Mark Tapson is the Shillman Fellow on Popular Culture for the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
On his very first afternoon in office, newly-installed President Joe Biden showed exactly where his priorities lie – he scrubbed from the White House website the report from the 1776 Commission his predecessor Donald Trump had established to counter the New York Times’ mendacious, anti-American 1619 Project, and abolished the Commission itself.
“Look,” Biden stated during his recent remarks on his “racial equity” agenda,
in the weeks ahead I’ll be reaffirming the federal government’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and accessibility, building on the work we started in the Obama-Biden administration. That’s why I’m rescinding the previous administration’s harmful ban on diversity and sensitivity training and abolish the offensive counterfactual 1776 commission. Unity and healing must begin with understanding and truth, not ignorance, and lies.
Indeed, unity and healing must begin with understanding and truth, and with rejecting ignorance and lies. That is precisely what the 1776 Commission set out to do in its report summarizing “the principles of the American founding and how those principles have shaped our nation,” and that is precisely why the Biden administration wasted no time burying it and dissolving the Commission: because it targeted the ignorance and lies promoted in the 1619 Project, which has been slammed by hundreds of scholars for its attempt to establish the country’s founding not in 1776, but in the year that African slaves first arrived on the North American continent. The 1619 Project’s goal was to reinforce and propagate the subversive leftist worldview that the United States was founded in slavery and that, as Barack Obama put it, racism is in our very DNA.
The 40-page 1776 Report, issued on January 18, notes that the purpose of President Trump’s Advisory 1776 Commission was to “enable a rising generation to understand the history and principles of the founding of the United States in 1776 and to strive to form a more perfect Union.” The 16-member Commission, led by Churchill historian and Hillsdale College President Dr. Larry Arnn and vice chair Dr. Carol Swain, retired professor of political science, urges a restoration of “authentic” American education through which we can rediscover “our shared identity rooted in our founding principles”: “It is our mission – all of us – to restore our national unity by rekindling a brave and honest love for our country and by raising new generations of citizens who not only know the self-evident truths of our founding, but act worthy of them.”
Sounds innocuous enough, unless you believe American identity is rooted in white supremacy and requires a “fundamental transformation.” Scholar/historian Victor Davis Hanson, one of the Commission members, noted that “at any other age than the divisive present, the report would not have been seen as controversial.” But because it promotes the belief that being an American “means something noble and good” and that “America is the most just and glorious country in all of human history,” and because it rightfully condemns Progressivism, communism, racism and identity politics as challenges to American principles, angry leftists swiftly rose to de-legitimize it.
The headline of CNN reporter Maegan Vazquez’s article on the Report, for example, reads, “Trump administration issues racist school curriculum report on MLK day.” Her article itself offered no evidence that the Report is racist, but Vazquez surely knew that was unnecessary since most people read only the headlines of online articles, and she knew other mainstream media outlets would not challenge her accusation. A Washington Post headline claims that the Report “outrages historians,” who called it “a hack job,” and “outright lies.” Another WaPo piece adds at the outset that the Report was “immediately lambasted by historians as racist and false.” A New York Times headline notes that it is “derided by historians.” A Wesleyan University sociology professor writing at NBC News fear-mongered that it is “a dangerous alternate history” and claimed falsely that no historians contributed to it.
And on and on. Critics sneered at what they claimed is the Report’s attempt to whitewash American history and ignore any aspect of the past that tarnishes our country as less than heroic. But in fact the Report does no such thing. “Neither America nor any other nation has perfectly lived up to the universal truths of equality, liberty, justice, and government by consent,” it reads. “Comprising actions by imperfect human beings, the American story has its share of missteps, errors, contradictions, and wrongs” – slavery perhaps the most prominent among them. Telling the whole truth about our country “doesn’t mean ignoring the faults of our past, but rather viewing our history clearly and wholly, with reverence and love.” Unlike the left’s insistence that America is and always has been a white supremacist nation, the Report notes fairly that “[t]he foundation of our Republic planted the seeds of the death of slavery in America.”
But even-handedness about our country’s past and present is not a Leftist value; spreading propaganda is. All of the denunciations directed at the Report, in contrast to the media’s embrace of the Times’ debunked 1619 Project, confirms that it threatens the left’s cherished Narrative that America was, to borrow from “anti-racist” academic Ibram X. Kendi’s bestselling book title, “stamped from the beginning” with racism and slavery. Progressives will damn as racist any version of the story of our nation that does not affirm this divisive, race-mongering Narrative.
What really triggers the left about the Report is not only that it promotes a patriotic admiration for our country and its history and values, but that it accurately condemns Progressivism for its rejection of the Declaration of Independence’s self-evident truth of natural rights, in favor of group rights and rule by “credentialed managers” unaccountable to the people. It accurately condemns the Communist “legacy of anti-Americanism” which “still pervades much of academia and the intellectual and cultural spheres.” It accurately condemns identity politics as “fundamentally incompatible” with our principles for dividing Americans into a hierarchy of victimhood based on the immutable characteristics of race and sex. It accurately condemns the decline of American education under Progressive activists who “abuse their platform and dishonor every family who trusts them with their children’s education and moral development.”
Also triggering: the Report affirms the centrality of the family, which the left has worked hard to undermine per Karl Marx’s call for its abolition. The Report underscores the importance of faith and religious liberty, urging us to remain “one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” It calls for us “to stand up against the petty tyrants in every sphere who demand that we speak only of America’s sins while denying her greatness,” and instead share “timeless stories and noble heroes that inspire [Americans] to be good, brave, diligent, daring, generous, honest, and compassionate.” Try to imagine a Progressive supporting any or all of this.
This is the work Joe Biden scrubbed from the White House website, the patriotic work of a Commission he abolished on his very first day in office.
The Commission’s Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, vows that he and his fellow commissioners will continue meeting and fulfilling their mission despite Biden’s condemnation. The Heritage Foundation will also continue to host the 1776 Report, which you can find here. But don’t count on it being available indefinitely. “Cancel culture” will not rest until the truth about American greatness – flawed as it has been – is silenced. Download the Report for yourself, read it all, share it with friends, and teach it to your children and grandkids. They certainly won’t hear this invaluable perspective on our great country from most educators, media activists, Hollywood propagandists, or the current administration.