As 2020 starts, a PC propaganda campaign called the “1619 Project”
is taking hold in American news media, university faculties, and K-12 public
school curricula. The New York Times Magazine published the original batch of
articles on August 14 of last year, and the ramrod of the project was a
reporter named Nikole Hannah-Jones. A Times writer named Mara Gay characterized
the campaign this way: “In the days
and weeks to come, we will publish essays demonstrating that nearly everything
that made America exceptional grew out of slavery.”
The central claim of the “Project” is that United States, uniquely among all the nations on Earth, was founded on, and shaped by, the evil of slavery. The name comes from the claim that the first black slaves to arrive in North America were brought in August of the year 1619, exactly 400 years before the publication of the first “Project” articles. As a result, says Hannah-Jones, “Anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country,” with the implication that such deep racism does not stain any other nation the way it stains the US. The Times wants us to identify the United States so strongly with slavery that 1619, rather than 1776, will be viewed as the year of the nation’s true founding.
“How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.” Abraham Lincoln
In describing the history of the Civil Rights Movement, left-leaning college professors tend to portray it as a battle between liberals and conservatives. The principle of equal justice for all is depicted as something that only liberals believed in. Anyone who supported segregation is described as “conservative.” Professors, in other words, give all the credit for ending institutionalized racism to people like themselves.
Facts that undermine this viewpoint, plentiful as they are, rarely show up in mainstream history books.
“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” Vladimir Lenin
America as a whole has a two party political system, with each party typically getting the support of about half the nation’s voters, but things are different on college campuses. University professors are an extremely partisan bunch; they vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party, and do all they can to influence their students to vote the same way. The word “diversity” may be a popular catchword on campus, but there is very little diversity in evidence when it comes to political opinion.
History professors, and the textbooks they write, sometimes go to extremes to make their own party look good, and the hated Republican Party look bad. One of the more egregious examples of this partisan bias is the way mainstream history textbooks misrepresent the roles of the respective parties in the debate over the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
“Prejudice is free but discrimination has costs” Thomas Sowell
Two earlier HistoryHalf posts addressed the relationship between slavery and economic progress, or lack thereof, in the United States. One post makes the case that standard textbook portrayals of black slavery as an important underpinning of American economic growth are false. The other post describes the slave system as an economic liability that destined the South to lose the Civil War.
This week’s post is about the continued economic backwardness of the states of the old Confederacy during the Jim Crow era, and the explosion of productivity and profit that the Southern states have enjoyed since the Federal Government brought a forcible end to racial segregation.
“America; where people do not inquire concerning a stranger ‘who is he,’ but ‘what can he do?’” Benjamin Franklin
Last week’s post included quotes from several college history textbooks, all of which claim that America’s fantastic economic growth was achieved, during the nation’s first few decades, by the ruthless exploitation of slave labor. While it is certainly true that slaves were ruthlessly exploited in our nation’s early history; it is not at all true that the slaves, their white exploiters, or the lands they farmed were the real drivers of America’s economic growth.
From the time the nation was founded the real wealth creation happened almost exclusively in the Northern states, where slavery was never very common, and where it was made illegal early. The rapid growth in productivity and prosperity that made America the envy of the rest of the world was made possible by legal and cultural conditions unique to the Northern “free” states. The Southern states lagged behind (as did the rest of the world) because Southern culture was hostile to all the things that made the North thrive. It also happens to be true that many of the North’s leading entrepreneurs were passionate abolitionists.