[Marxism] Behind the attack on New York Times Project 1619 | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Dec 24 15:17:45 MST 2019

Last August, the NY Times Sunday Magazine was entirely devoted to 
Project 1619, an attempt to root the racism of today in the institution 
of slavery that dates back to 1619, when more than 20 slaves were sold 
to the British colonists in Virginia. This assertion in itself might 
have not touched off the controversy surrounding the project. Instead, 
it was another claim that the American Revolution of 1776 was a 
reactionary rebellion to preserve slavery that probably set the gears in 
motion that led to an open letter from five historians to the NY Times 
that concluded:

	We ask that The Times, according to its own high standards of accuracy 
and truth, issue prominent corrections of all the errors and distortions 
presented in The 1619 Project. We also ask for the removal of these 
mistakes from any materials destined for use in schools, as well as in 
all further publications, including books bearing the name of The New 
York Times. We ask finally that The Times reveal fully the process 
through which the historical materials were and continue to be 
assembled, checked and authenticated.

The letter was written by Sean Wilentz and signed by him and four other 
historians: Victoria Bynum, James M. McPherson, James Oakes, and Gordon 
S. Wood. All are white with an average age of 71.

It is highly likely that the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) that 
publishes the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) helped organize this 
campaign since all of the historians, except Wilentz, have granted 
interviews to it about their objections to Project 1619. It is even more 
likely that SEP member Tom Mackaman led this effort since he as a 
professor at King’s College in Pennsylvania and might have used his 
academic standing to persuade them to take a stand. McPherson probably 
didn’t need much persuasion since his contacts with WSWS go back to 
1999. It is not clear how much contact WSWS had with Sean Wilentz since 
his liberal Democratic Party politics might have made him much less 
amenable to any joint project with a bunch of sectarian lunatics.


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