Trump’s 1776 Commission defends nation’s founding, compares progressivism to racism

Members of President Trump’s 1776 Commission are calling for “patriotic education that teaches the truth of America” and identifying “progressivism” and “racism and identity politics” among the challenges to America’s principles. 

The commission, officially established by Trump in November, argues in a report released on the federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday that Americans must “stand up to the petty tyrants in every sphere who demand that we speak only of America’s sins while denying her greatness” while not “ignoring the faults in our past.”

The report also condemns claims that the Founding Fathers were “hypocrites” for advancing rights and freedoms for “all men” while defending the practice of slavery.

“This charge is untrue, and has done enormous damage, especially in recent years, with a devastating effect on our civic unity and social fabric,” the commission writes. 

“Many Americans labor under the illusion that slavery was somehow a uniquely American evil,” the authors continue.

“It is essential to insist at the outset that the institution be seen in a much broader perspective,” they wrote, adding that “the unfortunate fact is that the institution of slavery has been more the rule than the exception throughout human history.”

The report goes on to say that “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 commission then rebukes “identity politics,” which it argues “teaches that America itself is to blame for oppression.” 

“First, the creed of identity politics defines and divides Americans in terms of collective social identities. According to this new creed, our racial and sexual identities are more important than our common status as individuals equally endowed with fundamental rights,” the commission members argue, adding that identity politics “divides Americans into two groups: oppressors and victims.” 

“Identity politics divide Americans by placing them perpetually in conflict with each other,” the authors write. “All Americans, and especially all educators, should understand identity politics for what it is: rejection of the principle of equality proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence.” 

The commission, chaired by longtime Trump ally Larry Arnn and former Vanderbilt University law professor and conservative television analyst Carol Swain, also includes other high-profile conservatives including activist Charlie Kirk, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) and Brooke Rollins, Trump’s domestic policy adviser.

The 1776 Commission was formed as a response to The New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project, which focuses on the country’s history of slavery and racism. Trump has claimed the 1619 Project teaches students to “hate their own country,” though supporters have said it urges the country to address its complicated past. 

The commission’s goal as stated in Trump’s November executive order is “to better enable a rising generation to understand the history and principles of the founding of the United States in 1776, and, through this, form a more perfect Union.” 

While Trump’s appointments on the commission are for two years, it is unclear if the group will meet again once President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

Tags 1619 project 1776 Commission Charlie Kirk Donald Trump Founding Fathers Identity politics Joe Biden legacy of slavery Mississippi Phil Bryant Progressivism in the United States The New York Times White House

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