President Donald Trump downplayed the history of slavery in the United States and denounced antiracism education during his speech at the White House History Conference on Thursday.
During a speech that marked the 233rd anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, the President glossed over the legacy of slavery and the uphill battle for civil rights in America, claiming that the nation’s founding “set in motion the unstoppable chain of events that abolished slavery, secured civil rights, defeated communism and fascism and built the most fair, equal and prosperous nation in human history.”
This simplistic portrayal of American history, however, fails to acknowledge reality. Progress has not been and will probably never be a smooth chain reaction.
Trump’s version of history fails to mention Jim Crow laws, the civil rights movement, or the fact that slavery wasn’t abolished until 89 years after America’s founding.
It also assumes that the fight against racial injustice is over. It’s not.
The President went on to insist that schools are shaming students and parents for their “whiteness,” falsely claiming that what children are learning about slavery and race is “toxic propaganda” and “a form of child abuse.”
Keeping with this theme, Trump unveiled his plan to sign an executive order to establish a national commission to promote patriotic education called the 1776 Commission.
The commission would help fund a patriotic curriculum for schools that would teach students “about the miracle of American history.”
“Our youth will be taught to love America with all of their heart and all of their souls,” he said.
The decision is a clear pushback against the 1619 Project, which highlights the lasting effects of slavery and the contributions of African Americans.
Published as a collection of essays in the New York Times Magazine in 2019, the project has since evolved into educational materials for all grades, which teachers and schools can implement into their history curriculum if they so choose.
“American parents are not going to accept indoctrination in our schools, cancel culture at work, or the repression of traditional faith, culture, and values in the public square. Not anymore,” Trump said.
This is not the first time the President has criticized the 1619 Project. Just last week, he threatened to pull federal funding from public schools that use the project to teach US history.
Nikole Hannah-Jones, the journalist who spearheaded the project, accused Trump of trying suppress free speech, claiming that the President was using his authority “to censor a work of American journalism by dictating what schools can and cannot teach and what American children should and should not learn.”
Trump’s remarks are just part of the latest installment in his crusade to rewrite history, downplay the effects of slavery, and deny the reality of systemic racism in America.
Sanitizing history will not undo over 400 years of damage. It will only shield people from the truth.