Guest Columnist

1619 Project is political propaganda, not history

Artist John Trumbull's
Artist John Trumbull's "Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776" depicts the presentation of the document in what is now called Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

State Rep. Skyler Wheeler

I love our country. I love the values, principles, and truths it was founded on. And I spend a lot of time away from my young, growing family to defend and promote those values nearly four hours away from my home. When I get attacked for standing up for those values, principles and truths, I wear it as a badge of honor. As usual, when someone does not like something, and they cannot make a logical argument against it, it is automatically racist.

Enter Todd Dorman’s poorly written column in The Gazette (“Iowa House bill would put a fresh coat of whitewash on history,” Jan 31).

The New York Times’ 1619 Project has been shredded by historians all over the country, across political spectra and from all different races and ethnicities. The face of the project, Nikole Hannah-Jones, made a historically false claim that the Revolutionary War was fought to preserve slavery. She later said some of the colonists fought the war to preserve slavery. Neither claim is true.

The 1619 Project certainly did spur a nationwide conversation. Had the project’s goal been to simply bring more African American stories to light, like the 1776 Unites project does, that would’ve been wonderful.

Had it been factually and historically accurate, that would’ve been great as well. But neither of these are true.

It viciously attacks our founding in a way we have never seen. And it does so not for a conversation on history but rather to make a case for why we need to pass all the Marxist garbage the radical left is pushing around the country.

It’s not history, it’s politics.

This project argues the reason conservatives will not pass Medicare for All, why our prison system is in rough shape and why we have suburban traffic jams is because we were founded on slavery, racism and bigotry.

Robert Woodson, the founder of the 1776 Unites project, states, “Throughout America, we are witnessing widespread self-destruction and devastation that is the consequence of the perversion of the values that once united us and protected us from both internal and external enemies.”

Would we rather be united behind the values that made America great, or behind “one of the most diabolical, self-destructive ideas that I’ve ever heard,” as Woodson states? That’s an easy one.

Dorman states, “It scrubs the whitewash from our national narrative, boldly reframing the history of great white men we were taught in school.”

That is ludicrous. Are Dinesh D’Souza, Robert Woodson, Carol Swain and Latasha Fields “whitewashing” history by opposing this project? Nobody opposing this project wants to bury the evils of slavery from our history. We should teach about it, as well as the many stories of Black Americans who have contributed so much to our great country (like the 1776 Unites project is doing).

This past summer, the reality of the 1619 Project was seen on full display. Hannah-Jones tweeted that it was “an honor” for the rioting, looting and chaos to be called the “1619 Riots.” Why would that be an honor? Was it an honor because Black neighborhoods, businesses and lives were destroyed? Was it an honor because a Black soldier’s memorial was destroyed, and a statue of Frederick Douglass was toppled in Rochester? Or was it because statues of Washington, General Grant and Abraham Lincoln were destroyed?

Back to the question at hand: Does the 1619 Project belong in our taxpayer-funded classrooms being taught as history?

Samuel Gregg, a Research Director at the Acton Institute, stated, “History curricula, however, should accurately represent facts, place them in their proper context and draw on a range of sources. In these areas, the 1619 Project comes up short.”

I could not agree more.

As the 14th century Muslim scholar Ibn Khaldun points out, civilizations rise and advance when they have a sense of group feeling, or social cohesion. They fall when they do not. Yaya Funusie, a former CIA analyst and contributor to the 1776 Unites project, says this “group feeling” or “social cohesion” that Khaldun mentions is translated today to mean patriotism.

Why would taxpayers want to fund the hatred of their country?

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Whether or not the legislature should be dictating curricula to local schools is certainly a valid question. However, the Legislature absolutely has an interest in preventing divisive, historically and factually inaccurate, and politically driven propaganda masquerading as history curriculum from being used in taxpayer-funded schools.

Skyler Wheeler of Orange City represents District 4 in the Iowa House.

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