New York Times Union Hits Times Columnist Bret Stephens for Daring To Criticize the 1619 Project
Bret Stephens is a conventionally conservative columnist for The New York Times who tends to write about many of the same issues I cover for Reason: free speech on college campuses, illiberalism and incivility, cancel culture, etc. (I am occasionally critical of his columns, even when I agree with their general thrust.)
On Friday, he wrote a long piece about the 1619 Project, the Pulitzer-winning series of New York Times magazine articles spearheaded by Times reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones. The articles re-envisioned 1619—the year that African slaves first arrived in the English colonies in North America—as the America’s true founding. The project has drawn praise for calling attention to the country’s original sin of slavery, but also much criticism for factual errors and rhetorical exaggerations. Most notably, the 1619 Project wrongly claimed that preserving slavery was an important reason for the colonists’ rebellion against the British.
Stephens’ column takes great pains to praise Hannah-Jones for all that she was able to accomplish with the 1619 Project, which he hails as “ambitious” and “unabashedly patriotic.” But he also knocks Hannah-Jones for her mistakes, and he calls her out for committing a rhetorical slight-of-hand: Both Hannah-Jones and Times magazine editor Jake Silverstein have denied ever claiming that they proposed 1619 as an alternative date for the true American founding. This is simply false: As I have shown in two recent articles, they absolutely billed the 1619 Project this way. In fact, Hannah-Jones claimed that this was the point of the 1619 Project as recently as September 15.
Stephens presents yet more evidence:
I emailed [Hannah-Jones] to ask if she could point to any instances before this controversy in which she had acknowledged that her claims about 1619 as “our true founding” had been merely metaphorical. Her answer was that the idea of treating the 1619 date metaphorically should have been so obvious that it went without saying.
She then challenged me to find any
Article from Latest – Reason.com