You don’t have to agree with the historical interpretations of Leon Trotsky’s old Fourth International to respect and benefit from the institutional stance it has taken–almost alone–against the false statements printed, and sensationalized, by the New York Times in the introduction to its ‘1619 Series.’ All who care about this nation’s history of slavery and racism, and all who reject the efforts of powerful institutions to falsify that history, should read the interviews of eight reputable scholars reprinted here. Those eight interviews–along with public statements made elsewhere by historians Leslie Harris and Peter Colcanis–call the New York Times to account for its dishonesty. They show that we can still rely on some academic professionals–if only these ten–to demand and defend the truth about our racist past. The historians’ profession as a whole declined to hold “the’ Times responsible for its falsehoods–even as that once distinguished paper began to hype its false mythology as a pre-fab curriculum as a magical way for schools to inoculate themselves against charges of racism.
Most of the historical profession continues to temporize, prevaricate, or remain conspicuously off the record. Thus the profession enables the Trump administration’s equal and opposite mythology, ‘1776,’ to occupy the only alternative space in the broad public view of our mass-mediated world. The alleged paper of record could have discreetly retracted its mistakes, in time-honored fashion, and moved on. Instead, it insisted it had nothing to apologize for. It presents itself, almost unchallenged, as the authority best equipped to reform America’s history curriculum and, more hilariously, as the vanguard of a new mass movement of opposition to racism. This book contains enough material to show that honest students of the American past, and honest journalists, can do better. Interested readers can get the honesty they deserve, if they are willing to demand it. I’m dropping my subscription to the NY Times long enough to pay for this book.
David Chappell’s blurb of David North and Thomas Mackaman, eds, The New York Times’ 1619 Project and the Racialist Falsification of History.
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