The 1619 Project Duck ‘n’ Dodge

Martha MacCallum, Fox News commentator, interviewed Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers,  about the issues with teaching the 1619 Project and Critical Race Theory. 

The core argument of the 1619 Project is that early Americans fought to preserve slavery.  It begs the question. Fought who? Fought about what exactly?  To fight to preserve something presume an opposition, something that wants to interfere with you.

Moreover, there were many aspects of early America which had no slavery.  There were abolitionists among the nation’s founders.  The kind of unity implied by the 1619 Project is the kind of blind revisionism born of a narrow ideological perspective.

Instead, it seems that whatever “scholarship” is produced in support of the thesis of the 1619 Project carefully avoids scholarship that contradicts and nullifies their claims.

When Weingarten claimed that she believed 1619 in Virginia and the first slave ship was the real beginning of America, Martha MacCallum said “That’s a very simplistic take on it.”  To put it another way, Weingarten was being superficial.  It is the best way to avoid facts that disagree.

Moreover, there was a small but significant population of black slave owners.  They would have had to first arrive as slaves, get their freedom, then turn around and enslave others.

Weingarten’s arguments depend on keeping a narrow point of view. If she wishes to assert that America was a “slave nation”, then what about the islands in the Caribbean?   What about South America.  It was something like 5% of all slaves brought from Africa went to America.

If the 1619 Project is a biased perception of America, then it follows that is more like propaganda, and less like an education.  That would suggest that one should consider the possibility that the 1619 Project is basically communist propaganda under the cover the “progressivism”.  This is a common charge.

A number of historians have criticized the 1619 Project for not giving an honest portrayal of Slavery in America.  That Randi Weingarten insists on adopting that perspective only shows that she is an left-wing extremist and probably does hate America.  She would do well to read Peter Wood’s response to the 1619 Project.  He goes farther back in time and ties together many more facts than the 1619 Project.

Slave Economy versus Free Market Economy –  There is considerable research on the economies of  the 19th century in America.  The most telling is a contrast between economic activity that depended on slavery, and that which did not.   The most fundamental distinction was between manufacturing and agriculture.  90% of the nation’s manufacturing output was in the north, while roughly 84% of the agricultural output was in the south.  However, that does not tell the whole story.  A future disadvantage in the Civil War was the amount of railroad track in the nation in 1860.  By that time, there was over 30,000 miles of track, of which roughly 21,000 was in the north.  That the south had less than half would hurt troop and supply movements during the Civil War.

This points out the fact that the south was primarily a labor-intensive slave economy, while the north was primarily and industrial free market economy.  The north’s use of mechanization in both industry and agriculture was making them economically stronger than the south.  In fact, the slave economy was a drag on innovation and competition.  Especially under the conditions of war, a slave economy suffers and cannot keep up with the output and improvements characteristic of a free market economy.

This leads to an argument avoided by the 1619 Project. Slavery was in decline by the 1860s.  The population of freed slaves had grown from 10,000 in the 1770s, to over 200,000 by 1810.  The freed slaves had formed vibrant and prosperous communities in that time.  Coupled with the abolitionist movement, one could see that slavery was on its way out of the American culture.  All of this was happening even though cotton and tobacco production were major economic drivers importing more slaves.  However,  the U.S. Consititution outlawed the important of slaves after January 1, 1808.  Some were still smuggled in, but importation was effectively stopped by then.

So, the point of the few facts presented here is that the 1619 Project is the best kind of lie:  It only tells half the truth.

As for critical race theory (CRT), the situation only gets worse.  While proponents continue to push this highly racial and grotesquely inaccurate view of the human race, they ignore the obvious.  We are more than our racial identity.  It is a point that even a growing number of liberals are beginning to raise.  At what point will they realize that CRT is rehashed Marxism where the bourguoise (read white) must be eliminated in order to benefit the proletariat (read black).  CRT “scholars” have twisted themselves into all kinds of ideological knots in order to include Asians, Arabs, Latinos, etc. It doesn’t work.  Asians are especially offended by CRT.  It was take a continued and concerted effort, but CRT will eventually be eliminated from education.

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