1619 project
The Battle for America’s and Israel’s Understanding of its True Soul & Selfhood

How the United States of America and Jewish Nation State first were born is at the heart of the battlelines that have been drawn now between all those who hate America’s 1619 Project, that endeavors to tell students of American history and culture what it contends is the true story of its birth and development as a nation, and all those who also equally love the exclusivity of Israel’s Jewish Nation-State and its biblical-scriptural origins and its own peculiar, skewed version of what constitutes its own racial and religious democracy founded on democratic principles. Both nations go out of their way every chance they get to joyfully laud themselves and one another for their mutual understanding of what they claim is their true soul and selfhood as a people and what they believe to be the truly lofty democratic principles upon which they contend their nations were originally founded and to which they still adhere.

On the other side of the battlelines that have been drawn in both America and Israel are those who seek to tell what they think is the real truth, beyond all the propaganda, narrative spin, and hyperbole of how and why each nation first was formed, who contend there should not only be a 1619 Project but a 1948 Project that, like a social, political and religious lightning rod, also explores Israel’s true origins, and the harsh realities of the similar racist, genocidal practices that both America and Israel have perpetrated since their beginnings, and continue to perpetrate, against their own Black and Brown indigenous citizenry, that flies in the face of the way they have falsely come to view themselves and project their much ballyhooed democratic values and principles of how human beings should govern themselves.

WHAT LIES AT THE HEART OF THE 1619 PROJECT

The 1619 Project was originally inaugurated by the New York Times Magazine & Pulitzer Center that challenged America and Americans in general, and historians in particular, to reframe U.S history by posing to them the question “Why should Americans know about the year 1619?” The year – 1619 – being when the first twenty enslaved Africans were transported by the British to the British colony of Virginia in the New World and sold to the new colonists, who later went on to become one of the United States earliest foundational dates. America wasn’t yet then America, but this subsequently was the moment when the colonization of the New World began with purpose and intention.

The 1619 Project, subsequently created by the Pulitzer Center, produced school curriculum materials 250 years of slavery that has followed whose premise was that no aspect of the nation that eventually would be formed has been untouched. At its core, the Project sought to explore the Idea of America and legacy that slavery then, and ever since, has had on the evolution of American culture and its systemic legacy of racial injustice, pervasive racism, a skewed criminal justice system that remains alive and well to this day, and the ideological propaganda that has been created to cover it over and obfuscate the truth.

A seminal essay of the 1619 Project’s collection of relevant materials was created by Nikole Hannah-Jones, a New York Times journalist, who oversaw the Project and later won a Pulitzer Prize for her work on it. Hannah-Jones efforts in this regard was meant to honor the 400th anniversary of this fateful moment in history and tell the whole story as truthfully as possible. Her basic premise was, as she writes, “Our founding ideals of liberty and equality were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought ever since to make them true”.

But the University of North Carolina (UNC) denied Hannah-Jones her professorship tenure on its faculty, over the recommendation of the journalism department, based upon the single dissenting voice of Walter Hussman Jr., a conservative, right-wing newspaper baron, publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, whose family owned a chain of newspapers from Tennessee to Missouri, and Hussman himself donated $25Million to UNC’s journalism school that later was named after him and had inscribed on the front of its school of journalism a principle of Walter Hussman Jr. that speaks to “credibility being the greatest asset of any news medium and impartiality its greatest source of credibility”. The only problem in this particular case being, though, is that it, perhaps, calls more into question Hussman and his own impartiality and credibility as a journalist than it does that of Ms. Hannah-Jones. The upshot of Hussman’s biased, heavy-handed actions is that it set off a maelstrom that continues to this day between the ire of other radical right-wing conservatives against all those who might be described as critical race theory scholars. North Carolina schools already have even crafted radical reactionary rules for teachers and what not to teach and what to teach about racism in American culture and society.

LAWMAKERS AND RIGHT WING JOURNALISTS DRAWN INTO THE MAELSTROM

Lawmaker’s, following the lead of Walter Hussman Jr. in a number of Republican-led states already are now in the process of passing laws to limit critical race theory (CRT) that seek to muzzle what and how teachers, following the guidelines of the 1619 Project, can teach and discuss with their students the question of race, race relations, the history of slavery with direct reference to the Project.

The vicious outrage and bigotry that has manifested against the 1619 Project by many radical, right-wing conservative elements in American culture continues to escalate the closer the country comes to its 2022 By-Election. The mounting tensions haven’t been lost on John Duffy, English professor and faculty fellow of the Klaus Center for Civil and Human Rights at Notre Dame University. Professor Duffy says of the tsunami of negative criticism of the 1619 Project, “Many of the critiques of the Project seem cynically opportunistic – gasoline-powered into the trash can fires of the culture wars.”

Criticisms by various historians who have faulted the 1619 Project have been many and varied for misrepresenting: the cause of the American Revolution; distorting the legacy of Abraham Lincoln; discounting the contributions of White allies in the struggle racial against racial injustice, and; for dismissing American’s aspirations of freedom and equality as hypocrisy. Historian Sean Wilentz, a student of U.S. Political and Social history, who received his PhD, in history from Yale University, who edited books on “Major Problems in the Early Republic”; “The Age of Raegan” and “Bob Dylan in America”, has termed the Project cynical. While Allan Guelzo, a former professor of history at Gettysburg College, who serves as Sr. Research Scholar in the Council of Humanities in the James Madison Program at Princeton University, has argued that, “The 1619 Project is not history; it’s conspiracy theory”. Still other right-wing criticisms have variously labeled the Project “agitprop”, “Un-America”, “socialism” and “garbage history”.

David Kirkland, executive director of New York University’s Metro Center, asserts that Americans need to have courageous conversations about race and culture because too many Americans still don’t know who they are or where they come from. Kirkland says, “It’s not that we are not a human race. It’s that America was constructed on the idea that there are people of different races, with whites on the top and blacks on the bottom.”

Critical Race theory has been around since the 1970’s when scholars first saw the shortcomings of the Civil Rights Movement and its focus on racial equality through color blindness, controversial affirmative action measures and the reality of racism, not as a biological fact but as a reality that had long been enshrined in U.S. law and other institutions, specifically to maintain America’s foundational domination of the white people who held most of the power..

Yet in a report (“Capitalism in the 1619 Project”), by the Heritage Foundation, an American right-wing conservative think tank, the 1619 Project is criticized as “insufficiently celebratory of American Capitalism”. Its report primarily asserts the Project overstates slavery’s importance in U.S. economic history. Critics of the Foundation otherwise say its report instead shows a remarkable lack of self-awareness regarding its own embeddedness in a political project to mobilize the past in the service of a particular vision of the future.

Whereas Professor Rockman, of the Great Lakes Center for Educational Research, that represents over 600,00 members in seven states, concludes the Heritage Foundation’s report commits the exact same sin with which it besmirches the 1619 Project: substituting ideology and political motives for an accurate engagement with the past. Still other right-wing politicians, like Newt Gingrich has branded the Project a lie, and Donald Trump conflates the Project with critical race theory, declaring the Project as “toxic propaganda, and ideological poison that, if not removed, will dissolve our country” Finally, at the federal and state levels, conservative lawmakers currently seek to ban the teaching of the Project.

At its core, the pushback against the 1619 Project isn’t really about ensuring that all students are treated with dignity in schools or are provided with the real truth of at all. It’s about ensuring that white students don’t learn that their country has a long history of systemic oppression towards people of color and a whole host of other traditionally marginalized groups

A FINAL MESSAGE OF TRUTH TO ALL THE CRITICAL RACE THEORY HATERS

The hotly-debated questions surrounding the 1619 Project, is the extent to which slavery and race played a critical role in the American Revolution and still plays in the politics, economy and culture of the American State.

But a recent Time Magazine bombshell essay by historian Robert G. Parkinson, an associate professor of history at Binghampton University, and the author of “Thirteen Clocks: How Race United the Colonies and Made the Declaration of Independence” emphatically turns on its head all the arguments made by the race haters who remain critical of any attempt to teach or pose critical race theory argument about America’s origins.

Professor Parkinson’s essay, “You Can’t Tell the Story of 1776 Without Talking About Race and Slavery”, argues that it is indeed impossible to actually understand what happened in 1619, 1776 and ever since without recognizing the critical, over-riding importance of race and slavery in America.

Parkinson’s essay boldly contends, “SLAVERY and arguments about race were not only at the heart of the American founding; it was what united the states in the first place. We have been reluctant to admit just how thoroughly the Founding Fathers thought about, talked about, and wrote about race at the moment of American independence……..Colonists really didn’t know or particularly like one another. They fought with each other all the time. But you can’t tell the story without it”

Despite Parkinson’s insights into how deeply race was embedded in the patriot cause, the controversy this has since enflamed the radical right-wing in America over critical race theory philosophy has fueled the public debate about the centrality of race to American history. As a part of that debate, which has been ongoing since the publication of the 1619 Project, the nation’s founding origin continues to come under severe scrutiny.

Long-standing prejudices about Black people, what modern society today would call ‘blatant racism’, forced the colonies to come together as one union, but that effort also buried race deep within the cornerstone of the American republic the race issue from the time it was born.

HATERS OF AMERICA’S 1619 PROJECT & LOVERS OF ISRAEL’S JEWISH NATION-STATE LAWS:

TWO PEAS FROM THE SAME POD

For years, this writer has written countless articles that have sought to raise the level of conscious awareness of the historical similarities of the plight of Black and Brown peoples everywhere in the America’s of the New World, and especially in what has since come to be known as the ‘United States’, at the hands of the constant diaspora specifically of White, Christian, European colonizers at the constant expense of many indigenous peoples, their ways and dramatically-different world views.

That same journalistic intent and zeal has often been applied as well  to the similar plight suffered by Black and Brown indigenous peoples of the Old World, and especially in the Occupied Territories of Palestine in what has since become known as ‘Israel’, at the hands of yet another diaspora, this time of White, Jewish colonizers. The constant expansionistic dreams and aspirations of both aggressive, ruthless American and Jewish colonizers one and the same – two peas from the same pod.

In this sense, it’s totally understandable why America and Israel would consider themselves to be such close allies, ideologically and philosophically, and why they constantly tout, when the truth is just the opposite, each other’s governments and ways of life as representing the same lies of democratic principles and values upon which they both are said to have been founded.

But America’s 1619 Project and Israel’s Jewish Nation-State Laws that can be traced back to its 1948 origins clearly say otherwise. What this writer never has been able to fully comprehend is the extent to which White Christian America and White Jewish Israel, as supposed lofty models of democracy and paragons of democratic virtue, have otherwise demonstrated so much similar amoral, insensitive, unempathetic behaviour and blindness to the roles they’ve played as genocidal colonizers and racists towards all those indigenous peoples they’ve ever violently displaced or totally eradicated.

Nothing this one has ever sought to document about this heinous process has seemingly ever made any kind of meaningful impact in the general conscious awareness of both colonizers. The mutual juggernauts of each succeeding U.S. President, their Administration’s, and the sum total of all their elected Senators and members of Congress, as well as each succeeding Prime Minister of Israel and its elected bodies of the Knesset within the Jewish Nation-State, simply continue to steamroll over every living race, culture and species of life that gets in their way.

Then, when the same hostility and hatred shown by American radical, right-wing ideologues towards the educational efforts of those brave and bold ones who seek to undertake the 1619 Project, or others who bravely try to create a BDS Movement to stop Israel’s crimes against humanity against the Palestinian people, they all are equally ridiculed and met with the greatest of derision by even the citizenry of their own nation’s.

But, at one point, this writer finally got it. He got it as more and more critics of the Project continue to come out of the woodwork to disparage and assault the good intentions of all those involved in the Project. He got it again when Israel’s High Court upheld Israel’s clearly racist-genocidal Jewish Nation-State Law that reduces every Palestinian into a second-class citizen. He got it, too, when all ten of Israel’s so-called ‘liberal’ Jewish judges voted to keep the blatantly-discriminatory Jewish Nation-State Law, overwhelmingly passed by Israel’s Knesset in 2018, that constitutionally-codified the status of Palestinians as second-class citizens, while at the same time afforded special privileges to Jews both within Israel and abroad.

He got it, again, when U.S. President Biden and the vast majority of elected Democratic and Republican politicians, duly elected by the American people themselves, choose to look the other way each time another 20-50-100 Million dollars of American taxpayer’s monies are sent to help Israel continue to expand upon its de-facto segregation policies and persecution of Palestinian people.

He gets it, still yet again, every time so much hatred continues to be shown by America’s politicians and lawmakers who seek to muzzle the 1619 Project, just like Israel’s Knesset politicians who herald its Nation-State Law that makes no mention of equality for dispossessed Palestinians in the Jewish Nation-States vast array of de-facto discrimination against them for everything from: land acquisition and ownership to housing and immigration policies that are manifestly racist and genocidal, such as the Admission Committee Law, which enables the segregation of Palestinians within the Jewish State. Or the Nakba Law that seeks to undermine the right of Palestinians to even commemorate the historic 1948 invasion of Palestine by Jewish terrorists and guerrilla units. Or the Jewish Nation-State’s Citizenship Law which bans Palestinian family’s efforts at family unification.

THE FARCICAL PARADE OF THE JEWISH NATION-STATE CONTINUES

The Jewish Nation-State sees no problem with constantly parading out with pride its concept of Israeli democracy that enshrines the second-class status of its non-Jewish citizenry with the demotion of Arabic in Jewish society, while claiming that Arabic equality is something to be swept, as it were, under the rugs and left for some future, distant generation to decide upon. Israel’s Jewish Nation-State doesn’t even consider Judaism as a diverse religion but as one identity that guarantees its inherent supremacy over all other people, including other Jews, by its official definition of Israel as the exclusive homeland of the Jewish people; a homeland in which Palestinian citizens are increasingly dispossessed and their language and culture excluded from Israeli society. Politics As Usual in Israel is what best describes the forever-escalation of Palestinian repression.

EVEN THE BEST AND THE BRIGHTEST SUCCUMB TO THE JEWISH DIASPORA MIND-SET

The late Ruth Gavison, a one-time renowned Israeli scholar, winner of the Israel Prize, law professor of the prestigious Hebrew University of Jerusalem and founder of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, once considered a pioneer of Jewish liberalism, wasn’t immune to the constant brainwashing barrage that Israel’s citizenry constantly undergo that leads them to espouse the same reactionary, illiberal positions about real equality for Palestinian people.

Gavison’s position on equality for non-Jews in the Jewish Nation-State typifies the inherent contradictions that exist between demography and democracy in the modern Jewish State. Her support for Israel’s Admissions Committee Law, that grants ethnic-cultural communities the right to exclude people who don’t fit in, created and justified the basis of the Jewish Nation-State’s racist principle that underlies its “separate but equal” status of Palestinians. The Jewish Nation-State Law not only ignores the idea of equality but focuses solely upon the national right of Jewish citizens without even mentioning how Israel’s non-Jewish minorities should be treated.

AMERICA’S OWN FORM OF DEMOCRACY ALSO REMAINS DETACHED FROM REALITY

No real empathy exists in Israel among its Jewish citizenry, towards what its non-Jewish minorities must face every day. It’s not much different in the United States. Those like President Biden, as well as most Democrat and Republican politicians of the U.S. Congress, unequivocally blindly support, in every which way, Israel’s racist, genocidal society and culture. They, too, remain detached from, and blind to, the disastrous impact that Israel’s Jewish Nation-State Law, and the tyranny that the Jewish majority can exercise upon its non-Jewish minority population. If the same conditions were applied in the United States towards its own minority citizenry there would most certainly probably explode, over-night, another American Revolutionary War.

If these same conditions that still exist in both America and Israel in different ways were equally grasped, President Biden, his administration, its elected politicians and lawmakers, as well as the corporate mainstream press would absolutely offer no resistance, restrictions or objections whatsoever to the teaching principles embodied in the 1619 Project. Likewise, there should also not be any resistance, restrictions or objections in the future to some kind of similar 1948 Project in Israel.

Jerome Irwin is a Canadian-American writer who once upon a time in university was a Criminology student while working in one of America’s local police departments. For decades, Irwin has especially sought to call world attention to problems of environmental degradation and unsustainability caused by a host of environmental-ecological-spiritual issues that exist between the conflicting world philosophies of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. Irwin is the author of the book, “The Wild Gentle Ones; A Turtle Island Odyssey” (www.turtle-island-odyssey.com), a spiritual odyssey among the native peoples of North America that has led to numerous articles pertaining to: Ireland’s Fenian Movement; native peoples Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance Movement; AIPAC, Israel & the U.S. Congress anti-BDS Movement; the historic Battle for Palestine & Siege of Gaza, as well as; the many violations constantly being waged by industrial-corporate-military-propaganda interests against the World’s Collective Soul
jerome_irwin@yahoo.com


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