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Samizdata quote of the day

The 1619 project wasn’t about being right. It wasn’t even about history. It was about pushing an anti-American narrative. It’s best understood as a psywar operation aimed at demoralizing the enemy, in this case the American people.

Glenn Reynolds

One of my favourite places to find SQotDs is in the little summaries of issues that Glenn Reynolds often adds to the links he supplies.

12 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Randy

    And the good professor isn’t wrong. The whole project is nothing but Left wing anti-American propaganda from Pravda on the Hudson.

  • If anything could be most when all is extreme, the most absurd thing of all about the 1619 project is its date. In 1619, Virginia law was English common law and English common law knew nothing of slavery or even serfdom (as Elizabethan judges’ had reminded everyone in a case in the 1570s). The only status assignable to any African sold to a Virginia colonial was that of indentured servant – someone bound to serve for 10 years and then freed, with a grant of land and some tools. The first African child born in British America was a son of two of the 1619 arrivals and was born free.

    Anthony Johnson was just such an African. He is attested in 1621 records and was duly freed after some years. He attained significant wealth as a successful tobacco farmer after completing his term as an indentured servant, and has been referred to as “the black patriarch of the first community of Negro property owners in America”.

    After an initial loss in 1654, Anthony Johnson won on appeal in 1655 a crucial court case. John Casor (black) was returned to his ‘owner’ Anthony Johnson despite all agreeing he had served the whole term of his slavery-become-indenture to Johnson and despite his neighbour and employer Robert Parker (white, and supported by the testimony of another white) defending Casor’s right as a free man to enter a second fixed-term indenture, this time one freely chosen by Casor.

    This was the first instance of a judicial determination in the Thirteen Colonies holding that a person who had committed no crime could be held in servitude for life.

    Some think it ironic that Johnson, not just a freed black man but a leading member of the black community, should play so key a role in establishing that blacks who arrived as slaves did not have to be given the advantages he himself had had. I, by contrast, see it as unsurprising, even probable. The spectacle of an English-origin community gradually reacquiring its acceptance of slavery is a sad one and perhaps just a little surprising. The spectacle of an African-born man behaving in a way utterly normal to the culture of his youth, and in the process doing his bit towards normalising that behaviour in the culture he ended his life in, is not.

    In later crucial cases, blacks AFAIK figure only as subject to legal changes, not also as seeking them. Johnson may have done his bit in 1655, but from 1675 on, a trend of legal rulings showed it was becoming less hard to persuade white Virginia planters that they did not, after all, have to free those who had been sold to them as slaves, give them some farm implements and point them at some uncleared land after getting only a decade of work out of them. By the late 1690s, though blacks could still successfully sue for freedom if masters withheld it past 10 years, the opportunities were narrowing and the attitudes trending towards the ‘black code’ of 1705 that spelled it out: blacks without written indentures did not have to be freed.

  • Sigivald

    I do wish Reynolds would leave PJM, though.

    He was better on his own as a blogger, and definitely without their commentariat.

  • AKM

    Sigivald, he said that he was getting tired of blogging so it was either this or lose instapundit entirely.

  • Gene

    IIRC, Reynolds also has an ownership stake in PJ Media as well.

  • bobby

    The 1619 project wasn’t about being right.”

    It dismays me that people speak about this in the past tense. This was all a tightly designed project, with the Times building not just a job of reportage, but a new structure for elementary and secondary education teaching materials.

    Both jobs were completed. There are many schools across the US now using the teaching guides put out as a result of 1619.

  • Paul Marks

    The New York Times does indeed have a terrible record – like the Manchester Guardian it actively covered up the murder of millions of people in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, it supported the order to Chang to call off the Manchurian Offensive in 1946 which was the last real chance to defeat Mao (the largest scale mass murderer in human history) and it pretended that the Castro brothers were not Marxists in the 1950s (they were Marxists – the idea they just “gravitated” to Marxism after they came to power is a LIE).

    As for what actually happened in Jamestown (founded in 1607 – NOT 1619) in 1619 (it was not part of the United States at that time – as the United States did not exist till 1776) – two black indentured servants (a man and a woman) arrived. There was no mass procession in chains as with the demented British television programme “Jamestown” and there were actually more Polish (or “West Prussian” – the sources are disputed) indentured servants in Jamestown in 1619 than there were black ones. The infamous Virginia Slave Code (which I AGREE was an outrage) was not passed till, I believe, 1705 – again this was long before the creation of the United States in 1776.

    There were indeed slaves before 1705 (indeed all over the world with a few exceptions – such as the Kingdom of France where slavery had been declared unlawful by King Louis X in the Middle Ages) – slavery was rare in Europe, for example there were very few slaves in the British Isles where there was a complex history of legal judgements, going back centuries, AGAINST slavery in specific cases. The famous Mansfield judgement of the 1770s only being exceptional in that it was generalised, not “you, Mr Y, can not hold Mr X as a slave”, but rather “no one can hold anyone as a slave” – the Common Law judges of England had a problem going beyond individual, specific, cases so it took the Scot Mansfield to couch a judgement in general terms. But in the Islamic World slavery was endemic – which the New York Times seems to be rather quiet about.

    The first work written against slavery in the Colonies was “Selling Of Joseph” by Judge Sewall (yes the “Salem Witch Trials” man – he bitterly regretted his actions by 1700, but if YOU gentle reason has listened to the expert opinion of the time you might well have acted as he did – remember that most people in the 17th century believed that witchcraft was as real as poison or bullets).

    2020 is the 400th anniversary of the foundation of what is now Plymouth Massachusetts – the Pilgrim Fathers.

    Yes they had many faults (for example the anti slavery Roger Williams founded Rhode Island because he found the Bay Colony leaders to be religiously intolerant – Mr Williams was passionately religious, but he regarded religious TOLERATION as a central principle), but they did hold that what was morally RIGHT should be the guide to policy – not “interests” as in Virginia. A later “Founding Father” John Adams (2nd President of the United States) did not have to “free his slaves” because he NEVER OWNED ANY – men such as John Adams did not wait for the law to tell them what was morally right, they acted on it. Not out of fear of Earthly punishment – but because they wished to stand justified before God.

    Certainly John Adams was sometimes a difficult man to know – short tempered and judgemental (although only with the strong – if you were in trouble or desperate there was no better man to know than John Adams, even if you had been a sworn enemy of his), but then Louis X back in the Middle Ages (the man who ended slavery in France – and broke the back of serfdom) was also known as “Louis the Quarrelsome” due to his observed habit of getting into loud arguments with various people.

  • CaptDMO

    “The 1619 project wasn’t about being right.”
    I think it fair to add…The 1619 project wasn’t about being right….from it’s conception.
    NYT has lost it’s “of record” status quite some time ago, has lost a astonishing amount of “demographic”
    to that new fangled internet and “smart” phones.
    Throwing wooden shoes into the modern machinery?
    Controversy sells, and “get ’em when they’re young”. Captured (mandatory) audience.
    Well known “sales” strategy. Like Cola, or “fast” food, or Communism, or deviant sexual grooming.

    I wonder how the traditionally superior private (K)El-Hi schools are responding to NYT’s “The 1619 project” ?

  • Paul Marks

    To bobby and others.

    Yes the schools and universities are dominated by the left – and they were so dominated long before the NYT’s “1619 Project”.

    And this includes many private schools – the expensive ones that boast of getting students into “good universities”.

    The utter HATRED (and hatred is not too strong a word) that the left establishment elite have for the United States and the American people is savage – it is pitiless. The establishment elite (the “Progressive” Collectivist left) massively exaggerate anything bad about American history and culture – and they hide (or sneer at) anything good.

    This is, alas, normal in the Western world now – it is the “treason of the intellectuals”, the very people who should be the guardians of our culture and traditions of liberty, are the people working to destroy these things.

    And it is not just the education system and the government bureaucracy – the management of most large Corporations (private business enterprises) are now dominated by people with, frankly, Marxist “exploitation” and “oppression” assumptions.

  • It dismays me that people speak about this in the past tense. (bobby, March 10, 2020 at 8:57 pm)

    Not me (not in Niall Kilmartin, March 10, 2020 at 3:37 pm). If we want to be able to speak of it in the past tense, we need to act against the corruption of teaching.

    In the UK, we’ve had our election and for five years can (in no small part) only hope (volubly) that Boris et al will act against the Education Department – a place that Cummings and colleagues do know something about. Is there any reason for not shutting down that department in toto, entrusting to the Treasury the task of issuing tax waivers and credit payments (i.e. ‘vouchers’) to all Brits with children who today are eligible for state education, and having a Treasury-recruited small team monitor financial corruption – which could include testing what proportion of a school’s children get the jokes in ‘1066 and all that’ and/or etc.?

    My answer is that there is no insuperable reason AFAICS, and non-trivial political gain for Boris et al. – but whether anything approaching it will happen is quite another question.

    In the US, the education department swamp seems very far from drained. I appreciate that its wholesale abolition or radical downsizing is doubtless formally a much harder matter than here, and Trump (via Betsy deVos) only even nominally rules the federal part, which is not all of it.

  • Paul Marks

    Niall – your first comment was excellent, I missed it when I first read the post. Yes – there was no legal provision for slavery in Jamestown in 1619, so the whole “project” of the sick Marxists of the New York Times collapses. As for their claim that 1776 (their real target) was about “protecting slavery” or general “economic social class interests” it is a LIE.

    There is no good sugar coating things – they are not making a innocent mistake, they know that the Founding Fathers were NOT motivated by the desire to protect slavery from the British, or by “class interests” – they, the Marxists of the modern establishment elite, are LYING.

    As for Britain – alas Niall (and others) you should take note of what happened to me.

    It is not the case that the Conservative Party H.Q. in London will lead some sort of campaign against the Frankfurt School Marxists who dominate the education system – on the contrary, the people in the H.Q. (and the Civil Service – the establishment elite generally) SHARE those Frankfurt School (“Diversity Agenda”) assumptions.

    “But that is impossible Paul – they can not possibly share those assumptions”.

    I swear on the souls of my dead mother and father that it is true – at least they-themselves claim it is true (I can not see into their minds – I can not know what the “Central Office” types are actually thinking, I can judge only by their statements).

    I do NOT know what Boris Johnson personally believes, but I have been made aware (horribly aware) of what the party H.Q. types in London believe – or say they believe.

    The education system has already done its evil work – even the central administrative structure of the political party that is supposed to be fighting against the Marxist “diversity agenda” (and so on) is compromised by it. Such “charges” as “Islamophobia” are just as much the stock-in-trade of “Central Office” as they are the Labour Party – the treatment of Mr Trevor Phillips is mirrored by the treatment of myself and others. Such people as Prime Minister Gladstone (a Classical Liberal) or Prime Minister Winston Churchill would be driven from public life now – indeed they would be lucky to escape prison (and the “Central Office” types would applaud).

    There is a terrible irony here – millions of people vote Conservative, and thousands of people work (unpaid) to elect Conservatives to office – I did myself for some 40 years.

    Yet “Central Office” regards the beliefs of the vast majority of Conservative voters and Conservative Party members as criminal (or something close to criminal) – the “Central Office” types certainly do not share our beliefs, on the contrary they hate and despise the beliefs of ordinary Conservatives. They do not need to meet with us or even telephone us in order to PUNISH us – we are bad people (“reactionaries”) they do not need to actually see us or speak with us to know that.

    Now did the “Central Office” types just wake up one morning hating Conservative voters and ordinary Conservative Party members? Of course NOT – they were “educated” into these attitudes.

  • Snorri Godhi

    As Paul Marks remarked above, the New York Times is, as an institution, an accessory after the fact in the Holodomor, and probably many if not all subsequent communist mass murders. But i did not know that the Guardian was also an accessory after the fact.

    I would like to ask Niall and Paul, or in fact anybody who knows, whether slavery in the British West Indies was also preceded by indenture, and if so what caused the change.