A group of scholars is urging the Pulitzer Board to revoke author Nikole Hannah-Jones’ Pulitzer Prize for her essay in The New York Times’ 1619 project. In the piece, Hannah-Jones made the claim that the preservation of slavery was one of the prime reasons why the Revolutionary War was fought.
In a written statement, 21 professors, academics, and historians laid out their reasons for demanding that Hannah-Jones’ award be revoked. “We call on the Pulitzer Prize Board to rescind the 2020 Prize for Commentary awarded to Nikole Hannah-Jones for her lead essay in ‘The 1619 Project,’” the statement begins. “That essay was entitled, ‘Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written.’ But it turns out the article itself was false when written, making a large claim that protecting the institution of slavery was a primary motive for the American Revolution, a claim for which there is simply no evidence.”
Hannah-Jones, who writes for The New York Times Magazine, won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Commentary for the essay. Historian Leslie M. Harris stated that she fact-checked the claims made in the piece, but the Times “ignored” her arguments.
In the letter, the scholars asserted that the essay was a “surreptitious efforts by The New York Times to alter the record of what it had published in the original magazine.” They wrote, “These were not changes to Hannah-Jones’s essay itself, but to the crucially important introductory materials whose claims—for example, the ‘reframing’ of American history with the year 1619 as the nation’s ‘true founding’—form the underlying rationale of the entire Project.”
The statement continues:
“The duplicity of attempting to alter the historical record in a manner intended to deceive the public is as serious an infraction against professional ethics as a journalist can commit. A ‘sweeping, deeply reported and personal essay,’ as the Pulitzer Prize Board called it, does not have the license to sweep its own errors into obscurity or the remit to publish ‘deeply reported’ falsehoods.”
In the statement, the scholars concluded that, “Given the glaring historical fallacy at the heart of its account, and the subsequent breaches of core journalistic ethics by both Hannah-Jones and the Times,” the essay “does not deserve the honor conferred upon it.”
In September, President Donald Trump declared that he would pull federal funding from schools that teach the 1619 Project.
The fact that America was not living up to the values upon which it was founded after the Revolutionary War is not a new concept. A nation that purports to promote freedom while simultaneously allowing an institution like slavery to exist is clearly falling short of its stated goal. This contradiction was not lost on many of the founding fathers and the issue was debated vigorously. The notion that America would not begin living up to its values until nearly 100 years after its founding is a historical travesty that nearly everyone has acknowledged.
However, the idea that we should view the advent of slavery on the continent as the true founding of the United States is absurd. As the scholars pointed out, there simply is no credible evidence that the revolutionaries waged war against Great Britain because they wished to preserve chattel slavery. To put it simply, the fact that the “peculiar institution” was ever allowed to exist in the first place is evil enough without having to use deception to make America’s misdeeds seem even worse.
But progressives who repeat the lies in the 1619 Project are not concerned with the truth. Indeed, their objective is to paint America in as unflattering a way as possible because their mission is to remake the country in their utopian image. If the Marxist crowd wishes to persuade Americans to fundamentally transform America, it has to portray the nation’s founding as an exercise in evil.
Rewriting the details of a war that was clearly fought for freedom from tyranny is essential to the Marxist movement, as is the demonization of those who founded the nation. It is for this reason why so many on the far left have graduated from advocating for the removal of Confederate statues to erasing images of the men who were instrumental in the creation of the United States. Unfortunately, as long as the far left retain control of our learning institutions and journalistic outlets, it will be quite a challenge to prevent them from infusing these lies into American society.
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