On Thursday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) filed a bill to defund schools that indoctrinate children with The New York Times‘ racially divisive, historically inaccurate, and arguably dangerous “1619 Project.” Cotton filed this important bill just as riots following the horrific police killing of George Floyd have continued across America for nearly two months, with many rioters endorsing the 1619 Project or acting on the premise of the Marxist critical theory it promotes. In fact, the project’s founder, Nikole Hannah-Jones, briefly endorsed the idea that the riots — which have killed at least 22 people, most of them black — should be called the “1619 Riots.”
“The New York Times’s 1619 Project is a racially divisive, revisionist account of history that denies the noble principles of freedom and equality on which our nation was founded,” Cotton said in a statement. “Not a single cent of federal funding should go to indoctrinate young Americans with this left-wing garbage.”
“The Saving American History Act of 2020” aims “to prohibit Federal funds from being made available to teach the 1619 Project curriculum in elementary schools and secondary schools, and for other purposes.”
The 1619 Project redefines American history, arguing that the true founding of the United States came with the arrival of the first black slaves in 1619. America is irredeemably founded on racist oppression, so its history, culture, economy, and government must be overturned in order to achieve racial justice, according to the project.
In contrast to this effort, Cotton’s bill declares, “The true date of America’s founding is July 4, 1776, the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress” and “The self-evident truths set forth by that Declaration are the fundamental principles upon which America was founded.”
The bill warns that “an activist movement is now gaining momentum to deny or obfuscate this history by claiming that America was not founded on the ideals of the Declaration but rather on slavery and oppression.” Tragically, “this distortion of American history is being taught to children in public school classrooms via the New York Times’ ‘1619 Project’, which claims that ‘nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional’ grew ‘out of slavery’.”
The 1619 Project “threatens the integrity of the Union by denying the true principles on which it was founded,” the bill warns. “The Federal Government has a strong interest in promoting an accurate account of the Nation’s history through public schools and forming young people into knowledgeable and patriotic citizens.”
Historians have panned the 1619 Project for twisting American history. The New York Times had to make an embarrassing correction. After the project claimed that the American Revolution was fought in part to preserve slavery, The Times had to admit that this was false.
The bill directs the Secretaries of Education, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services to determine exactly how much money public schools spend in activities that support the teaching of the 1619 Project — in planning time and teaching time — and to reduce federal funds accordingly. The cuts do not apply to federal funds for free and reduced-price school lunches or for disabled students.
Leftists brand Tom Cotton “racist” for opposing the 1619 Project
Leftists attacked and mocked Cotton’s bill, causing “Tom Cotton” to trend on Twitter.
Elie Mystal, a correspondent at The Nation, attempted to crack jokes at the senator’s expense. “Tom Cotton is so racist, he’s afraid of the dark,” she tweeted. “Tom Cotton is so racist, he thinks the white rhino is endangered because there are too many black rhinos. … Tom Cotton is so racist, he only read 3/5ths of these jokes.”
Tom Cotton is so racist, he's afraid of the dark.
— Elie Mystal (@ElieNYC) July 23, 2020
Media Matters Editor-at-Large Parker Molloy condemned Cotton’s bill as a “stunt” and mocked the idea that the U.S. government has an interest in promoting an accurate reading of American history.
Tom Cotton's anti-1619 bill is a stunt, but it's extremely funny that anyone could say that the gov "has a strong interest in promoting an ACCURATE account of the nation's history through public schools…"
Have you seen what actually gets taught in schools? pic.twitter.com/tytej459JP
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) July 23, 2020
Nikole Hannah-Jones claimed that “this bill speaks to the power of journalism more than anything I’ve ever done in my career.” She ended her thread attacking Cotton’s bill by citing the far-left smear factory the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which fired its co-founder amid a racial discrimination and sexual harassment scandal last year. (Someone should write a book about it.)
How’s that 1619 Project working out on the streets of Portland?
The 1619 Project has arguably inflamed the riots across America. When vandals toppled a statue of George Washington in Portland, they spray-painted “1619” on the statue. Claremont’s Charles Kesler wrote in The New York Post, “Call them the 1619 riots,” and the project’s founder, Nikole Hannah-Jones, responded (in a since-deleted tweet) that “it would be an honor” to claim responsibility for the destructive riots and the demonization of Washington.
While Hannah-Jones later deleted that tweet, she has not reversed her claim that destruction of property does not constitute “violence.”
“Violence is when an agent of the state kneels on a man’s neck,” she insisted. “Destroying property, which can be replaced, is not violent.”
In a November 9, 1995 op-ed, the 1619 Project founder condemned Christopher Columbus as “no different” from Adolf Hitler and demonized the “white race” as the true “savages” and “bloodsuckers.” She went on to describe “white America’s dream” as “colored America’s nightmare.” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) expressed a similar sentiment when she called for the “dismantling” of America’s “economy and political system,” in order to root out supposed racist oppression.
Portland activist Lilith Sinclair identified herself as “an Afro-Indigenous non-binary local organizer here in Portland, organizing for the abolition of not just the militarized police state but also the United States as we know it.” Sinclair also argued that part of the work in healing “intergenerational wounds of colonization and genocide” involves undoing “the harm of colonized thought that has been pushed onto Black and indigenous communities. That’s in regards to Christianity, and in regards to all of these different types of oppressive systems that have introduced and enforced the gender binary on communities that did not ascribe to that way of thinking, including indigenous communities both Native American and across Africa.”
Sinclair is brainwashing herself in an effort to erase the supposed “colonized thought” that keeps black people oppressed or something. This echoes the Smithsonian’s horrifying Marxist lesson on “whiteness” that “deconstructed” various aspects of American and Western culture, including capitalism, science, the nuclear family, and Christianity, as nefarious relics of white supremacy. The lesson also claims that a work ethic, delayed gratification, being polite, and getting to meetings on time are aspects of the “whiteness” culture that must be deconstructed and rejected.
The Smithsonian later rejected this horrific racist “lesson,” but the fact that the Smithsonian adopted it in the first place is highly distressing.
This brainwashing against “colonized thought” is the natural outworking of the Marxist critical theory espoused by the 1619 Project. It is a recipe for failure in the workplace and destruction in the public square. While this ideology claims to champion black people, it has inspired riots that have destroyed black lives, black livelihoods, and black monuments. At least 22 Americans have died in the riots, most of them black.
It is high time the federal government pulls funding from schools indoctrinating kids with this dangerous and divisive project. Sadly, a commonsense bill like this has no chance of passing the Democrat-dominated House of Representatives. Democrats seem intent on ignoring the violence and destruction of the riots, perhaps because they know the antifa and Black Lives Matter agitators terrorizing American cities make up part of their base.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.