“1619 Project” Is Back and As Slanderous as Ever!

COMMENTARY Civil Society

“1619 Project” Is Back and As Slanderous as Ever!

Feb 6, 2023 5 min read
Mike Gonzalez

Angeles T. Arredondo E Pluribus Unum Senior Fellow

Mike is the Angeles T. Arredondo E Pluribus Unum Senior Fellow at The Heritage Foundation.
Nikole Hannah-Jones speaks during The 1619 Project: Exclusive Screening & Pop-Up Exhibit launch party at The GRAMMY Museum on February 01, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. Timothy Norris / Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Key Takeaways

Hardcore woke leftists think that if they can alter America's perception of the past, they can control the present, own the future… and make a whole lot of money.

Hannah-Jones "portrays slavery as starting in Jamestown in 1619 and spreading from there to become the bedrock of American society. That's a false history, a myth."

Hannah-Jones is in the "white guilt business" and business is good—the truth be damned.

Hardcore woke leftists think that if they can alter America's perception of the past, they can control the present, own the future… and make a whole lot of money in the process.

Just pay close attention to Nikole Hannah-Jones.

It is pretty hard not to, in fact.

Her 1619 Project is now on Hulu, so you can't avoid seeing advertisements for it when you are looking for reruns of Frasier after a long day.

Or, the ubiquitous Hannah-Jones may be coming to a library near you, one you pay for with your taxes.

Just ask the folks in Fairfax, a leafy Virginia county 20 miles west of America's capital, whose public library has agreed to pay Hannah-Jones $29,350 for a one-hour talk this February 19.

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That apparently wasn't enough to afford Hannah-Jones, so the nearby McLean Community Center, also supported through a real estate surcharge, shelled out an additional $6,000. That comes out to $589 per minute—paid by all local taxpayers, whether they believe in her mission or not.

Not bad for a woman whose job it is to make Americans feel really, really shameful about their house, their life, their country, and everything else, because some people they never met, 200 years ago, benefited from a system they recognize as abhorrent: slavery.

Don't just take my word for it. By her own admission, Hannah-Jones plays on white people's sense of guilt.

“I'm not writing to convert Trump supporters. I write to try to get liberal white people to do what they say they believe in. I'm making a moral argument,” she said at the University of Chicago in October 2019. “My method is guilt.”

The 1619 Project is devoted to the idea that 1619 is the year of America's real founding, not 1776, when the Founders signed the Declaration of Independence in the middle of some unpleasantness with the Mother Country.

Why 1619? Because in August of that year a pirate ship brought 20 Angolans who were sold near the Jamestown port of Point Comfort, in the English colony of Virginia. That event started the United States, says Hannah-Jones and her defenders, because four centuries on, everything about America still has to do with slavery.

Never mind that, as with all the key claims of the 1619 Project, the story of the 20 Africans has been debunked. Peter Wood, the president of the National Association of Scholars and a man who, unlike Hannah-Jones, has a PhD, in anthropology, says that “The Africans were treated as indentured servants and soon released.”

Hannah-Jones, writes Wood, “portrays slavery as starting in Jamestown in 1619 and spreading from there to become the bedrock of American society. That's a false history, a myth.”

Her Hulu series likewise makes exaggerated claims that support her larger narrative that America is an oppressive, racist society.

In the series' first episode, Hannah-Jones goes back to her earlier assertion that the American colonists decided to break free because they feared that Britain was about to liberate the slaves.

When the claim was first made in the opening salvo of the 1619 Project in 2019, when the New York Times devoted an entire issue of its weekly magazine to the effort, historians howled so vociferously that the paper issued what was not quite a correction, but a “clarification.”

“We recognize that our original language could be read to suggest that protecting slavery was a primary motivation for all of the colonists,” said the paper in March 2020. “The passage has been changed to make clear that this was a primary motivation for some of the colonists.”

“Some” is such a vague word, making it perfect for Hannah-Jones' purpose. Notice that they didn't opt for the more descriptive phrase, "a majority of.”

Why not? Could it—gasp—not be true?

With her Hulu series, the obviously unchastened Hannah-Jones comes back for another bite at the apple, grasping at a different, tenuous piece of flimsy proof for her slanderous claim.

This is important to her because it obviously makes her point that the nation's Founding Fathers were not paragons of virtue seeking to create a nation devoted to liberty, but scheming, avaricious slave-drivers intent on maintaining their “white privilege.”

Hannah-Jones can't give up this central deceit because without it her “1619 Project” brand goes under.

She enlists the help of a revisionist history professor at the University of South Carolina, Woody Holton. He dramatically tells Hannah-Jones on camera that Virginia colonists only decided to take up arms because the Perthshire-born governor of the colony, John Murray, the Fourth Earl of Dunmore, promised to free those slaves that fought on the British side.

Again, real historians are baffled. “The scene is an authoritatively delivered pronouncement set to stunning cinematography, but it's also false history;” writes Phillip Magness, who obtained his Ph.D. in public policy at Virginia's George Mason University.

Dunmore's push to free the slaves couldn't have convinced the Virginia colonists to join the revolution, because they had largely already made up their minds.

Dunmore's “proclamation” wasn't issued from his governor's mansion, but from aboard the HMS William. He fled there five months earlier because his rebellious subjects were threatening to descend on his home.

His call to free the slaves wasn't the work of some great humanitarian. He was a slave-owner himself. It was the scheme of a desperate royalist stoking chaos.

Unsurprisingly, none of this history gets even a brief mention in Hannah-Jones' show.

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“There is no way we were going to steer away from [Lord Dunmore's significance],” Hannah-Jones told an admittedly friendly journalist at the Washington Post, “because it's correct.”

But even her ally at the Post couldn't avoid the inclusion of a back-bending-to-the-point-of-breaking caveat.

He dutifully noted that Princeton historian Sean Wilentz called this depiction of Dunmore, “highly misleading.”

So, why embark on this deceptive mission to blemish your country's history and its entire reason for existing?

All these things serve a purpose—in fact the Left's old purpose, which is massive wealth transfer.

Like Phineas Taylor Barnum (the celebrated 19th century American showman/huckster known to his friends and to history as P.T.) Hannah-Jones obviously thinks that a sucker is born every minute.

Her goal, as she told that University of Chicago audience, is “reparations,” to be paid to American blacks, by non-blacks.

This is a point she repeated in a massive, 8,500-word essay for the New York Times.

Readers who made it to the end would have read these words: “If we are to be redeemed, if we are to live up to the magnificent ideals upon which we were founded, we must do what is just. It is time for this country to pay its debt. It is time for reparations.”

Hannah-Jones is in the “white guilt business” and business is good—the truth be damned.

This piece originally appeared in the Daily Mail