By Audrey Sightler
We currently do not have to travel far into the past to see the disregard for history; it is presently at our back door. So, what does the term history mean? In accordance with the Oxford English Dictionary, the term history has evolved from an ancient Greek verb which means "to know." The Greek word historia initially meant inquiry, the act of seeking knowledge, as well as the knowledge that results from the inquiry. When it comes to seeking knowledge, Noah Webster, the Father of American Scholarship and Education, was forward on the matter, stating, “It is an object of vast magnitude that systems of education should be adopted and pursued which may not only diffuse a knowledge of the sciences but may implant in the minds of the American youth the principles of virtue and of liberty and inspire them with just liberal ideas of government and with an inviolable attachment to their own country.”
Earlier this year, the Department of Education released the latest student test scores on eighth-graders' comprehension of U.S. history and government. There had been virtually no change in student scores in civics, with a meager 24% of eighth-graders testing "proficient" in that field. Meanwhile, proficiency in U.S. history fell by more than 15% from the last testing in 2014 to an embarrassing 15% total. This decrease occurred in almost every category of students tested. And once more, Noah Webster, On the Education of Youth in America, 1788, said it best, "Every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice. As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country."
The lack of knowledge of our founding, on our government, on our economy has opened the door to socialistic thought and aspirations of implementing it into economic policies and education. Moreover, it is also the lack of knowledge of the outcomes of socialism not being adequately taught in the education system. According to a 2019 Gallup poll, 51% of U.S. adults say socialism would be a bad thing for our country, 43% believe it would be a good thing.
The current attack on historical figures, even more so on the Founding Fathers, is based on the utopian assumption that man can achieve moral perfectionism. This eliminates anyone who falls short of this assumption and challenges the Judeo-Christian principles that America was founded on, in which moral perfection is unattainable. We are all in agreement that the Founders had imperfections. Still, the theory that America is based on inherent evil promotes socialist thought to replace our Constitution and our government. This criticism for our country's founding is being implemented into our education system under the name "The 1619 Project" through a collection of fallacious essays, poems, and short fiction to completely rewrite our history. Even though The 1619 Project has been debunked by some of the greatest historians of our time, it is still making its way into classrooms. If the project editor, Nikole Hannah-Jones, has her way, it will be implemented into the entire history curriculum across America.
The 1619 Project puts slavery at the center of America's story, in which America's capitalist economic system and our government institutions are inherently racist. It also paints the Founders as fundamentally racist. However, in every letter, legislation, essay, and so on, that the Founders spoke on the subject of slavery, denounced it as an institution and spoke of their hopes of it being abolished in the future. Not once does The 1619 Project bring the Founder’s own words on the topic of slavery to be an example to their claims because it would obviously contradict them. In 2019, the author, Hannah-Jones, stated to Vox founder Ezra Klein that "If you want to see the most equal, multiracial, it's not a democracy, but the most equal multiracial country in our hemisphere, it would be Cuba…Cuba has the least inequality between black and white people of any place in the hemisphere." She is right in the sense that everyone is equally malnourished and impoverished under Cuba's socialist government.
She also admitted the identity of the 1619 Project by also emphasizing, "In places that are biracial countries, Cuba actually has the least inequality, and that's largely due to socialism."
Her claims that our capitalist system is inherently racist is a misleading allegation in the sense that slavery existed throughout the world before Adam Smith ever developed the capitalist economic system. The term "slave" itself originates in the word Slav. Hence, the Slavic people were taken as slaves by the Muslims of Spain during the 9th century. Socialism is another form of slavery, in which it forces citizens to work for others without compensation and seizes private property, in which there is no individual freedom for anyone, no matter your race, sex, or religion.
Hannah-Jones' allegation about Cuba being a haven for racial peace and equality is also incorrect. According to the Latin American Studies, as well as the U.S. State Department, in 2009, 70% of Cuban blacks were projected to be unemployed; this has led to an increase in the "black market" and other criminal activities, which results in a prison population of 85% black people. Also, 58% of Cuban whites stated that Cuban blacks were less intelligent than whites according to a 2005 survey. Cuba doesn't sound like a haven for racial prosperity, does it?
The 1619 Project is just another reversal of past tactics to justify socialism and annihilate history. In truth, history is socialism's greatest enemy, it does not lie, but it does tell a story. Socialism has never had a happy fairytale ending. History is not perfect: it isn't always equal, it isn't always just, it isn't always morally right, but it also tells stories of heroes who prevailed during times of injustice and war. It gives hope that we too can prevail as others have before us. In reality, the Founders knew that they were not perfect men. Still, they were determined to give us a Union of freedom. These words by James Madison in Federalist No. 51 exemplify this, "It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices [checks and balances] should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed, and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions."
Audrey Sightler is a Louisiana native, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in International Business Administration, as well as a History Minor with Liberty University. She is an active member of the International Churchill Society and the Royal Economic Society. Moreover, Audrey has achieved multiple certifications in International Business with the University of London. Audrey is a fourth-generation American descendant of an Ellis Island immigrant; her forefathers also worked alongside the Founding Fathers to establish our freedoms during America's founding.