Conservatives Don't Want Their American Fantasy Spoiled By 1619 Project's Lying Reality
The New York Times published the 1619 Project this weekend and conservatives don't need to actually read the damn thing to know it's single-handedly destroyed all the racial harmony Donald Trump restored when he made America great. We've gone from "Ebony and Ivory" to "Kill the White People." It's a national tragedy.
Ilya Shapiro at the Cato Institute scolded New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie over his interest in history that isn't as benign and politically sanitized as Woody Allen's version of New York.
Sure, the United States is "mankind's grandest experiment in human liberty and self-governance." Domino's is also mankind's grandest experiment in pizza. Give them a couple hundred years and they might come close to something edible. How are you supposed to react to Shapiro's ridiculous statement as a black man or a woman of any shade? We were never the control group in this "experiment" in liberty.
If discussing slavery and its impact on America is "divisive," we should stop celebrating the Fourth of July. Why remind people who are enjoying The Beatles and "Doctor Who" that the British were once our enemies? What good can come of it? There's something especially gross and racist about proudly declaring how "unwoke" you are to a black man when dismissing our history as "grievance-mongering." Slavery is also more than a "wart" -- a benign, non-cancerous growth -- on the reality of America. Slavery destroyed lives. It's not a superficial, unsightly blemish that you cover up or remove on an outpatient basis. Shapiro isn't truly interested in "reality."
Newt Gingrich, who'd own slaves today if he could, denounced the 1619 Project as a "lie" and said slavery should be "put in context." Unless there's a dominatrix present and slaves could leave with a safe word, the only "context" is terrible.
GINGRICH: Look, I think slavery is a terrible thing.
Glad you're on our side, Newt.
GINGRICH: Certainly if you're an African American, slavery is at the center of what you see at the American experience. But for most Americans, most of the time, there were a lot of other things going on. There were several hundred thousand white Americans who died in the Civil War in order to free the slaves.
White people also died to keep black people slaves. We know because of all the convenient statues. Conservatives constantly reframe history for their own ends. They demand that we consider slave owners like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson in the context of the times -- when apparently black people enjoyed working for free -- but they never fail to shut up about the supposed white supremacy of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger. They argue that despite her other achievements she's not worthy of commemoration because of how racist she was. It's apparently not "divisive" for conservatives to drag Sanger -- probably because they have this gruesome video of Sanger threatening a teenage girl and pressuring her to have an abortion on demand.
The Doctor put it best: "The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don't alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit their views, which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering." Black Americans and our history are the uncomfortable facts that contradict the American myth conservatives cling to so dearly. There's never been a point in US history where that's not the case. Malcolm X argued that what distinguished America from other racist countries or outright dictatorships was hypocrisy: America preached "liberty and self-governance" but practiced racial tyranny and oppression.
Shapiro (surprisingly, not Ben) offers a merry-go-round of circular logic. America is the greatest country that ever existed so black people shouldn't complain that America was also a slave state like other common crap holes. If Shapiro could manage to see black people, he'd recognize that while slavery was our greatest tragedy, it also produced some of our greatest triumphs. You can't appreciate the achievements of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass without the full context of the brutal world in which they lived. Escaping slavery wasn't a Jack Kerouac novel. But Shapiro thinks slavery isn't worthy of the solemn historical vow "never again." It's more like "that again?"
Besides, how can America be racist when black people are in so many singing groups and sports teams?
The 1619 Project is important at a time when white people visit Southern plantations -- sites of human misery and exploitation -- and complain that there were no reenactments of scenes from Gone with the Wind.
It wasn't "Song of the South."Washington Post
The weather?Washington Post
Narcissists tend to possess exaggerated feelings of self-importance, excessive need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. Conservatives would call this patriotism. When their inflated self-concept is threatened, they isolate themselves and respond with outbursts of defiant rage. Conservative reactions to the 1619 Project have followed this predictable pattern.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.