Before Donald Trump flew his feckless ass away from the White House he tried to pull off a grand measure of revisionist history and was very close to getting away with it. The former never-should-have-been-commander-in-chief pieced together a commission in last September to promote what he described as “patriotic education.”
What opponents of Trump’s “pro-American” curriculum (i.e. historians and scholars) immediately recognized about his attempt to suppress the role systemic racism played in the fabric of America’s being, was that it was an obvious attempt to thwart the impact of the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project that Trump described as “a twisted web of lies.”
Basically, the formation of the 1776 commission was set in place to feed two of Trump’s biggest character traits: his pettiness/jealousy and his racism.
The report from the 1776 commission officially rolled out on January 18, Martin Luther King day no less, and two days from Trump’s presidency coming to an end. And before you could say “The British are coming, grab the slaves as shields”, Joe Biden took the oath of office and removed the report from the White House website.
Historians (of merit) were adamantly opposed to the educational coup Trump was seeking to pull off, as David Blight, author of the biography Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom describing it as a “puerile, politically reactionary document” that “doesn’t really use evidence except to employ founding documents and too many quotations out of context.”
What goes without saying is that the formation of the commission and the report it authored was a final Hail Mary from an administration and a president that wanted the concept of benevolent whiteness to remain centered in the cultural narrative of how this country came to be.
Beyond its reduction of the role of chattel slavery played in the building of this nation and the subsequent history of laws and policies that penalized citizens of color, the 1776 Commission Report was hoping to continue a legacy of school-age children learning about white men operating from a place of high morality and bravery in the creation of a “perfect union.”
But America has cycled far too many generations of students through its education system that have left grade school with inaccurate depictions of who the Founding Fathers were, and a suppressed version of the role that violence and subjugation of non-white human beings played in establishing the republic.
The caucacity was strong, strong with that move. Fortunately, it was struck down, but it is unrelenting in its efforts to foreground whiteness as the greatest American resource, so I’m sure it is thinking of a way to re-tool itself.
Therefore, we have to remain in fact-check mode until this nation understands that we will not sit idly while it lies to our children about what it has been.
About the Author
Donney Rose is a poet, essayist, Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow, advocate, and Chief Content Editor at The North Star. He believes in telling how it is and how it should be
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