The Ridiculous Attacks on the 1776 Report
By DAVID HARSANYI
January 19, 2021 5:12 PM
Declaration of Independence, by John Trumbull (John Parrot/StockTrek
This week, the White House released its 1776 Report, a much-needed
corrective to the historical revisionism that’s infected not only our
media, but, far more destructively, our high schools and universities.
It’s a straightforward patriotic document; the kind of reading that
would be a useful civics lesson for the average citizen, immigrants
taking a citizenship test, or certain professors in Princeton’s history
These days, anyone or anything that refuses to depict the American
founding as anything but a wholly racist enterprise will be cast as a
tool of white supremacy. And so it was.
Maegan Vazquez, a reporter at CNN, asserted that the “Trump
administration issues racist school curriculum report on MLK day.”
Vazquez offers only one specific instance to buttress this claim: The
report notes that the civil-rights movement had turned un-American when
championing policies such as affirmative action. This, indeed, is
debatable. It would be more accurate to say that the Left has long given
up on MLK’s dream of an America where people are judged on the content
of their characters rather than the color of their skin.
Then Vazquez contends, quite amusingly, that the report is a “rebuttal
to schools applying a more accurate history curriculum.”
By “more accurate,” she means the New York Times’ 1619 Project, a work
that argues patriots of the American Revolution had only picked up their
muskets to preserve the institution of slavery. This reading of history
been rebuked by numerous historians — and not just panelists at some
Heritage Foundation symposium, but by a wide range of ideologically
diverse historians. Vazquez never mentions this fact, nor that the “more
accurate” project was forced to append a substantive correction and use
stealth edits after historians pointed to more fundamental errors. Or
that the New York Times simply ignored other apprehensions from
historians. The lead author of the project was forced to admit that the
project was simply an “origin story,” not history.
You might disapprove of a positive appraisal of the American founding,
but the notion that the 1619 Project is “more accurate” than the 1776
Report doesn’t hold up, either. In fact, CNN offers not a single factual
mistake in the Trump commission’s paper, only philosophical
disagreements. Sometimes you get the sense reporters can’t comprehend
While CNN’s attack was silly, it was expected. The New York Times,
however, had the temerity to complain that “no professional historians,”
only “conservative activists, politicians and intellectuals,” authored
the report. First of all, Victor Davis Hanson has a Ph.D. in classics
from Stanford University, and has written numerous excellent histories;
Larry Arnn, the chair of the project, has a Ph.D. in government; Carol
Swain, the co-vice chair, has a Ph.D. in political science; Matthew
Spalding, the executive director, has a Ph.D. in government, and so on.
It’s your prerogative to argue that only working academics should chime
in on history. But it is quite odd for the Times to take up the
credentialist case when the 1619 Project’s lead writer was Nikole
Hannah-Jones, a polemicist who earned a master’s degree in journalism
and has no relevant training as a historian.
I think what the Times really meant to say was that no professional
identitarians worked on the 1776 Report. That is certainly true.
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RETURN TO THE CORNER
DAVID HARSANYI is a senior writer for National Review and the author of
First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History with the Gun.
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