by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
[O]ne of the most noteworthy efforts to reframe American history in terms of race, The New York Times’ 1619 Project, virtually ignores the Democrat Party’s role in advancing and sustaining racism in the United States.
Named after the year slaves from Africa were first brought to North America, the curated collection of essays on race in America presents even the most complex modern issues—from obesity and traffic jams to capitalism itself—as being primarily a consequence of America’s history of slavery and racial injustice.
The 1619 Project has been widely adopted as a historical framework on the left, despite criticism from eminent historians, being repudiated by the 1619 Project’s own fact-checkers, and mangling basic facts.
Yet, in the essay texts, the Democratic Party is named only three times, in passing. The Republican Party, the political entity formed to fight slavery, also receives little mention. But when the GOP is mentioned, it is excoriated as the 21st-century heir to 19th-century racist ideology.
For critics of the 1619 Project, the virtual omission of any discussion of the Democratic Party is not only galling, but revealing.
In their view, the goal of the 1619 Project is neither historical, nor educational—it’s thoroughly political.
“[1619 Project editor] Nikole Hannah-Jones has been explicit about saying that the point of her essay and the point of the 1619 Project more broadly is to get a reparations bill passed. So, that’s a partisan objective,” says Lucas Morel, a professor at Washington and Lee University who has authored books on Abraham Lincoln and Ralph Ellison. …
… Peter Wood, head of the National Association of Scholars and author of “1620: A Critical Response to the 1619 Project,” agrees that politics is a likely explanation for the 1619 Project’s significant analytical failing.
“If you’re going to be leveraging this project in order to persuade Congress to pass legislation that would entail spending many billions of dollars giving money to the descendants of former slaves, then you need to court favor with the political party that is most likely to advance that agenda,” he says.