Can 1776 ‘Trump’ 1619? For the United States of America to survive, it needs more self-awareness & less self-hatred
The fact that critics of US President Donald Trump think his push for patriotic education will result in a new ‘Hitler Youth’ is proof enough that stuff like the 1619 Project is challenging the very survival of America.
Speaking in Washington on Thursday, Trump denounced critical race theory, the New York Times’ 1619 Project, and socialist Howard Zinn’s revisionist history of the US as “an ideological poison that, if not removed, will dissolve the civic bonds that tie us together.”
To counter these threats, he announced an upcoming executive order that will establish a national commission to promote patriotic education, dubbing it the ‘1776 Commission’ after the year the original colonies declared independence from Britain.
It did not take long for the president’s critics to call him a racist for daring to disagree with the 1619 Project, and describe the proposed patriotic education as wanting to turn American children into modern ‘Hitler Youth’. Yet that criticism itself betrays the intellectual poverty of self-styled warriors for social and racial justice, whose “peaceful protests” over the past summer have resulted in multiple deaths, as well as a record-high property damage bill.
To them, everything wrong with the US is either tied to “fascism” or slavery. The obsession with “fascism” – defined loosely as anything they dislike at any given moment, but usually illustrated by World War II movie tropes – is bad enough, but the 1619 Project actually goes a step further, arguing that the entirety of US history is inextricably linked with exploitation of African-American labor.
The only way in which the US founding ideals and principles make sense is through the lens of black struggle, argued Nikole Hannah-Jones, in the flagship essay for the project that won the Pulitzer Prize this March. That historians of all stripes have pushed back against that premise hasn’t done much to stop the 1619 Project being incorporated into school programs across the US, alongside other “anti-racism” curricula that actually promote racist thinking.
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What makes the premise pushed by Hannah-Jones and the 1619 Project particularly pernicious is that the US is an exception among the world’s countries. Not in the sense of “exceptional” as it’s commonly used by Washington think tanks – above the rules of conduct it seeks to impose on others – but in the sense that, however it began, by now much of its population has come to regard it as a “proposition nation.”
Simply put, it’s an article of faith that anyone who passes the citizenship test and pledges allegiance “to the flag and the republic for which it stands” is thereby an American. That ideas make one an American, while his or her heritage is irrelevant.
So, what happens when those ideas are “canceled”?
Almost no one is interested in asking that question. The social justice warriors aren’t interested in responding directly, either. Indirectly, however, they offer plenty of clues. Recall this year’s Independence Day celebrations, when Democrats, activists and the mainstream media rushed to denounce Mt. Rushmore as a racist monument to white supremacy.
All four presidents depicted on the mountainside have been targeted for “cancellation” by self-styled social justice warriors – from Washington and Jefferson, without whom there literally would’ve been no United States, to the original progressive Teddy Roosevelt and even the emancipator of slaves Abraham Lincoln. Before that, the Betsy Ross flag, ‘God Bless America’ and the national anthem were also denounced as racist.
It doesn’t take a genius to realize that, if the social justice warriors’ vision somehow became the law of the land, there wouldn’t be a “land” much longer. “No country can survive being ruled by people who hate it,” to quote a famous line by Tucker Carlson, one of Trump’s favorite TV personalities. Whether the endgame looks like Yugoslavia or Rwanda, with 330-plus million people sitting on the world’s biggest stockpile of weapons… let your imagination fill in the blanks.
That’s not to say there aren’t problems with Trump’s vision of America, mind you. Take, for example, his claim on Thursday that the US “abolished slavery, secured civil rights, defeated communism and fascism, and built the most fair, equal, and prosperous nation in human history.”
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Going after each one of those would take days, so let’s take the most obvious one. If the US “defeated communism,” then what is the Chinese Communist Party and why is the Trump administration gearing up for a generational conflict with it? As for the “fascism” part, the US played a far smaller part in that victory than the Soviet Union – however much modern American historians, German magazines, or speechwriters for Trump and his Vice President Mike Pence would like to pretend otherwise.
It’s historical revisionism like this that has led to US adventurism abroad, from Yugoslavia and Iraq to Libya and Syria. Even as he denounces the endless foreign wars, Trump himself doesn’t seem aware of the connection. If it ends up embracing these denials of historical facts, the patriotic education Trump proposes is just as certain to destroy America, by irrevocably turning it into a globalist empire.
Whether Americans can navigate between the Scylla of self-hatred and the Charybdis of lacking self-awareness, and bring their country through to calmer waters, we’ll all find out soon enough.
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