On Monday Donald Trump’s freshly formed 1776 Commission released a educational report that offended academics and historians across the country. The commission was created in response to the New York Times’ “1619 Project” which aims to highlight the lasting effects slavery has had on this country.
By contrast, Trump’s 1776 Commission aimed to do almost exactly the opposite. Their report, which Trump had hoped to inject into classrooms across the country, aims to downplay slavery’s role in American history, condemns the rise of progressive politics and makes the case that the civil rights movement of the 1960’s ran “afoul” of “lofty ideals.”
The report, which has been widely condemned by historians and academics around the country, is little more than state propaganda. Not only does it mis-represent this nation’s fraught history with rose-colored glasses, but many claim that it outright offers a false and outdated version of American history.
“It’s an insult to the whole enterprise of education. Education is supposed to help young people learn to think critically,” David Blight, a Civil War historian at Yale University told AP News. “That report is a piece of right-wing propaganda.”
Indoctrination programs like this are common in places like North Korea, and China, where the State has to control the historic narrative. It’s a useful tool for dictators who are trying to revise the established narrative. However, it seems that the general consensus is that such programs have no place in American classrooms.
Still, Donald Trump and his 1776 Commission had hoped that this report would become commonplace in American classrooms moving forward into the Biden administration. But the reception to this report was so heated, that President Joe Biden signed an executive order on his first day in office, throwing the report and the 1776 commission out entirely.
“Historians need to be paying attention to curriculum conversations in localities and at the state level,” James Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association told AP. “The nonsense that’s in this report will be used to legitimate similar nonsense.”