Most worrying of all is the Times’ attempt, in conjunction with the Pulitzer Center (which is unaffiliated with the prize), to bring the 1619 Project into classrooms. Schools in Buffalo, Chicago, Washington DC and elsewhere have already announced they have adopted the project’s curriculum, with the Pulitzer Center claiming that 3,500 classrooms across the country are using its materials. This includes a lesson plan that calls for ‘all grades’ to read Hannah-Jones essay ‘in full’. In other words, an essay for a project that Hannah-Jones herself insists is ‘not a work of history’, is being taught as historical truth to thousands of impressionable young people.
The Times’ latest moves to downplay the more strident aspects of the 1619 Project are really a divide and conquer strategy. On the one hand, it wants to keep liberal opinion-makers onside, so it tweaks the project to make it appear less radical. And it can then claim only Trump and conservatives are opposed to the 1619 Project. On the other hand, the 1619 Project is free to roll full-steam-ahead into schools, and indoctrinate children into thinking they should be ashamed of their country, and that all black kids are victims, all white kids are oppressors.
Despite its latest setbacks, then, the 1619 Project is unlikely to fade away. To think it might is to underestimate the extent to which the American cultural elite has abandoned the country’s founding ideals and embraced a divisive and dangerous identity politics. Its members already believe America’s past is shameful, and that its people should feel guilt and express remorse. The 1619 Project has found an all-too-receptive audience.