Trump ends term with ‘patriotic education’ report which makes excuses for slavery and calls anti-abortion movement ‘great reform’

Gustaf Kilander
·4 min read
Donald Trump pulls off his protective face mask at the White House after returning from Covid treatment at Walter Reed Medical Center on 5 October, 2020 (REUTERS)
Donald Trump pulls off his protective face mask at the White House after returning from Covid treatment at Walter Reed Medical Center on 5 October, 2020 (REUTERS)

The White House has released a report by the 1776 commission that pushes for "patriotic education" that teaches the country's history with "with reverence and love" and says that slavery was not "a uniquely American evil".

The commission, which was created in response to The New York Times Magazine’s 1619 project which “reframes American history around the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans”, released their report on MLK day.

The report attempts to defend slave-owning founding fathers against charges that they were hypocrites who “didn’t believe in their stated principles,” and that “the country they built rests on a lie". The report claims that "this charge is untrue, and has done enormous damage, especially in recent years, with a devastating effect on our civic unity and social fabric".

The commission argues in the document that the institution of slavery should be seen from "a much broader perspective" and that "the unfortunate fact is that the institution of slavery has been more the rule than the exception throughout human history".

The report criticises "identity politics," which is mentioned 39 times in the 45-page document. It says that socialism is "less violent than Communism," but that it "is inspired by the same flawed philosophy and leads down the same dangerous path of allowing the state to seize private property and redistribute wealth as the governing elite see fit".

It goes on to defend the second amendment, saying: "An armed people is a people capable of defending their liberty no less than their lives and is the last, desperate check against the worst tyranny."

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The White House website says that the report presents "a definitive chronicle of the American founding," and is "a rebuttal of reckless 're-education' attempts that seek to reframe American history around the idea that the United States is not an exceptional country but an evil one".

The report puts the movement to end abortions in America in the same group as the movement to end slavery, the civil rights movement, and the movement to achieve votes for women, under the banner of "great reforms".

"Great reforms—like abolition, women’s suffrage, anti-Communism, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Pro-Life Movement—have often come forward that improve our dedication to the principles of the Declaration of Independence under the Constitution," the report says.

American Historical Association president Jim Grossman called the report "a hack job. It’s not a work of history," according to The Washington Post.

“It’s a work of contentious politics designed to stoke culture wars," he said. Public historian Alexis Coe said, “This ‘report’ lacks citations or any indication books were consulted, which explains why it’s riddled in errors, distortions, and outright lies.”

Boston University historian Ibram Kendi tweeted that the report makes it seem as if "the demise of slavery in the United States was inevitable".

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Eric Rauchway, a history professor at the University of California, Davis told The Washington Post that “It’s very hard to find anything in here that stands as a historical claim, or as the work of a historian. Almost everything in it is wrong, just as a matter of fact... I may sound a little incoherent when trying to speak of this because the report itself is not coherent. It’s like historical whack-a-mole.”

The report claims that affirmative action goes against everything Martin Luther King stood for. Princeton historian Kevin M. Kruse said that this "is simply ludicrous".

He told The Washington Post: “King was alive when the Johnson administration launched its affirmative action programs and publicly declared his support, specifically noting that it was a logical extension of the struggle for black equality. The document ignores King’s record of support for affirmative action, lamely pointing to the one line conservatives know from his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech and ignoring the rest of his radical record. The fact that this historical distortion of King’s life and work was released on MLK Day makes it even worse.”

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