The New York Times '1619 Project' Uses Slavery to Advance Left-Wing Propaganda | Opinion

The New York Times is at it again. The activist group masquerading as a newspaper recently announced the launch of something they dubbed "The 1619 Project," designed to observe the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery.

What, I thought when I heard about the project, is this about? Isn't the New York Times in the news business? The 1619 Project sounded like something that might come from The History Channel, or BET, or even PBS. Or the halls of academia. But one of America's biggest news providers?

In an effort to clear up any possible confusion, The New York Times described the mission of their project:

It aims to reframe the country's history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.

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Some parts of that statement are laudable. Americans need to know more about the original sin of this nation, and the impact it had on the lives of all of those in bondage, their children, and their children's children. And so much of American life.

But "reframe the country's history"? What editorial imperative drove them to do this "reframing" now? Why not in 2012? Or 2008? I think we know why.

And why, I wondered, didn't the New York Times call 1619 an important year, rather than the year of our "true founding?" What's that about? It's certainly about more than teaching Americans about slavery and its historical implications.

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Slavery -- Arrive in Virginia
Superintendent of Fort Monroe National Monument Terry E. Brown poses near a historical marker at the fort, August 19, 2019, in Hampton, Virginia, marking where African slaves first arrived in the U.S. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images/Getty

Then I decided to read the remarkable opening essay in the New York Times magazine section by Nikole Hannah-Jones. It was moving, and well worth the time to read in its entirety. It's part memoir, part history lesson—and good parts of it are deeply moving.

The fact is, the trials and tribulations—the pain and suffering—that black Americans faced in this country from the 17th century straight through segregation—and even today—are not properly appreciated by most Americans.

In her essay, Hannah-Jones described her grandmother's experience growing up in the Mississippi Delta. It's heartbreaking.

My dad's mother, like all the black people in Greenwood, could not vote, use the public library or find work other than toiling in the cotton fields or toiling in white people's houses. So in the 1940s, she packed up her few belongings and her three small children and joined the flood of black Southerners fleeing North. She got off the Illinois Central Railroad in Waterloo, Iowa, only to have her hopes of the mythical Promised Land shattered when she learned that Jim Crow did not end at the Mason-Dixon line.

There were some equally compelling aspects of her essay on the historical front:

While liberty was the inalienable right of the people who would be considered white, enslavement and subjugation became the natural station of people who had any discernible drop of 'black' blood.

The Supreme Court enshrined this thinking in the law in its 1857 Dred Scott decision, ruling that black people, whether enslaved or free, came from a 'slave' race. This made them inferior to white people and, therefore, incompatible with American democracy. Democracy was for citizens, and the 'Negro race,' the court ruled, was 'a separate class of persons' which the founders had 'not regarded as a portion of the people or citizens of the Government' and had 'no rights which a white man was bound to respect.'

But there were other parts of the essay that sounded like pure propaganda. And worse, outright mischief.

"Our democracy's founding ideals were false when they were written," Hannah-Jones stated. "The United States is a nation founded on both an ideal and a lie," she added.

A lie and an ideal? Can it possibly be both?

The fact is that the words written by Thomas Jefferson didn't just change America. The assertion that human beings were endowed with unalienable rights by their Creator echoed around the world, and still does wherever people are fighting for—longing for—their God-given freedoms.

Our nation's tragedy—our deep moral chasm—was that we did not include black people in that compact. But America was and still is defined much more by the events of 1776 and 1787 than the events in 1619. To argue otherwise is sheer intellectual dishonesty.

Later on in the essay, Hannah-Jones doesn't just get her history wrong: she makes it up. "Conveniently left out of our founding mythology is the fact that one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery," she noted.

What mythology is she referring to? That the 160 years of neglect, writs of assistance, and taxes imposed on American goods by the King of England were all mere window dressing on the road to the American revolution? And that what white folks in Boston were really up to when they risked their lives and sacred honor taking on the mighty British Empire was protecting the institution of slavery? And their great friends in the southern states? Is she serious?

Towards the end of her essay, while chronicling a long list of advances black people led on the Civil Rights front, she takes this tragic ideological detour:

It is a truly American irony that some Asian-Americans, among the groups able to immigrate to the United States because of the black civil rights struggle, are now suing universities to end programs designed to help the descendants of the enslaved.

She was referring to the law suit filed by Asian Americans against Harvard for discrimination. A lawsuit that was a fundamental expression of their civil rights. Clearly, Jones thinks Asian Americans need to clear up (or clean up) their thinking!

But perhaps the most egregious piece of propaganda Jones saved for her "CBS This Morning" interview last week.

One question was clearly staged, and it was Gayle King who asked it:

Gayle King: "You can tie health care to slavery. How?"

Hannah-Jones: "There is a piece in my article about why we are the only Western industrialized country that doesn't have universal health care. And it starts with opposition to universal health care that occurred right after slavery when the Freedman's Bureau was trying to offer free health care to the formerly enslaved, and there was white opposition to that, and even today, you see in polling that white Americans will reject social programs that they think large numbers of black people will benefit from. And so the harms of slavery have not been contained because there are millions of white Americans, millions of Latino, Asians and black Americans who don't have health care because of slavery."

That's what New York Times 1619 Project is really about: using slavery as an historical and emotional cudgel to advance left-wing propaganda.

If you are against universal health care and an obtrusive state, you can't possibly be arguing on principle: it's racism, plain and simple.

Near the end of her long essay, Hannah-Jones wound things up with these words, which I found the most offensive of all: "We were told once, by virtue of our bondage, that we could never be American."

But aren't my grandparents "most American of all"? They came here from Italy and Lebanon respectively to better their lives. Aren't the Cuban refugee who escaped the clutches of Castro's Marxist regime the "most American of all," too? What about the Vietnamese boat people who made their way to our shores? Or the millions of Americans who escaped the caste system of India? And the Africans coming here today from places like Ethiopia and Nigeria? And what about the generations of immigrants from every corner of the earth who came to our shores for economic and religious freedom? And are still coming by the millions? Aren't all of us the "most American of all"?

That's what Jefferson and our founders unleashed, and no amount of propaganda by the New York Times can change it.

In a sermon on July 4, 1965, at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. talked about those precious words of Jefferson's. He did not call the words a lie. Or false. After describing the beautiful universalism of Jefferson's words—specifically, that all men were created equally—he said this:

Never before in the history of the world has a sociopolitical document expressed in such profound, eloquent and unequivocal language the dignity and the worth of human personality. The American dream reminds us—and we should think about it anew on this Independence Day—that every man is an heir of the legacy of dignity and worth.

Jones didn't include King's words in her essay, and for good reason. Dr. King didn't believe our founding ideals were a sham. He took them seriously, and bravely challenged America to live up to them—something that black Americans have been doing for centuries, and continue to do, with grace and dignity.

Lee Habeeb is vice president of content for Salem Radio Network and host of Our American Stories. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife, Valerie, and his daughter, Reagan.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.

The New York Times '1619 Project' Uses Slavery to Advance Left-Wing Propaganda | Opinion | Opinion