Yesterday, speaking to the "White House History Conference," Donald Trump announced his plans for the "1776 Commission" — a national commission to promote patriotic education in schools, to ensure that school children get taught America is the super greatest country on earth and the only country with freedom and the only country where everyone's dreams can come true, and other assorted bullshit. This is meant to be a response to the 1619 Project, which aims to tell children a correct, warts and all, version of our founding and history that includes a realistic understanding of slavery and racism.

He said:

Our mission is to defend the legacy of America's founding, the virtue of America's heroes, and the nobility of the American character. We must clear away the twisted web of lies in our schools and classrooms, and teach our children the magnificent truth about our country. We want our sons and daughters to know that they are the citizens of the most exceptional nation in the history of the world.

To grow up in America is to live in a land where anything is possible, where anyone can rise, and where any dream can come true — all because of the immortal principles our nation's founders inscribed nearly two and a half centuries ago.

In terms of social mobility, America ranks 27th out of 82 countries. That's not actually very good. But they need to perpetuate this myth in order to maintain order and not have to deal with people asking for too much. As long as people believe they can pull themselves up by their boostraps, as long as they believe they are the only ones at fault if they don't, they won't bug the ruling class about things like fair wages and health care.


It's not surprising that he would like for children to be taught that, to be taught that America is the greatest nation on earth and has always been right about everything always. It's a lot harder to get people to die for a country that, like every other place on earth, is flawed.

This is actually how things used to be. The American history kids were taught in grade school was not so much about actual American history as it was about teaching children patriotic propaganda meant to turn them into compliant citizens who would believe in our system and be willing to die for our country. If they did learn the real shit, it wasn't until college, and probably only if they actually majored in history or other social sciences.

It's become a lot less popular over the years to do that. It's become embarrassing. And now, with the internet, it's basically impossible. Children can Google. And if they're getting taught that America is the most perfectest, bestest country on earth in school and then learning that their teachers are full of shit ... what is that going to do for their trust in our education system?

Trump is trying to claim that teaching accurate history and critical race theory — which he clearly does not understand and describes as toxic propaganda — will "dissolve the civic bonds that tie us together."

Critical race theory, the 1619 Project, and the crusade against American history is toxic propaganda, ideological poison that, if not removed, will dissolve the civic bonds that tie us together. It will destroy our country.

That is why I recently banned trainings in this prejudiced ideology from the federal government and banned it in the strongest manner possible.

The only path to national unity is through our shared identity as Americans. That is why it is so urgent that we finally restore patriotic education to our schools.

Ironically, it will likely do just the opposite.

Part of the reason shit has hit the fan in the way it has is because prior to social media, you had a situation where a whole lot of white people were able to go about their daily lives assuming everything was fine, that America was super great, that racism was basically over except for a few weirdos who sometimes popped up on talk shows whom we could all collectively agree were obviously bad, that when people were poor it was their own damn fault for being lazy — after all, they'd have to be, in a country where it's possible for anyone to rise up.

Then we all got smushed together here on the internet, and they got the shock of their lives finding out that people affected by racism still considered racism to be a problem, that police brutality was still a problem when the last time they'd even heard about it was with Rodney King. Hell, men found out that women didn't like being catcalled and spent at least two goddamned years writing pained thinkpieces about "How could possibly this be?" Concepts that many liberal leaning people had been learning about in college since the early '90s at least — white privilege, male privilege, intersectionalism, systemic racism, critical race theory, as well as the dirtier parts of American history — were suddenly being publicly discussed on social media. And while some people adjusted just fine, many reacted to this onslaught of information like a Scientologist finding out about Xenu before getting to Operating Thetan Level 8.

If you will notice, a lot of these people have gone right off the freaking deep end. They couldn't deal. Now they're off worshiping an anonymous troll on 8kun, imagining that the United States government is involved in a satanic child trafficking ring, and joining up with white nationalist groups who promise to give them back the sense of nationalism and patriotism that they lost when they found out how other people actually felt. Maybe teaching people the actual bad things the US government has done could keep them from imagineering their own?

It's not good. It's not good for men not to know that women are pissed about sexism and sexual assault, it's not good for white people not to know that Black people are pissed about racism. If children grow up understanding this, if they grow up understanding America's flaws and wanting to work to do better, wanting to work to make sure we don't continue the mistakes of the past, maybe we actually will get around to having a country we don't have to lie to children about in order to get them to feel "patriotic."

Also, the "White House History Conference" seems to be full of pretty bad historians, we just wanted to mention.

[Whitehouse.gov]

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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