Factional warfare erupts in New York Times over the 1619 Project

The immediate trigger for Sulzberger’s memorandum was a Friday column written by Times opinion writer Bret Stephens, “The 1619 Chronicles.” Stephens is one of the Times’ leading columnists. An anti-Trump conservative, he pointed to the absurdity of many of the Project’s historical claims as well as its disregard for basic journalistic principles. Stephens concluded that the 1619 Project was “a thesis in search of evidence.”

Stephens quoted at length from historian James McPherson’s interview with the World Socialist Web Site, to which he provided a link. In early September 2019, the WSWS produced the first major exposure of the racialist falsifications of the 1619 Project, a few weeks after its rollout amidst an unprecedented media blitz. The WSWS followed this with interviews with scholars who dismantled the 1619 Project’s major claims—McPherson, Victoria Bynum, James Oakes, Gordon Wood, Dolores Janiewski, Adolph Reed, Jr., Richard Carwardine, and Clayborne Carson.

The Stephens column brought into the open the bitter conflict raging at the Times over its creation and promotion of the 1619 Project.

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The New York Times Guild Once Again Demands Censorship Of Colleagues

THE NEW YORK TIMES GUILD, the union of employees of the Paper of Record, tweeted a condemnation on Sunday of one of their own colleagues, op-ed columnist Bret Stephens. Their denunciation was marred by humiliating typos and even more so by creepy and authoritarian censorship demands and petulant appeals to management for enforcement of company “rules” against other journalists. To say that this is bizarre behavior from a union of journalists, of all people, is to woefully understate the case.

What angered the union today was an op-ed by Stephens on Friday which voiced numerous criticisms of the Pulitzer-Prize-winning “1619 Project,” published last year by the New York Times Magazine and spearheaded by reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones. One of the Project’s principal arguments was expressed by a now-silently-deleted sentence that introduced it: “that the country’s true birth date” is not 1776, as has long been widely believed, but rather late 1619, when, the article claims, the first African slaves arrived on U.S. soil.

Despite its Pulitzer, the “1619 Project” has become a hotly contested political and academic controversy, with the Trump administration seeking to block attempts to integrate its assertions into school curriculums, while numerous scholars of history accuse it of radically distorting historical fact, with some, such as Brown University’s Glenn Loury, calling on the Pulitzer Board to revoke its award. Scholars have also vocally criticized the Times for stealth edits of the article’s key claims long after publication, without even noting to readers that it made these substantive changes let alone explaining why it made them.

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The New York Times and Nikole Hannah-Jones abandon key claims of the 1619 Project

The New York Times, without announcement or explanation, has abandoned the central claim of the 1619 Project: that 1619, the year the first slaves were brought to Colonial Virginia—and not 1776—was the “true founding” of the United States.

The initial introduction to the Project, when it was rolled out in August 2019, stated that

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.

The revised text now reads:

The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.

A similar change was made from the print version of the 1619 Project, which has been sent out to millions of school children in all 50 states. The original version read:

In August of 1619, a ship appeared on this horizon, near Point Comfort, a coastal port in the British colony of Virginia. It carried more than 20 enslaved Africans, who were sold to the colonists. America was not yet America, but this was the moment it began. No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the 250 years of slavery that followed.

The website version has deleted the key claim. It now reads:

In August of 1619, a ship appeared on this horizon, near Point Comfort, a coastal port in the English colony of Virginia. It carried more than 20 enslaved Africans, who were sold to the colonists. No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the years of slavery that followed.

It is not entirely clear when the Times deleted its “true founding” claim, but an examination of old cached versions of the 1619 Project text indicates that it probably took place on December 18, 2019.

These deletions are not mere wording changes. The “true founding” claim was the core element of the Project’s assertion that all of American history is rooted in and defined by white racial hatred of blacks. According to this narrative, trumpeted by Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones, the American Revolution was a preemptive racial counterrevolution waged by white people in North America to defend slavery against British plans to abolish it. The fact that there is no historical evidence to support this claim did not deter the Times and Hannah-Jones from declaring that the historical identification of 1776 with the creation of a new nation is a myth, as is the claim that the Civil War was a progressive struggle aimed at the destruction of slavery. According to the New York Times and Hannah-Jones, the fight against slavery and all forms of oppression were struggles that black Americans always waged alone.

The Times’ “disappearing,” with a few secret keystrokes, of its central argument, without any explanation or announcement, is a stunning act of intellectual dishonesty and outright fraud. When it launched the 1619 Project in August 2019, the Times proclaimed that its aim was to radically change what and how students were taught about American history. With the aim of creating a new syllabus based on the 1619 Project, hundreds of thousands of copies of the original version of the narrative, as published in the New York Times Magazine, were printed and distributed to schools, museums and libraries all across the United States. A very large number of schools declared that they would align their curricula in accordance with the narrative supplied by the Times.

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NYT’s Nikole Hannah-Jones Confirms She Called Europeans ‘Barbaric Devils,’ Linked Africa to Aztec Temples

Nikole Hannah-Jones, the New York Times reporter famous for her work on the paper’s “1619 Project,” confirmed Wednesday that she wrote a 1995 letter labeling white people as “bloodsuckers” and “barbaric devils” — with a caveat that she does not “hate them.”

Hannah-Jones admitted that she wrote a letter to the editor in Notre Dame’s student newspaper The Observer while accusing columnist Andrew Sullivan of attempting to “cancel” her by sharing a Federalist article that first unveiled the incendiary writing.

“Andrew Sullivan tried to use a letter to the editor I wrote when I was 19 to get me ‘canceled,’” Hannah-Jones wrote on social media. “He has attacked and trolled every prominent Black writer,” she continued, then shared a screenshot of Sullivan posting the Federalist’s article and linking the views espoused in the letter to the Times’ Pulitzer-winning “1619 Project.”

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