WASHINGTON – The White House released the President’s Commission Report of 1776 Monday, a sweeping attack on liberal thinking and activism that requires “patriotic upbringing.”
In the heat of his September re-election campaign, President Trump formed the 18-person commission, made up of a range of conservative activists, politicians and intellectuals rather than professional historians, as he defended American traditional heritage against “radical liberals. Previously not known for his interest in American history or education, Mr. Trump insisted that the country’s schools had been infiltrated by anti-American thinking and required a new “pro-American” curriculum.
The commission was part of Mr. Trump’s larger response to the partly violent anti-racism protests that followed the murder of George Floyd, a black, by a white police officer in Minneapolis in June.
In his remarks in the National Archives, in which the formation of the commission was announced, Trump said: “The unrest and chaos of the left are the direct result of decades of indoctrination of the left in our schools.”
The Commission report Allegations, which were quickly ridiculed by many mainstream historians, that Americans are indoctrinated with false criticism of the nation’s founding and identity, including the role of slavery in its history.
“Historical revisionism, which tramples on honest scholarship and historical truth, shames Americans by only highlighting the sins of their ancestors and teaching claims of systemic racism that only more discrimination can eradicate, is an ideology that more opinions manipulate than educate the mind. ” the report says.
The report was heavily criticized by historians, some of whom noted that the commission, although made up of conservative educators, did not include a single professional historian from the United States.
James Grossman, the executive director of the American Historical Association, said the report was not a work of history but “cynical politics.”
“This report skillfully interweaves myths, biases, deliberate silence, and misinterpretations of evidence, both overt and subtle, to produce a narrative and argument that few respected professional historians would find plausible, even on a wide range of interpretations, whether or not convince or not. ” he said.
“They use what they call history to foment culture wars,” he said.
The commission’s report shows a nation where liberals seething with hatred of their own country, and whose divisions over its history and significance are reminiscent of those who led to the American Revolution and Civil War.
It shows an America whose institutions have been infiltrated by radical leftists whose views match those of recent totalitarian movements, and argues that progressives have created an unchecked “fourth branch” or “shadow government” in the so-called administrative state.
And American universities, the report says, “are often hotbeds of anti-Americanism, slander, and censorship that arouse at least contempt and, at worst, total hatred of the country among students and the wider culture.”
The report compares the progressive American movement of the early 20th century to the fascism of leaders like Benito Mussolini, who “sought to centralize power under the guidance of so-called experts”.
“The biggest statement in the 1776 report is that he lists” progressivism “along with” slavery “and” fascism “in his list of” Challenges to America’s Principles “,” said Thomas Sugrue, a historian at New York University. wrote on Twitter. “Time to rewrite my lectures to say that ending child labor and regulating meat packaging = Hitlerism.”
The report, published on Martin Luther King’s birthday, even targets the legacy of the civil rights movement, saying that it was “almost immediately directed towards programs that ran counter to the high ideals of the founders.”
Some of the strongest criticisms were about the report’s treatment of slavery, which the report said was an unfortunate reality around the world that was swept away in America by the forces sparked by the American Revolution that it called “a dramatic change in the sea.” becomes moral sensitivity. “
The report’s authors condemn the allegation that the American founders were hypocrites who preached equality, despite the fact that they codified this in the constitution and kept slaves themselves.
“This accusation is false and has caused enormous damage, especially in recent years, with devastating effects on our civil unity and our social fabric,” they write. Men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, while owning hundreds of enslaved people, abhorred slavery, the report said.
“The White House report of 1776 seems to consider it worse for the country to label the founders as hypocritical of slavery than actual slavery,” said Seth Masket, professor of political science at the University of Denver. wrote on Twitter.
And on a line that has been particularly ignited by historians, the report names John C. Calhoun “perhaps the leading precursor” of identity politics.
“Like today’s proponents of identity politics,” she claims, “Calhoun believed that it was impossible to achieve unity through rational considerations and political compromises. Majority groups only use the political process to suppress minority groups.”
The commission is chaired by Larry Arnn, an ally of Trump and president of the conservative Hillsdale College. Its co-chair is Carol Swain, a prominent black conservative and former law professor at Vanderbilt University. Other members include former Republican governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant; the conservative activist Ned Ryan; Mr. Trump’s former domestic policy adviser Brooke Rollins; and Charles Kesler, editor of the influential conservative publication The Claremont Review of Books.
The commission and its report are in part a rebuke for the New York Times Magazine’s 1619 project to refresh American history of the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans. The report denounces the project, as does Mr Trump in his September speech in which he announced the commission.
“This project is rewriting American history to teach our children that we were founded on the principle of oppression, not freedom,” Trump said at the time.
Mr Trump’s commission produced its report just four months after it was drawn up and less than a month after Mr Trump publicly announced its members. In contrast, a Race Commission set up by President Bill Clinton in June 1997 published its first report 15 months later.
Although the report was billed as “final” by the White House, it did not contain any scientific footnotes or citations, nor was it clear who its main authors were.