one is going to want to come here anyway anymore.
I’m Canadian, but I went to middle school in Pittsburgh, so I took a lot of American History. It always struck me just how sanitized the school version of history was. Slavery was discussed as a bad thing, but in a vague, detached way. Like “slaves had no rights and were sometimes mistreated”. That’s about it. And “MLK had a dream and we got the civil rights act”.
Which is basically like saying the Holocaust was about putting Jews in labor camps and many died. I mean, yes, kind of, bit that captures about .0001% of it.
Pittsburgh schools aren’t even that bad compared to others. I grew up in the South but moved north to PA in my teens, and the quality difference in the education was just staggering unless you were one of the wealthier areas. I was top of my classes down south, and I was actually behind when I moved up to Pittsburgh. Even then, it wasn’t until I was a senior that we even covered things like Japanese interment and the like. Taking college history classes was like ???? how did we not talk about this???
@Larak – you are right about how the Holocaust is taught in the US and that’s partly why we see scary af stuff happening. We all know the horrific end results of Hitler’s reign of terror and hatred but we don’t focus at all as to how it got that bad and how could that many Germans support him? We learn about 1939 and then how America “saved the day.” I didn’t really learn about the build up to 1939 until undergrad. It’s important to know how he got into power in order to reassure that doesn’t happen again. But here we are.
I can’t say it wasn’t any less sanitised in Canada when I was in grade and high school. We heard the name Riel once for less than 5 minutes, residential schools weren’t mentioned at all, slavery was an American problem, Indigenous Peoples were “integrated”, not colonised, and John A MacDonald was HERO, full stop. 99% of my Canadian history was Britain and France battling over territory here with “Indian” allies. I could go on. I suspect (hope) it’s better now.
Nationalist Propaganda …. If Biden doesn’t win, the US is so screwed
And so the slide into facism begins
I’m waiting for Trump’s “25-point plan.” All the racists/republicans in America will LOVE it.
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. He blusters, barks and rages, signs executive orders. We’ll have one heck of a lengthy article on what was all talk and no results. Anything he does or attempts to do will be nullified. We’re working toward and doing our best to be certain votes are counted.
But our history is already whitewashed. How can you restore what already is? Anyway, rest assured–you can’t throw together a national curriculum in a matter of weeks.
I really love the Common Core (I know everyone hates it) because it’s a thing of beauty close up. Top level professionalism. Must’ve taken years to develop. This is fun, though! China also develops national curriculum for the purposes of political propaganda. So this is in keeping with our 2020 theme: the White House Criticizes Beijing and then Does the Same Thing.
Are you joking about Common Core? It’s a total scam propagated by the Betsy DeVos and her cronies. I have kids across the schools-elementary through college-and Common Core is TERRIBLE. It was developed by the test taking companies not teachers. University professors are already starting to see the effects of how ill prepared these kids are in math.
Common Core was developed long before Trump took office.
@Esmom-right it got rolled out here in CA about five years ago. Trump actually said during his campaign that he would get rid of it-it was the one thing of his I was hoping he would follow through on. But alas-nope. Betsy DeVos is there and we’re stuck with it.
Common Core was developed in 2009. It has nothing to do with Betsy DeVos, sorry. Take a deep dive into ELA learning outcomes plus appendices. It’s a godsend.
What people don’t like is MAP testing. I get that. But the coherency and comprehensiveness of the learning outcomes is beautiful. If you don’t grasp that, you either haven’t worked in education or haven’t worked in it long enough.
If the collective at large believes in teaching only positives, from particular perspectives, we are indeed royally frakked. I did, however, enjoy watching interviews last night slicing and dicing shit stain’s words and the locale he chose to deliver them. He properly incensed the right people, and it was magnificent.
Erase or alter history, and we’re dead. Mindless dogs.
When viewing history through a modern lens is always going to look strange. But let history be factual. Your heros are not perfect. Learn from the past, and then not repeat it. Slavery was real. Our forefathers had slaves, or even if vocal against it they didn’t push hard enough to end it and let slavery continue. Because of the system that was built many groups of people have been abused and marginalized. All of this is real. Kids need to know. I doubt our forefathers intended to be thought of a saints. They were just men who did an incredible feat – but not perfect.
Too right. And are we sure how we’d behave at a time in history when our knowledge was but a fraction compared to now? Being raised in a masculine-controlled, faith-based society and familial homes with hardly room to breathe on our own? I’ve often thought about taking my mouth on a time machine as I watched different scenarios play out. I’d have been severely punished, dead, burned, chastised and ridiculed. Tolerance back then was hard to locate.
Shades of Nazi Germany. Next they will be burning books outside the reichstag and arresting intellectuals. I knew this was coming because the republicans are always on about “liberal education” and “liberal indoctrination”. They want to keep the population ignorant and needful. Sheep.
This is why I’m grateful for my education and for my masters. They can never take that away from me.
I guess DT is all in on serving to the online troll crowd, pro “free speech” dumdums
People who say rioters or looters have been indoctrinated in public schools clearly have never set foot in a public school.
This is already taught in schools. We learned very basic things about slavery, the Civil War, and the Civil Rights Movement. (Disclaimer: I did go to school in Florida, so there’s that too). It wasn’t until I was out of school and started reading on my own that I found out how much I had not been taught, and how much of what I had been taught was the very white-washed version.
Virginia went full-on Lost Cause with their history curriculum. I’m a Gen X kid who learned that it was The War Between the States, and that it was a valiant struggle for states’ rights – not a reckoning over Black slavery (caused, incidentally, by the utter failure of our founders in just about every way that we are STILL dealing with).
The fact that my two high schoolers were stunned by this when I told them gives me at least a little bit of hope. We’re obviously moving in the right direction, or the racist, fear mongering knowledge haters wouldn’t be frothing at the mouth so.
I’m a mother of 3, living in a very blue dot in a very red state. We’re taking a socially distanced, hella masked road trip through the Alabama Civil Rights trail next month, and we’ve already talked as a family about Claudette Colvin, the Birmingham Children’s Crusade, Bloody Sunday, etc. He can try to put the white horse back into the barn, but as long as parents are willing to educate their kids that white supremacy isn’t just in grainy black and white footage – that it’s very present and very contemporary – he can’t win. We won’t let him.
At what point can we say America is no longer working? Can we break into two countries, a blue one and a red one? Let the States vote on which country they want to belong to, and then elect separate leaders?
Black and brown Americans have been asking that question for a very long time.
Typical Trump (and Stephen Miller – you can bet he had a hand in this).
It also ticks me off how this Fascist in Chief is using all of OUR places and landmarks in DC as part of his promotional scheme. It’s like he’s running around marking it all as his.