Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Civil War Scholar Rips Apart New York Times Reporting on Slavery

By Robert Wenzel

The favorite tactic of the modern-day shady left is to find something that was done wrong in the past, focus on it and claim that it is the root of everything since. They tie past and present together in a way they claim can never be separated.

Of course, at the same time, when you point out to them that socialism has led to rule by such ruthless mass murderers as Lenin, Mao, Stalin and Hitler, the reply is always that "real" socialism is different and has nothing to do with the real experience done in the name of socialism.

Their focus is always on an evil event, long in the past, that occurred during a period of relatively free markets. A scarlet letter of the evil event is pushed on all of us for all time by the shady left, even when it has nothing to do with us.

A case in point is the recent New York Times’ "1619 Project," which attempts to hang all of white America because of slavery, despite the fact that for many of us, our ancestors came here long after slavery was abolished.

The World Socialist Web recently interviewed  James M. McPherson, a Pulitzer Prize winner,  an American Civil War historian, and the George Henry Davis '86 Professor Emeritus of United States History at Princeton University, about the "1619 Project." Here are key snippets:
Q. What was your initial reaction to the 1619 Project?

A. Well, I didn’t know anything about it until I got my Sunday paper, with the magazine section entirely devoted to the 1619 Project. Because this is a subject I’ve long been interested in I sat down and started to read some of the essays. I’d say that, almost from the outset, I was disturbed by what seemed like a very unbalanced, one-sided account, which lacked context and perspective on the complexity of slavery, which was clearly, obviously, not an exclusively American institution, but existed throughout history. And slavery in the United States was only a small part of a larger world process that unfolded over many centuries. And in the United States, too, there was not only slavery but also an antislavery movement. So I thought the account, which emphasized American racism—which is obviously a major part of the history, no question about it—but it focused so narrowly on that part of the story that it left most of the history out.

Q. You mentioned that you were totally surprised when you found Project 1619 in your Sunday paper. You are one of the leading historians of the Civil War and slavery. And the Times did not approach you?

A. No, they didn’t, no.

Q. We’ve spoken to a lot of historians, leading scholars in the fields of slavery, the Civil War, the American Revolution, and we’re finding that none of them were approached. Although the Times doesn’t list its sources, what do you think, in terms of scholarship, this 1619 Project is basing itself on?...Nikole Hannah-Jones, the lead writer and leader of the 1619 Project, includes a statement in her essay—and I would say that this is the thesis of the project—that “anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country.”

A. Yes, I saw that too. It does not make very much sense to me. I suppose she’s using DNA metaphorically. She argues that racism is the central theme of American history. It is certainly part of the history. But again, I think it lacks context, lacks perspective on the entire course of slavery and how slavery began and how slavery in the United States was hardly unique. And racial convictions, or “anti-other” convictions, have been central to many societies.

But the idea that racism is a permanent condition, well that’s just not true. And it also doesn’t account for the countervailing tendencies in American history as well. Because opposition to slavery, and opposition to racism, has also been an important theme in American history.

Q. Could you speak on this a little bit more? Because elsewhere in her essay, Hannah-Jones writes that “black Americans have fought back alone” to make America a democracy.

A. From the Quakers in the 18th century, on through the abolitionists in the antebellum, to the radical Republicans in the Civil War and Reconstruction, to the NAACP which was an interracial organization founded in 1909, down through the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, there have been a lot of whites who have fought against slavery and racial discrimination, and against racism. Almost from the beginning of American history that’s been true. And that’s what’s missing from this perspective.

Beware the shady left, their real goal is the destruction of western civilization and they are not above lies and distortions to accomplish their goals. They view lies and distortions as simply tactics to reach a greater good. As Hayek pointed out:
The principle that the end justifies the means is in individualist ethics regardedas the denial of all morals. In collectivist ethics, it becomes necessarily the supreme rule; there is literally nothing which the consistent collectivist must not be prepared to do if it serves "the good of the whole", because the"good of the whole" is to him the only criterion of what ought to be done. The raison d'etat, in which collectivist ethics has found its most explicit formulation, knows no other limit than that set by expediency-the suitabilityof the particular act for the end in view. 

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.comand Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bankand most recently Foundations of Private Property Society Theory: Anarchism for the Civilized Person Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. His youtube series is here: Robert Wenzel Talks Economics. More about Wenzel here.


  1. For anyone interested in an extended discussion of McPherson’s thoughts there is in Thomas Sowell’s book, Black Rednecks and White Liberals, a section entitled “The Real History of Slavery” in which he refutes the idea that slavery was unique to the US. Slavery had a history going back thousands of year in which race was a visible difference between slaves and masters only in the Western Hemisphere.

  2. As a black man, I’ve fought against and continue to fight against the false narrative that 1619 Project, et al attempts to do which is place blacks in the category of perpetual victims because of slavery, racism, etc. So much so, that I’ve told my college-bound daughter who will attend a majority white university that if she doesn’t succeed “DO NOT come back home and make excuses about what white folks wouldn’t let you do.”

  3. What exactly was Hayek trying to say in that first sentence?

  4. Related is the recently released film Harriet about Harriet Tubman. I'm no expert on slavery but the film did portray a notable amount of whites who were anti slavery and who helped Harriet escape , hide, etc . And the most vicious murder (and the only murder which is
    Was portrayed in the film) was committed By a black against an abolitionist free black woman. Also, the son of Harriet's owner, who grew up with her, was the antagonist but still portrayed somewhat impartially.

    Compared to the tv miniseries roots, of alex haley, from the 1970's. That caused reaction which was very incendiary in society at that time in the multi-racial los Angeles suburbs. I was a ittle kid but I recall my older siblings had been allowed to quit the same sex Catholic high school and attended the public high school .... well during this ROOTS thing my oldest sister who is white, blonde hair, even bad a white car... 😁 a group of blacks who had been watching Lavar Burton's character Kunte Kinte /Toby get viciously scourged every night, they jumped on white girls car and began beating on it. Thankfully one of them recognized her & said "Hey, that's white boy's sister!" And they all got off the car and let her go.

    You see my brother was a jock, a brwwler, and the only white guy on the football team , so they respected him, and thus left his sister alone. 😃

    Compared to roots, especially in these racially obsessed incendiary times, Harriet deserves a medal.