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.