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Trump’s 1776 Commission Releases a Literal Whitewash of U.S. History

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On the day before the election, Donald Trump signed an executive order establishing a “1776 Commission” to rewrite American history. This commission was intended to refute the New York Times’ 1619 Project, which told the story of American history from the view of African Americans. It was also, allegedly, an answer to “critical race theory,” which you can be sure Trump could not define. I thought this was a bad idea, since history should be written by historians, not by presidential commissions packed with cronies and ideologues.

On December 18, with 33 days left in his term in office, Trump announced the members of his commission, all predictably conservatives and reactionaries. The group was headed by Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn, a Trump ally. I called this “absurd.”

Many thought that the commission couldn’t possibly rewrite American history in the few days allowed to them, but miraculously they issued a report just a few days ago. Presumably, it was written before the commission ever met (if it ever met). The commission said that slavery was unfortunate but it was widespread and everyone did slavery. So there.

Talk about looking on the bright side!

Ironically, the not-long-awaited report was released on Martin Luther King Day. MSNBC host Chris Hayes said it read like a sophomore year term paper by Stephen Miller, Trump’s minister of hate. He interviewed Christina Greer, a professor at Fordham University, and said that Hayes was too generous. She said it read like the term paper of a sophomore in high school.

Peter Greene, who specializes in reading horrible reports so that others don’t have to, gave the report its due: It is awful. Beyond awful. It is rightwing drivel.

The 1776 Commission released their thing today, and pardon my French, Mom, but holy shit is it bad. You knew it was going to be bad. It’s really bad. You probably didn’t know that Progressivism is on the same Challenges to American Principles list with slavery and fascism. Slavery, by the way, is addressed primarily through a massive whataboutism. 45 pages, and every one of them is filled with horrific, racist, dumb, awful awfulness (okay, pages 2 and 4 are blank). 43 pages of awful (without any footnotes or endnotes or citations or bibliography in sight for this work of ultimate scholarship). I don’t have the time at the moment to pick apart all of it (I’ll link to it, but you really shouldn’t read it on a full stomach, and empty stomach, or at the end of a hard day)...

It’s like someone managed to take the 1950s version of squeaky clean white American life and mash it up with 1950s style Soviet Commie borg-style mind-melding. No critical thinking here. This is “education” that rejects pluralism, inquiry, actual thought and scholarship, while simultaneously nodding at and minimizing injustice, asserting that victims of such injustice should stay calm and love their country because it includes people who have the right values (and the right personal circumstances). 

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and may the Biden administration swiftly drop this damned thing into the deepest circular file in DC. 

President Joe Biden signed an executive order last night wiping out Trump’s 1776 Commission.

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