The 1619 Downside: This past Sunday morning, a news report in the New York Times came with a bit of a bonus.
We refer to the featured news report in the newspaper's National section. In print editions, the report appeared beneath a banner headline. The layout looked like this:
NATIONALIn its essence, last Sunday's featured news report wasn't exactly "news." In the main, it was an account of a brutal event from American history, loosely tied to a current dispute in a very small rural community.
Reviving Faded Memories of the Violent ‘Red Summer’ of 1919
By John Eligon and Audra D. S. Burch
MILLEN, Ga.—Around the bend of a rural road in Eastern Georgia, towering pines give way to a gnatty glade dotted with aging tombstones and floral bouquets. Secluded and serene, it was the site of a horrific racial trauma.
A century ago, a white lynch mob set fire to an African-American church on this land just north of Millen, Ga., sending hundreds of black parents and their children scrambling out of windows in a frantic effort to escape. The mob, which was out to avenge the killing of two white law enforcement officers, would lynch at least three black males, including a 13-year-old, and leave the Carswell Grove Baptist Church in an ashy heap.
It is a little-known piece of history in a community where Southern politeness can mask racial strife. But on the centennial anniversary of the attack in 1919, efforts to acknowledge what happened have created unlikely allies.
Don't get us wrong! The report was interesting and well written. We'd be inclined to describe it as highly worthwhile history, especially when understood as such.
That said, the report is connected to a phenomenon we'd call "the 1619 downside." This starts with that small tiny "bit of a bonus" to which we alluded above.
That bonus appeared at the very start of Sunday's news report. Before you could read the news report itself, the bonus told you this:
[Race affects our lives in countless ways. To read more provocative stories on race from The Times, sign up for our Race/Related newsletter here.]In short, before you could read the news report, you were given a little lecture, helping you build an appropriate frame around what you would be reading.
Without any question, so-called race does affect our contemporary lives in countless ways. For starters, our culture tells us, in endless ways, that we all belong to a "race"—not that we'll all be treated that way, but that we actually do have a race, just as a matter of fact.
Leftish culture is now especially devoted to the idea that everybody has a race, and that a person's race defines that person's "identity." Also, that we are the ones who can tell that person what his "identity" is.
Needless to say, this concept of race has lay at the heart of American history. Sunday's featured news report discussed one gruesome example, an example from one hundred years ago.
The "news report" was well written. It discusses a brutal event. But even before you could read the report, you had to consume that little lecture, in which a bunch of unimpressive, Hamptons-based droogs instructed you in the way they now believe you should understand the world.
That little lecture comes to us from the world of The 1619 Project, an enterprise the Times' unimpressive editors have decided to center their efforts around.
They unveiled their undertaking on Sunday, August 18, telling us that "it is finally time to tell our [nation's] story truthfully." According to the unnamed editors, they were the ones who would finally accomplish that task, live and direct from the Hamptons.
Finally! Finally, a group of patriots was stepping forward, willing to tell us the truth! They defined their new project as follows:
The 1619 ProjectBy the editors' own admission, this was a major initiative. We the people would finally be allowed to know when our true founding occurred.
The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.
Finally! A remarkably spunky band was going to reconstruct the story we tell ourselves about "who we are." These unnamed patriots seemed to have committed their lives, their fortunes and their get-away second homes to this important task.
That said, the sheer pomposity of these people is matched by their simple-minded devotion to, and conception of, their task.
Almost surely, this project will produce some excellent, worthwhile work. Sunday's featured "news report" can be seen as one such offering.
That said, when bantamweights like those who predominate at the Times engage in cultural revolution, subscribers should go on alert. When cultural revolution breaks out, so does the propagandizing.
After that comes the finger-pointing and the blaming. Names start getting called, perhaps in a promiscuous manner.
We get handed our little lectures, after which we're allowed to read about an ugly episode from our nation's brutal racial history. In the process, though, the bantamweights excite the flyweights, and we're soon reading headlines like these:
A Suburb Believed in Liberal Ideals. Then Came a New Busing Plan.This is how dumb the flyweights can get at times of revolutionary zeal! We'd be inclined to call this sort of thing "the 1619 downside."
A school district confronts its segregated school system.
What was claimed by the person who composed those stirring headlines? According to that unnamed person, the liberal-leaning town of Maplewood, New Jersey is running a "segregated school system" even now, in 2019!
How do we know that Maplewood is running a "segregated school system?" As it turns out, we know that because one of its six elementary schools is majority black, while the other five elementary schools are majority white.
This spear was chucked by the Hamptons-based newspaper whose remarkably righteous editorial board lists two African-Americans, and no Hispanics, among its fifteen members. Go ahead—enjoy a laugh! These are the enrollment figures which prevail within two great Gotham realms:
Enrollment figures, black and HispanicYou can easily see the source of the moral authority! That said, the newspaper's current coverage of public schools strikes us as an example of "the 1619 downside."
New York City specialized high schools: 10.5% black and Hispanic
New York Times editorial board: 13.3% black and Hispanic
We say that for this reason:
The New York Times is now approaching public schools from the framework of "segregation," a deeply fraught part of American public school history.
Nothing else seems to matter. Nothing else seems to count.
The flyweights see public school "segregation" under every bed. Nothing else seems to matter. In particular, the lives and the interests of black and Hispanic kids don't much seem to count.
By tribal agreement, achievement gaps are disappeared. This lets our fervor about "segregation" be all.
Because the very large achievement gaps have been disappeared, no attempt is made to ask how they might be addressed. This is fortunate, of course, because that discussion would be both hard and boring.
When a foreign-born reporter is innocent enough to report the gaps in Maplewood as if they really exist, their relevance is completely ignored. Only "segregation" matters, and the Times finds it everywhere. As we noted yesterday, the work doesn't have to make sense.
Top anthropologists have been explaining the Times' behavior to us. They explain the matter in terms of the basic wiring of our deeply flawed but also self-impressed species.
According to these top future experts, we humans were never "the rational animal" at all! Instead, or so these experts say, we humans are essentially tribal. It's simply the way we're built.
At times of tribal division and cultural stress, our tribal lines will harden dramatically. According to international experts, this hard-wired process explains the bulk of the nonsense which is now emerging, with great regularity, from our frequently fatuous tribe.
Within our own liberal/progressive tribe, we're now defining tribal purity in terms involving race and gender. Our moral greatness and our tribal identity are being defined in terms of such issues, full stop.
This isn't a rational process, or at least so we've been told. It's a process of stress-induced tribal bonding, and it won't likely make sense.
Anthropologists tell us that widespread dumbness will almost always emerge at times of tribal stress. At times of stress, all stories will be bent to fit the preferred tribal framework. News events will be a hundred years old, and you'll be handed a little lecture before you can read about them.
It's maddening to read the way the Times treats the interests of low-income kids. That said:
"The people in question just aren't very sharp," these top major experts have said.
Tomorrow: The spirit of 1619 spreads to the Washington Post