1619 Project author: America ‘not an exceptional nation’; Curriculum widely adopted by U.S. schools

by WorldTribune Staff, September 10, 2020

The American Revolution was a “revolution of the elite” and the “elite white men” who fought for the nation’s freedom didn’t intend “for us to have a democracy,” the author of the New York Times 1619 Project said.

“I don’t think we’re an exceptional nation,” Nikole Hannah-Jones said in an address at Mount Holyoke College’s September Common Read Keynote event.

Nikole Hannah-Jones. / YouTube

“I think that’s ludicrous for any nation to make that claim, and we certainly cannot make that claim. We’re a nation founded on genocide, and chattel slavery, and classism, and gender discrimination,” Hannah-Jones said. “We’re not. We had exceptional ideas but we’re not an exceptional nation. But if you believe that, then your country can certainly withstand scrutiny.”

The Frederick (MD) News-Post reported that: “The Pulitzer Center helped turn The New York Times’ The 1619 Project — which received worldwide attention when it was published last year — into a curriculum that’s now taught in more than 4,500 schools nationwide.”

Asked if the U.S. would ever have a true democracy, Hannah-Jones responded that America at its “founding, did not believe in democracy.”

President Donald Trump said on Sept. 6 that the Department of Education is examining the use of the 1619 Project in schools, and warned that institutions that teach this alternative narrative of American history could lose federal funding.

The 1619 Project, which is based on the premise that American history began in 1619 when African slaves arrived in Virginia and that everything following this should be viewed through that lens, has been discredited by several historians.

Related: New York Times wins Pulitzer for ‘1619 Project’ that was debunked by historians, May 5, 2020

Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, introduced a bill in July which would deny funds to any school that uses the 1619 Project in its curriculum.

In a statement, Cotton called the project “a racially divisive, revisionist account of history that denies the noble principles of freedom and equality on which our nation was founded.”

In her Mount Holyoke address, Hannah-Jones also said it is a “fairytale” that “the demographic destiny of our country will turn us into a more interracial democracy,” adding that when “white people” start to “lose an American majority, they always found ways to hold onto power.”

Hannah-Jones cited examples of what she sees as “white people” maintaining “power,” including Stacey Abrams’ failed gubernatorial candidacy in Georgia, the Electoral College, and alleged voter suppression laws.

The 1619 Project author said that she didn’t have faith in democracy, especially since “an open white nationalist and misogynist” who has “led the most corrupt administration in the history of this country” can still win this November’s election.

“Large numbers of white Americans are willing to suspend democractic principles to maintain racial power, and we’re seeing that,” Hannah-Jones said, citing an unnamed study.

“Anti-Americanism has been used against black activists, black scholars, black journalists pretty much as long as we’ve been in this country,” Hannah-Jones added. “It’s that our efforts to have our full humanity and full citizenship and to call this country out for its hypocrisies is seen as anti-American.”

Hannah-Jones called history taught in schools “a nationalistic agenda” and that it’s “not about truth, it’s about giving us a shared sense of American exceptionalism and American identity and because of that you had to downplay genocide, you had to downplay what happened with chattel slavery, you had to downplay what happened to most marginalized groups.”

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