About that 1776 Commission Report

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home.

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19 Responses

  1. InMD
    Ignored
    says:

    I’d say the whole thing is a great illustration of how the most intellectually shallow forces in our culture play off of each other to the detriment of the population as a whole. We had our dose of fake woke history so now we’ll get our counter dose of fake nationalistic history. Of course if this is the stupidest example of the phenomenon in the next 6 months we should consider ourselves lucky.Report

  2. Rufus F.
    Ignored
    says:

    14 pages? More than enough space to summarize American history!Report

  3. Kazzy
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    says:

    That is… something.

    Slavery was bad, sure, but you have to understand. And you know what was REALLY bad? Progressivism. Also, fascism and communism elsewhere in the world. And, yes, we handwaved away slavery just a few pages back but the Civil Rights Movement’s conquering of that pesky thing known has racism helped us achieve the ideals of our nation that we pretended weren’t undermined by the existence of slavery and all it wrought, but sadly the CRM immediately gave way to an almost equal evil of identity politics.

    Like, were they even trying? You’re going to boldface the “Challenges to America’s Principles” and then list Slavery, Progressivism, Fascism, Communism, and Racism and Identity Politics (yes, those last two are coupled together as one section title).Report

    • Damon in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      Well, all history is viewed from a certain bias–that of the receiver. When I was in school and we talked about world history–it was still through an US lens. Slavery: there was only mention of the slavery on the West Coast of Arica, and little mention then of the active part many African tribes made selling slaves to the whites. Nor was It brought up that there were Muslim traders moving slaves on the East Coast of Africa, that the British Gov’t was aware and ignored it, and that it continued on after the West Coast trade in slaves ended. It was Livingstone that caused such a stir that the Brits ended it.Report

    • Slade the Leveller in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      Michael Scott: There are four kinds of business: tourism, food service, railroads, and sales.

      [pause]

      Michael Scott: And hospitals/manufacturing. And air travel.Report

  4. gabriel conroy
    Ignored
    says:

    I read the report, but not the appendices. The first half (roughly) strikes me as more or less the type of stuff taught in a high school civics class in which the instructor wishes to avoid controversy but also wants to impart knowledge of some of the principles upon which the US claims to have founded itself.

    The second half strikes me mostly as a partisan screed. It relies on oversimplifications to attack what it calls progressivism and identity politics. To be clear, I’m not a big fan of much of identity politics or the early 20th-century “progressives” (I also don’t believe there really was anything that can be called a “progressive movement”….the progressives were, in my view, way to heterogenous).

    I’d say the report is as bad as people accuse the 1619 project of being. (I haven’t read anything from the 1619 project, so I can’t comment on that.) The report is, in a sense, worse, because it’s an official government statement.

    All that said, it’s not unusual for people to stake out the True and Only History. I’ve encountered enough of that stuff from a supposedly woke perspective.

    Finally, I find mobocracy of the sort we saw on January 6, 2021 more in keeping with the spirit of 1776 than the might-makes-right apologetics we find in the Declaration of Independence.Report

  5. InMD
    Ignored
    says:

    I’d say the report is as bad as people accuse the 1619 project of being. (I haven’t read anything from the 1619 project, so I can’t comment on that.) The report is, in a sense, worse, because it’s an official government statement.

    This is kind of what I was getting at in my comment above and similar to one of the criticisms Bret Stephens had in his NYT piece. If 1619 was pitched as an interesting thought experiment (or just mental masturbation for the NYT readership) it would be at best a footnote in the bizarre turn journalism has taken over the last 4 years.

    Instead it was heralded as so true and so important that school children needed to be indoctrinated into its core assertions. It aspired to be public policy which of course creates pressure for a public policy response that may set an even more dangerous precedent.

    A post-truth set of powerful actors in politics and media is dangerous, but even more dangerous is what comes from multiple such forces interacting with each other. We’re no longer searching for truth but deciding among lies.Report

    • gabriel conroy in reply to InMD
      Ignored
      says:

      That is probably what makes me so uncomfortable with the1619 project, though I hadn’t thought of it in those terms.

      Another thing that raises my skepticism is my fear that the 1619 project might treat slavery a-historically, positing that slavery began in British North America in 1619 and ended in 1865, without much study in how it evolved and why it evolved the way it did. That approach would make slavery into a “just so” story. (On the other hand, maybe my fear is misplaced. Perhaps at least some of the works done for the project do delve into that. Again, I haven’t read it.)Report

  6. CJColucci
    Ignored
    says:

    As I tell my grand-niece and grand-nephews, when I was in school, they didn’t teach history because there hadn’t been enough yet. That said, I spend a lot of time reading real history by real historians, much of it pretty dense and complicated stuff.
    I have not read the 1776 Project and don’t intend to. (I haven’t read the 1619 Project, either.) There was no reason going in to expect it to be of any real value, given its purpose, provenance, and authors, but it is simply not a good use of my time to read what is antecedently likely to be a tendentious, unscholarly account of stuff I probably know as well as any of the authors. As Schopenhauer says, one of the greatest obstacles to reading good books is reading bad books. If, contrary to expectation, it had been any good, I’d have heard by now from people qualified to say and would have had to reconsider whether to bother with it. If, contrary to expectation, it becomes influential in some way despite its lack of merit, then it might be time to reconsider, and to bother with it. Until then, this is just another dodgy government report from a particularly dodgy government.Report

    • Philip H in reply to CJColucci
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      says:

      What push back there has been from actual historians hasn’t really been on the facts the 1619 project presents – its been on the interpretation. The Atlantic had a pretty good summary, which seems to boil down to some historians don’t like the 1619 project’s conclusion that America hasn’t made as much progress as we like to think we have on race relations, in no small part because we are STILL not really grappling with what being a slave nation means.Report

  7. Glen Muir
    Ignored
    says:

    The report is again available for download.Report

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