Sad to say, The New York Times’ controversial 1619 Project opens with a lie that it never quite recovers from.
The project — challenged by numerous historians and journalists such as George Will
— begins with the premise that slavery in the United States began in 1619, when the first African slaves were brought to North America.
They were indeed brought to North America, by the British to the British colonies established here — but not to the United States, which did not exist until July 1776.
To blame the U.S.A. for originating slavery is like blaming the now-ruling African National Congress for apartheid in South Africa.
Apartheid there was a product of the ruling Europeans, just as slavery here was a product of the ruling British.
The 1619 Project frames the founding principle of the U.S. as slavery. Not religious freedom. Not market economy. Not self-governance. Not free enterprise. Not limits on the powers of government. Not equality. (The “equality” did not apply to women and Africans. Truth is truth.)
Proclaiming slavery as the bedrock of the U.S. is not truth. It is not history. It is political propaganda.
It is a blatant attempt to plant white guilt, perhaps so as to harvest reparations in the future. It intersects with the portion of Critical Race Theory that holds all white people are racist — which is another lie.
The truth is this: Slavery existed here before the arrival of Christopher Columbus, and it wasn’t pretty.
Native Americans enslaved and sought to destroy each other. Ethnic cleansing often followed victory. They did not learn slavery from Europeans. They figured it out for themselves, and I mean almost all indigenous people, and not just North American Indians.
Keep that in mind when you replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.
Another ugly truth: Indians also enslaved Black people. Here is a Smithsonian magazine report on the well-known Trail of Tears inflicted on the Cherokee people. Less well-known is that some of them owned Black slaves who were shipped westward.
Even more astonishing were the free Black men who themselves held Black slaves. Black slave owner Anthony Johnson went to court to establish his right to own slaves. Was he an early white supremacist?
The evil of slavery has been around almost as long as “civilization.” It is mentioned with acceptance in the Bible, such as in Ephesians 6:5-8, where Paul states, “Slaves, be obedient to your human masters with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ,” which is Paul instructing slaves to obey their master. Why no condemnation from on high? Because slavery was a societal norm for thousands of years until cracks began to show in the 18th Century. Here is a brief, unhappy history from Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomlindsay/2019/08/30/after-all-didnt-america-invent-slavery/?sh=2f6818f07ef6
Who were the abolitionists?
Mostly white people.
You can argue it took longer than it should have for the U.S., but there is no denying that Americans rid themselves of the British tradition.
Who sold Africans to Arab slave traders and white ship captains? African tribes did the selling. No honest discussion of slavery can ignore the participation of Africans themselves.
The current wave of wokesters — such as the 1619 Project — seek to yoke slavery around the American heart and soul. Such attempts are political propaganda, false and actually as evil as a district attorney hiding exculpatory evidence in order to win a conviction.
The 1619 Project was launched, in my opinion, with a conclusion of guilt, and worked back from there, ignoring that the evil of slavery was historical, world-wide and deeply entrenched — everywhere.
Even before America’s birth, some Americans tried to remove slavery.
Not alI Americans, of course. Slavery was a struggle before and after Independence.
As research in History.com shows, between 1774 and 1804, every northern state abolished slavery.
The U.S. Congress ended the African slave trade in 1808, although it took another 55 years for slave ownership to be outlawed by the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. That came during the Civil War, which was sparked by slavery.
In less than a century, from 1776 to 1863, the United States prohibited the evil that had been around since the dawn of civilization.
It is not a shameful record.
This post was updated on 1/11/22 to include George Will and Forbes.