city newspaper last month posted a poll which asked 18-20 year olds if they had learned six concepts related to critical race theory. These included: “America is a systemically racist country”, “White people have white privilege”, “White people have unconscious biases that negatively affect non-white people”, “America is built on stolen land,” “America is a patriarchal society,” and “Gender is an identity choice.
Each of these questions was answered in the affirmative by a majority of participants, more than 80% of whom attended public schools.
This is curious given that public educators and their advocates in the corporate media have been claiming for years that CRT is not taught in schools. ‘Teaching critical race theory doesn’t happen in classrooms, teachers say in survey’ reported NBC in July 2021. The Washington Postby Eugene Robinson in June 2021 called controversy on CRT “made”, while his colleague Karen Attiah the same month called him “hot air.”
Since then, the story has move towards “Well, various topics associated with CRT can be taught in public schools, but not CRT itself.” A November 2021 report of PBS, for example, explained, “There is little to no evidence that critical race theory itself is taught to public school students from K-12, although some core ideas…l have been.”
It’s naive if not dishonest. Few high school students know the names of the philosophical schools of Utilitarianism and Scientific Materialism, but most of them are educated on their premises.
There is an added dimension to this, given that the 1619 Project study programme has been broadcast nationwide at public schools responsible for teaching millions of students. There are other public school programs compatible with the CRT: the Southern Poverty Law Center has for years been pushing its “Teaching hard history” program, which has been adopted by many school districts, including in my state of Virginia.
Concerned parents need guides to respond effectively to these anti-racism programs, and thankfully researcher Mary Grabar has written one, titled Debunking the 1619 Project: Exposing the Plan to Divide America. Grabar, who has crossed swords with Project 1619 creator Nikole Hannah-Jones so many times that NHJ has blocked her on Twitter, offers a cautious rebuke to CRT’s problematic (and often misguided) claims. Grabar explains, “We need to understand the 1619 Project: its divisive aims and dishonest methods, its sweeping historical errors of judgment and its glaring errors of fact. And we must banish its poisonous lies and poisonings from public institutions, beginning with the official curricula of our schools.
The first chapters of the book deal with the historical inaccuracies and irresponsible reductionism of the many articles that appeared in the original essays published in the New York Times Review. (Revealingly, much of the project’s language was removed or changed following public backlash and criticism from respected professional historians, who said the authors replaced history with ideology.) example, put on the defensive by a backlash to his claims that 1619, not 1776, was America’s true founding, NHJ at one point asserted that the 1619 Project “does not claim that 1619 is our true foundation”. Still Hannah Jones herself previously tweeted, “I hold that 1619 is our true foundation.”
The glaring historical errors have been well covered elsewhere, so I will name just a few. The 1619 Project argues that the colonies declared independence “to protect the institution of slavery”, although there is virtually no historical evidence to support this. He asserts that American slavery was “unlike anything that had existed in the world before”, although any superficial study of the ancient world, medieval and post-medieval Africa and the Ottoman Empire puts an end to this idea. Barbary Coast slave traders alone enslaved and brutalized over a million Southern Europeans between 1500 and 1800. And NHJ fundamentally misinterprets the effect of the 1857 Dr Scott The Supreme Court’s decision, which, far from “enshrining” the idea that blacks were a “slave race”, likely accelerated the demise of this particular institution, given that the Civil War only began four years later.
Demystifying the 1619 project contains other information that may be less well known. This includes the fact that, contrary to NHJ’s claims of intellectual novelty, black Americans have been discussing and commemorating the arrival of a Portuguese slave ship in Jamestown in 1619 for over a century. There is also the complicated fact that many blacks profitably participated as slave owners in the pre-war Southern economy (Grabar does not mention this, but like many Native Americans). This in no way excuses the sins of white slave owners, but it certainly clouds the Manichean narrative preached by anti-racist ideologues.
Yet there is another element to this story beyond the bad story: the self-serving exploitation of the remarkably lucrative grievances industry by NHJ and other fellow anti-racist pseudo-intellectuals. She now charges around $25,000 per speaking engagement (between September 2019 and February 2021, she made around thirty-three appearances on college campuses, many of them remotely). Not too long ago, she won $55,000 for a single speech at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. white fragility author Robin DiAngelo in turn charges $30,000 for a sixty to ninety minute speech.
Americans, many driven by misplaced white guilt, are paying grievance industry celebrities to instill a spirit of resentment, cynicism and victimhood in an entire generation of young Americans. The data compiled by city newspaper demonstrates it. The same goes for peer-reviewed research on what social studies classrooms teach their students.
Consider an article in the peer-reviewed Social Studies Research Journal. The authors observe a teacher who provokes a class discussion about the failure of Galveston, Texas to heed warnings from Cuba before a 1900 hurricane destroyed the city. “It was just racist that we didn’t listen to them,” the students say. “Good answers,” the teacher told them.