Don’t Know Much About History


Erick Erickson has a post over at The Resurgent fact checking The New York Times‘ 1619 Project, a potentially worthwhile endeavor designed to educate Americans about slavery and the role it has played in the new world. However, the newspaper has turned the project over to a group of opinion writers who appear more interested in stoking and fueling racial grievances than truthfully exploring the nation’s history.

The essay Erickson fact checks begins by getting key details of 17th-century history wrong.

The Times has set about inserting race into everything and demanding we all see race in everything. 1619 is our “true founding.” No, actually, historically that is not true in any way shape or form.

In fact, the House of Burgesses convened in Jamestown, Virginia on July 30, 1619, before any African had set foot on the North American continent. The Mayflower pilgrims landed in New England in 1620, completely separated from those in Jamestown, with different goals, views, values, and priorities. It is also worth noting that white indentured servants outnumbered slaves and arrived before slaves. Quibble all you want with the distinctions, but in 1619 they were roughly treated the same — terribly on all counts.

To make it all about slavery is to ignore that there were already Europeans in North America before the first slave arrived and there were Europeans arriving in America in different locations quite apart from where slavery was. For a project that claims truth for itself, it is deeply untrue to truth and reality. The pilgrims in Massachusetts in 1620 were not exactly a group of slave holders as they were setting up shop, forming modes of government, and adopting private property and capitalist meta-structures to avoid failures from collective farming.

In fact, in 1623, still well before slavery made it into pilgrim settlements, the Plymouth Plantation abandoned communal property rights in favor of private property rights and a system of free enterprise.

The Times‘ essay’s misrepresentation of history continues to the present era, falsely claiming, for example, that the Republicans took control of the Senate in 2010.

Americans, particularly white Americans, need to learn more about slavery in the United States. But doing so on the premise that the United States itself is flawed and illegitimate is not the way to do it. Sadly, that’s what so much of the Times’ coverage amounts to.

If the nation is founded on slavery and slavery is woven into the very fabric of our society, then our society is illegitimate. The only way to overcome it is to overturn it. That would take revolution. This is the path the New York Times goes down. Once it lights this fire, it will not be able to control it. But it wants to strike the match anyway.

Read the whole thing.