Thursday, August 22, 2019

"The New York Times" Surrenders to the Left on Race

By Damon Linker

There's no denying that the much-lauded "1619 Project" at The New York Times is a remarkable achievement. Whether it's an achievement that the paper and its staff should be proud of is another matter.

For those who haven't been following along, this past weekend the paper devoted the entirety (just under 100 pages) of The New York Times Magazine, along with a separate stand-alone section of the Sunday paper, to a breathtakingly ambitious and ideologically radical undertaking — nothing less than the telling of the story of American history, perhaps for the very first time, "truthfully."

Inside, a note from NYTM editor Jake Silverstein informs his readers that it is wrong to trace the true origin of the United States to the founding of the English settlement in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, or to the landing of the Puritans at Plymouth Rock in 1620, or to the publication of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Instead, the Times proposes to overturn such mythmaking in favor of an effort to "reframe American history," treating 1619 as "our nation's birth year."

Why 1619? Because that's when the first ship carrying African slaves arrived on American shores, and the Times intends to place "the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are as a country." This reframing is necessary because out of slavery "grew nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional."
Now, there is a lot to admire in the paper's presentation of the 1619 Project — searing photographs, illuminating quotations from archival material, samples of poetry and fiction giving powerful voice to the black experience, and gripping journalistic summaries of scholarly histories. Much of it is wrenching, moving, and infuriating. The country's treatment of the slaves and their descendants through the century following emancipation and, in some respects, on down to the present was and is appalling — and the story of how it happened, and keeps happening, is extremely important for understanding the United States. Bringing this story to a wide audience is a worthwhile public service.

Yet that isn't the point of the 1619 project. The point, once again, is to "reframe American history" so that this appalling history stands at the very center of who we are as a country. Achieving that goal has required the Times to treat history in a highly sensationalistic, reductionistic, and tendentious way, with the cumulative result resembling agitprop more than responsible journalism or scholarship. Putting aside any pretense toward nuance or complexity, the paper has surrendered to the sensibility of left-wing political activists. The result is unpersuasive — and a sad comment on the state of our country's public life.

Throughout the issue of the NYTM, headlines make, with just slight variations, the same rhetorical move over and over again: "Here is something unpleasant, unjust, or even downright evil about life in the present-day United States. Bet you didn't realize that slavery is ultimately to blame." Lack of universal access to health care? High rates of sugar consumption? Callous treatment of incarcerated prisoners? White recording artists "stealing" black music? Harsh labor practices? That's right — all of it, and far more, follows from slavery.

Read the rest here.


  1. So, the NYT is asserting that slavery is the foundation of national greatness? That's an irresponsible and dangerous idea to be spreading.

  2. To borrow a phrase from RW, these folks are shallow thinkers. The defining element of "slavery" is using force to make another person do what you want. Does that not accurately describe the modern state-citizen relationship so beloved by these NYT writers?

  3. These folks are not shallow thinkers. They're propagandist arse*les. They know quite well that their idolatry of the Collective is moronic, and they want nothing of it for themselves. They are the caste of parasites who despise and fear productive people.