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Trump’s 1776 Commission Critiques Liberalism in Report Derided by Historians

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tags: teaching history, Donald Trump, 1776 commission



The White House on Monday released the report of the presidential 1776 Commission, a sweeping attack on liberal thought and activism that calls for a “patriotic education,” defends America’s founding against charges that it was tainted by slavery and likens progressivism to fascism.

President Trump formed the 18-member commission — which includes no professional historians but a number of conservative activists, politicians and intellectuals — in the heat of his re-election campaign in September, as he cast himself as a defender of traditional American heritage against “radical” liberals. Not previously known for his interest in American history or education, Mr. Trump insisted that the nation’s schools had been infiltrated by anti-American thought and required a new “pro-American” curriculum.

The commission formed part of Mr. Trump’s larger response to the antiracism protests, some of them violent, that followed the May killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis.

In his remarks at the National Archives announcing the commission’s formation, Mr. Trump said that “the left-wing rioting and mayhem are the direct result of decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools.”

The commission’s report charges, in terms quickly derided by many mainstream historians, that Americans are being indoctrinated with a false critique of the nation’s founding and identity, including the role of slavery in its history.

“Historical revisionism that tramples honest scholarship and historical truth, shames Americans by highlighting only the sins of their ancestors, and teaches claims of systemic racism that can only be eliminated by more discrimination, is an ideology intended to manipulate opinions more than educate minds,” the report says.

The report drew intense criticism from historians, some of whom noted that the commission, while stocked with conservative educators, did not include a single professional historian of the United States.

James Grossman, the executive director of the American Historical Association, said the report was not a work of history, but “cynical politics.”

“This report skillfully weaves together myths, distortions, deliberate silences, and both blatant and subtle misreading of evidence to create a narrative and an argument that few respectable professional historians, even across a wide interpretive spectrum, would consider plausible, never mind convincing,” he said.

 

Read entire article at New York Times

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