I wonder what youth are not being told by history teachers today. Despite sounding like a relic from the past, it has not been half a century since I was in a classroom setting. In college, it was a blessing to have a teacher who reminded us that history is a living thing. What we experience today is tomorrow’s history. So, rather than being dusty and dull, it is of great interest to us all. The philosopher, George Santayana, wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Santayana’s quote, of course, has been shortened to “history repeats itself.”
The idea that Americans are historically ignorant brings me to the so-called “1619 Project,” a “woke” retelling of United States history. According to its proponents, America began in 1619 on a foundation of enslaved Africans. Why 1619? That was the year that a Dutch merchant ship sold African slaves to residents of the Jamestown settlement in the Virginia colony. First of all, I think calling 1619 the year of America’s founding would have come as a great shock to King James I, who considered Virginia a vassal of the United Kingdom. Why did the Revolutionary War even become necessary if we already possessed enough autonomy in 1619 to build an American civilization independent of the British?
Second, slavery was not profitable until the invention of the cotton gin in 1794, 5 years after the founding of the Republic of the United States in 1789, when the Constitution was adopted. (1789 is when the United States technically began since we floundered under the Articles of Confederation adopted after the Revolutionary War.) Up until the cotton gin, slavery was not profitable, despite slaves being a cheap labor force. I think most of those buying into the propaganda of the 1619 Project crowd would even be surprised to learn that the voices of Southern slave-holders joined in the cry for a cessation of the Atlantic slave trade in 1807.
I point out the latter about the Atlantic slave trade, not to absolve slave-holders of their guilt, but to acknowledge that such efforts did nothing to stop the Yankee merchant fleet profiting from the slave trade. Unable to bring slaves to Southern ports, Yankee merchants just took slaves to the Caribean islands and South America instead. They would not cease in their activities until after the Civil War. I wonder why there isn’t a vociferous condemnation of Yankee merchants engaged in the slave trade in the late 18th and 19th centuries? It seems every condemning glance continues to be Southward for slavery.
Those selling the idea of the 1619 Project represent nothing new in terms of framing foundational aspects of the United States in a negative light. Others have engaged in biased revisionism in the past. Howard Zinn is likely the culprit for making people hate Christopher Columbus today, despite his contribution to the settlement of the “New World.” And what did Zinn do within his A People’s History of the United States? He took words from Columbus’ journal out of their context to make Columbus sound more like a villain. Yet, I note how many must-read history lists include this book written by one identified even by Wikipedia as a “socialist thinker.” (Is there any wonder that our youngest generations have no problems adopting the ideology of those President Reagan called the “Evil Empire”? They are being spoonfed Marxist pablum by their “woke” teachers.)
Though George Santayana’s quote about history repeating itself is better known, I think it appropriate to close with yet another Santayana quote as we consider the tireless work of modern historical revisionists:
“History is a pack of lies about events that never happened told by people who weren’t there.”
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Hi, my name is Brent. Christian. 親日. ENFP. Music lover. I've channeled my ADHD into becoming a generalist. I enjoy writing and illustrating.