- Jan 2021
Identity politics makes it less likely that racial reconciliation and healing can be attained by pursuing Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream for America and upholding the highest ideals of our Constitution and our Declaration of Independence.
This is obviously in line with the executive order banning anti-racist training.
a system of explicit group privilege that, in the name of “social justice,” demands equal results and explicitly sorts citizens into “protected classes” based on race and other demographic categories.
...privileges "protected classes" (legally, racial minorities, women, religious minorities, etc--a definition that's used to identify harassment and discrimination). The last step is left unsaid, but is clear: the privileging of protected identities victimizes people who are not part of these "protected classes"--that is, White people, and especially White men.
I'm gonna call this the Calhoun move, and it brings us right back around to a White victim complex, the 21st century version of White supremacy.
Those forms of preferential treatment built up in our system over time, first in administrative rulings, then executive orders, later in congressionally passed law, and finally were sanctified by the Supreme Court
And now the move is complete: racist group rights become antiracism, which in turn becomes preferential treatment that...wait for it...
Among the distortions was the abandonment of nondiscrimination and equal opportunity in favor of “group rights” not unlike those advanced by Calhoun and his followers.
Here's the rest of that jaw-dropping rhetorical move from back on page 12 wherein antiracism becomes the same as Calhoun's racism. This may be the most outrageous lie in the document, and that's a hard title to achieve.
ran counter to the lofty ideals of the founders.
This is all predicated on forgetting what MLK was working on when he was assassinated, which was (among other things) anti-poverty and housing initiatives that had him essentially branded a Communist.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Quoting MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech in a document that opposes anti-racist activism is now so cliche it's practically a bingo square.
composed of people from different races, ethnicities, nationalities, and religions
As with the passage on abolitionism, again we have downplaying of Black leadership.
Blacks enjoyed a new equality and freedom
There's so much to do we have to ignore this ridiculous level of exaggeration.
indeed they deny the existence of God.
We're gonna get back to this.
leads down the same dangerous path of allowing the state to seize private property and redistribute wealth as the governing elite see fit.
Please call the Swedes, their property's been stolen!
But Communism’s relentless anti-American, anti-Western, and atheistic propaganda
I mean it really is the 1950s in here. Please let me off this time machine.
radical rejection of human dignity
This is absolutely laughable to anyone who has ever read Marx, because it is more or less the opposite of what Marx actually argued for.
Instead, the goal is for a “class struggle [that] necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat.”
Misrepresentation. Actual quote:
My own contribution was (1) to show that the existence of classes is merely bound up with certain historical phases in the development of production; (2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat; [and] (3) that this dictatorship, itself, constitutes no more than a transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society. (KM)
As is now obvious, the dictatorship of the proletariat is explicitly not the goal (and that's before we get around to explaining what dictatorship of the proletariat actually means).
United States’ mortal and moral battle against the forces of Communism
Does this really never get old? Could they not come up with a better boogeyman than the one they used on Boomers?
What is about to happen here is some Red Scare level shit.
while Fascism died in 1945 with the collapse of the Axis powers
I would (not) like to introduce you to Francisco Franco and Spain until the 1970s.
creating more ships, planes, tanks, and munitions than any other power on earth
Notice how very Trump this phrasing is. It's probably accurate (though look, I got better things to rant about than numbers of boats).
n arsenal of democracy
What the everloving fuck just happened here
(Also that's not exactly how the US got involved in WW2...at all.)
Second or third time we've had extraneous Ronald Reagan
At least I learned an interesting if archaic word today.
Like the Progressives, Mussolini sought to centralize power under the management of so-called experts.
So we are now associating Progressivism (and rhetorically, progressivism) with...Mussolini. This is ridiculous. (Also note that there are or have been many forms of government that were bureaucracy-heavy, and while not always ideal, they were also not always fascist.)
Though ideological cousins
A Google search will disprove this (but consistently, when they say Communism they mean Soviet Communism).
This shadow government never faces elections and today operates largely without checks and balances.
There's a rhetorical refrain in this document of ending subsections with some kind of vaguely described boogeyman that is fodder for conspiracy theories or making people feel under attack. See pages numbered 10 (2x) and 12.
Instead of securing fundamental rights grounded in nature, government—operating under a new theory of the “living” Constitution—should constantly evolve to secure evolving rights.
Again, natural law is a specific, historically rooted branch of philosophy, and so is this. But what's happening here is not a debate between two schools of philosophy, but an argument against certain schools of legal thought. Conservative constitutional legal thought (embodied most famously by Scalia but also by much of the right wing of the current SCOTUS) is originalist. Originalism opposes the idea of "novel rights" and the "living Constitution," and insists on interpreting the Constitution as people theoretically would have done at the time of its writing.
The takeaway here is the foregoing screed on Progressivism and philosophy is actually a warm-up to an subtextual argument about Constitutional interpretation that is the bedrock of how conservatives view the Judicial Branch.
one prominent Progressive historian
This is egregious. Not only are they quoting out of context, they have literally made it impossible to find the context.
Here the writers deploy a specific historical term without defining it, again for the linguistic refrain. Late 18th century Progressivism (capital P) becomes, by repetition, the same as 21st century AOC/Sanders progressivism (little p).
(I'm not going into depth here on the merits of what they're saying about Progressivism because it's not my particular field of knowledge and I'm sure Heather Cox Richardson is going to handle it.)
Yet the damage done by the denial of core American principles and by the attempted substitution of a theory of group rights in their place proved widespread and long-lasting. These, indeed, are the direct ancestors of some of the destructive theories that today divide our people and tear at the fabric of our country.
Keep an eye on this, the beginning of a truly remarkable rhetorical pivot that will equate, somehow, the evils of John C Calhoun and pseudoscientific racism with "identity politics" (or to put it more generally, anti-racism with racism).
This conflict was resolved, but at a cost of more than 600,000 lives.
Like William Goldman excising imaginary chapters on Princess Buttercup's wardrobe*, the Civil War magically vanishes into the wastes of Boring History That Calls Into Question Such Ideas as American Exceptionalism and the Role of States.
- after this, we all need to read The Princess Bride to recover
The first non-White-man person to be mentioned by name in context. We are on page 12.
that first began in the United States
Oh. Hell. No.
Aside from the British example above, the authors seem to have forgotten that "movements to abolish slavery" included movements not run by White abolitionists, such as rebellions by enslaved people. One modest example roughly contemporaneous with the creation of the Bill of Rights: the Haitian Revolution. Or if you're hung up on White people abolitionists, Bartolome de las Casas (late in life). Who the hell even thinks the US invented abolitionism? WTF?
Remember, this is the abolitionist who somehow also owned slaves mentioned way back at the beginning of the document.
The foundation of our Republic planted the seeds of the death of slavery in America.
Probably not. Abolitionism was alive and well in Britain, and in fact, by the time of the Declaration, slavery did not legally exist in England (by the time the war ended, it didn't exist in Scotland either). It persisted longer in British colonies, until 1838. It's not unreasonable to think that enslavers in the American colonies might have seen the writing on the wall and supported the revolution in part because of this.
The founders knew slavery was incompatible with that truth.
as before: crack a book.
at which time Congress immediately outlawed the slave trade
No. Congress outlawed the Transatlantic slave trade at the end of the 20-year period. It didn't actually end the transatlantic trade, and it didn't even attempt to end domestic slave trading.
Many Americans labor under the illusion that slavery was somehow a uniquely American evil.
We're about to have a whole paragraph diminishing American chattel slavery's evils, aren't we.
(Spoiler: yes, we are.)
Thomas Jefferson also held slaves
Let me fix that for you: "Thomas Jefferson owned, bought, sold, and traded human beings, including a woman he kept as a sex slave and his own biracial enslaved children."
I sure hope divine justice doesn't sleep for Jefferson.
The three-fifths compromise was proposed by an antislavery delegate to prevent the South from counting their slaves as whole persons for purposes of increasing their congressional representation.
This page had my jaw on the floor so I can't be sure (sarcasm; I am sure), but this sure does sound like a little logical twist that actually excuses the three-fifths compromise.
This charge is untrue, and has done enormous damage, especially in recent years, with a devastating effect on our civic unity and social fabric
It is in fact true. You cannot talk high ideals about individual liberty and self-determination and also own human beings without being a hypocrite.
hy·poc·ri·sy noun the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform
First mention of slavery.
It may be useful to remember while reading the following how mad Trump is about the 1619 Project, and that the 1776 Commission emerged from that anger.
It is the sacred duty of every generation of American patriots to defend this priceless inheritance
At this point, this document on educational reform is sounding like some of the more bombastic interpretive materials at a 9/11 memorial.
Indeed, great reforms—like abolition, women’s suffrage, anti-Communism, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Pro-Life Movement—have often come forward that improve our dedication
I just gotta bring back our friend
This is just gratuitously ideological.
Challenges to America’s Principles
OK folks, buckle up. Shit is about to get real
An armed people is a people capable of defending their liberty no less than their lives and is the last, desperate check against the worst tyranny
THIS LANGUAGE MADE IT PAST JANUARY 6
A people that cannot publicly express its opinions, exchange ideas, or openly argue about the course of its government is not free.
Note again the actual relevant text: "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press," which means Congress cannot make a law that permits Lieutenant Asshole of the Bumfuck Constabulary to throw your ass in prison because you ran your mouth (exceptions for threats, etc). All it means is you cannot face government persecution for speech, ie you cannot be disappeared like a Chinese dissident. Twitter, being not Congress, can ban you for any reason they like. Welcome to adulthood.
religious institutions would flourish and pursue their divine mission among men
Let us take a moment and correct this buzzword with the actual clauses: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
Notice what is and isn't included here. There is no entitlement to special treatment for religious groups. TAX THE TELEVANGELI--I mean, interesting omission.
Like religious liberty, freedom of speech and of the press is required by the freedom of the human mind.
These are all from the First Amendment, which has two other clauses not mentioned here: "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances". These are telling omissions.
three of these rights
GUESS WHICH ONES
(you don't have to guess, they're the ones unmoderated comment sections and evangelical preachers feed on)
that is, the mere fact that a right is not mentioned in the Bill of Rights is neither proof nor evidence that it does not exist.
More or less my argument against Constitutional Originalism, but hey, conservatism is rarely consistent.
identify their personal interests with the powers and prerogatives of their offices
Y'know, I was going to make a serious comment, but I'll just let Ivanka do it.
tyranny of the majority
Note how the use of this phrase unfolds in the coming pages, particularly when they get around to talking about identity politics.
But the people do not directly exercise their sovereignty, for instance, by voting directly in popular assemblies.
False. In New England states, they actually do. And there's this little thing called the referendum...
(Y'know, it's not like they're wrong about representative institutions. It's that they insist on putting in stupid false shit when they didn't even need to.)
Here it is again!
(Obviously my objection is not to the republic as a form of government. It's to the fact that adoption of this language in schools would transform small-r republicanism into big-R Republicanism. Linguistic propaganda if not defined.)
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Token woman out of context to go with your token Black people out of context.
The peoples of the states admired and cherished their state governments, all of which had adopted republican constitutions before a federal constitution was completed.
Really a vast oversimplification--intriguing from this crowd, whose strategy is usually to argue for the devolution of powers to the states. That view is reflected below, but I would've expected to see more attention to states here.
Can we call this purple prose? Or whining? Or both?
Here is another token image of a Black person out of context. The document still won't mention slavery for another three pages.
For instance, the colonists charge the British king with failing to provide, or even interfering with, representative government
This is not wrong, but I wanted to flag somewhere that Britain actually possessed a representative government (Parliament) at the time. George III did his best to ignore it, but it existed. It just didn't include representation for colonies.
I'm not tagging this "these people are stupid" because that's not the issue; they are attempting to make US representative government look more innovative than it actually was.
The first was the sundering of civil from religious law with the advent and widespread adoption of Christianity.
WHAT THE EVERLOVING FUUUUUCK??
HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA Hang on I gotta roll on the floor for a minute HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
MAY I INTRODUCE TO YOU CHRISTIAN MONASTICISM? THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE? EMPEROR CONSTANTINE? THE POPE? ALL THE POPES? INCLUDING THE TIME THERE WERE TWO POPES?
The sundering of--
Children. Sit down and let the adults do history.
Needless to say:
the Constitution they produced remains the longest continually-operating written constitution in all of human history.
Disingenuous. I don't know if this is technically true, but there sure have been governments and systems of government that lasted much longer.
to write the document which we have today.
Incorrect. They came up with what we have today minus twenty-seven important bits of it that comprise most of what the United States has spent the last 240 or whatever years fighting over. The Bill of Rights--the "but mah freedoms" part of the Constitution--didn't come along for four more years.
The bedrock upon which the American political system is built is the rule of law.
Here's another theme that emerges in the document repeatedly. Watch over the next ten pages or so as it goes from natural rights and law-over-ruler to obedience.
The second momentous change was the emergence of multiple denominations within Christianity that undid Christian unity and in turn greatly undermined political unity.
OK wait. So...civil law was sundered from religious law because of Christianity in the last sentence, but in this sentence, schisms in Christianity (which, remember, had sundered political and religious law) undermined political unity?
(I mean, there were a lot of wars because of the various reformations and counter-reformations, but
- there was no prior Christian unity, as I'm sure the Orthodox would like to remind us, to say nothing of the heretics the Inquisition enjoyed killing all over western Europe
- political unity? Really? Like Europeans weren't over there killing each other even if they were all at least nominally Catholic?
Look, it's like somebody thinks the multi-national, polyglot monastery in The Name of the Rose was representative of pre-Reformation Europe and forgot that The Name of the Rose is a murder mystery.
(They didn't think that. These people wouldn't make it ten pages in anything by Eco. Bear with my nerd analogies.)
Religious differences became sources of political conflict and war.
What you mean, "became"?
by the time of the American founding, political life in the West had undergone two momentous changes
I assume they mean to imply "since Plato" here, but we're really back in the land of undergrad "since the beginning of time" essay introductions.
Also, only two?
(Oh sweet summer child.)
We come now to my favorite part. Get ready.
In a sense, the precepts of the American founders wereknown to prior thinkers, but those thinkers stated them in entirely different terms to fit the different political and intellectual circumstances of their times.
I have not puzzled out why this section does not reference the European Enlightenment--the intellectual milieu through which the founders drove their philosophical and political shopping carts--and instead vaguely references "ancient philosophers", but this is one of many cases of Incorrect By Flagrant Omission in this document.
The world is still—and will always be—divided into nations, not all of which respect the rights of their people, though they should
The principles of the Declaration are universal and eternal.
Do I laugh? Do I cry? Do I set something on fire?
Actually, this is one of the great lies of American patriotism even when it's not being put forward by a wannabe autocrat's educational propaganda council. The principles of the Declaration sound really nice, but they are historically and philosophically situated, highly interpretable, and have never applied to everyone.
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
Essays have been written on how this phrase appears in Locke's (earlier) work with "property" instead of "happiness", and how and why Jefferson changed it. I'm not going to delve too deeply there, but it's worth asking what Jefferson meant by "happiness", and for whom, in a context where only White, landholding men were entitled to full liberty (and voting rights).
The finality of the truth that “all men are created equal” was intended to make impossible any return to formal or legal inequality, whether to older forms such as absolute monarchy and hereditary aristocracy, or to as-yet-unimagined forms we have seen in more recent times.
Spoiler: the Reds are coming!
Also, obviously: ALL PEOPLE HAVE NEVER BEEN TREATED EQUALLY IN THIS COUNTRY, rendering this statement pointless blather from a practical point of view.
this “abstract truth
Laughably out of context - it is not clear what the abstract truth is, because the Declaration isn't quoted, and it's not clear what Lincoln's argument was, and we have no idea where Lincoln said this in the first place.
I can only assume they are referring to "all men are created equal"--in which case the previous paragraph on talent is a total aside.
Superiority of talent—even a superior ability to rule—is not a divine or natural title or warrant to rule.
this is very, very interesting. Obama was known to surround himself with a brain trust, Hilary was and is a policy wonk, and literally the whole point of this document, as will become plainly evident later, is to argue against intellectualism. It is not a stretch to read this as a denunciation of competence as a qualifier for office, and a defense of government by the ignorant.
they are not by nature divided into castes, with natural rulers and ruled.
Notice that they use "caste" here rather than race or gender.
Such a justification could only be found in the precepts of nature—specifically human nature—accessible to the human mind but not subject to the human will.
I am not going to wade into the philosophy of natural law here because I am 1) not a philosopher, and 2) drinking a glass of wine. The founders did go in for this stuff, but it is...highly critique-able.
This is (I think) the first time the document uses "men" in a non-gender-specific way outside the context of a period quote. This pre-1960s default to "men" instead of "people" continues throughout. With "republicanism", this is the second major case of a repeated imprecise, ideologically motivated language refrain.
All actual governments, rather, understand themselves as just and assert a public claim as to why.
Nah fam. All government assert a public claim as to why, but many (oligarchies, dictatorships, totalitarian societies calling themselves communist) have no interest in being just.
My rage reduces me to comments on sloppy usage, such as this pronoun that does not refer to its grammatical antecedent.
Note that Jay lists six factors binding the American people together, of which principle is only one—the most important or decisive one, but still only one, and insufficient by itself. The American founders understood that, for republicanism to function and endure, a republican people must share a large measure of commonality in manners, customs, language, and dedication to the common good.
Let me be very clear: they are arguing that principle is not enough, and that descent, language, religion, customs, etc are necessary. They don't restate descent here, but that is the point of this whole digression on Jay - the significance of Whiteness.
one united people—a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs
JESUS H CHRIST
If you can't see the White (Anglo) nationalism there, I can't help you.
In the next paragraph they're gonna try to qualify it, but you don't quote this shit and then try to make it look pretty if you don't want everyone to believe it. (Jay was a slaveholder and an abolitionist, if you can believe it, at the same time. He was also a supporter of Christian missionaries.)
There was not yet, formally speaking, an American people. There were, instead, living in the thirteen British colonies in North America some two-and-a-half million subjects of a distant king. Those subjects became a people by declaring themselves such and then by winning the independence they had asserted as their right.
- There were many American peoples. None of them were White.
- "those subjects became a people by declaring themselves such and then by winning the independence they had asserted as their right" - OK no. Quite a lot of people did not have the autonomy to "declare themselves" part of a people, and indeed were not recognized as such. There were also loyalists. And this idea of "a people" is...really complicated.
- While it's true that the first citizens of the United States were former British subjects, it is worth noting that a lot of other people lived in the current United States at the time who were tribal citizens, French colonists, Spanish colonists, and enslaved people who weren't considered citizens of anywhere.
Other nationsmay have birthdays
Oh look, they were shitting me.
First, it has a definite birthday: July 4th, 1776.
ARE YOU SHITTING ME.
I cannot read this without hearing an undergrad being a paper "Since the beginning of time..."
Here beginneth a vast number of references to small-r republicanism, which is never defined. This is a case of language mattering. The US has a republican form of government, of course, but repetition of language can be, and in this case, is, an ideological refrain. "republican" is one of two notable cases here.
its people have shared a history of common struggle and achievement, from carving communities out of a vast, untamed wilderness, to winning independence and forming a new government, through wars, industrialization
We gotta do this clause by clause:
- "its people have shared a history of common struggle and achievement" - no. Aside from the long history of dispute about who born in the United States really "counts" as an "American", there has never been a common struggle.
- "carving communities out of a vast, untamed wilderness" - no. As of this writing I have finished reading the first half of the document and there has, as yet, been no mention of Indigenous peoples. (Also, see the vast literature on the relationship between expansionism, the "frontier", and American exceptionalism.)
- "winning independence and forming a new government" - dramatic oversimplification. Interesting fact about this document: in contains almost no references to state government.
- "wars, industrialization, waves of immigration, technological progress, and political change" - not highlighting this because it's wrong, but because it implies a strictly linear progress of history that is typical of American exceptionalism and intellectual arguments for racism, colonialism, etc.
All in all, what Luke said.
The President’s Advisory 1776 Commission presents this first report with the intention of cultivating a better education among Americans in the principles and history of our nation and in the hope that a rediscovery of those principles and the forms of constitutional government will lead to a more perfect Union.
This is an unapologetic statement of purpose: to change public education to a patriotic/nationalistic discourse that will lead to a specific vision of the "more perfect Union"
Martin Luther King Jr.
Psst it is going to be eight more pages before this document mentions racism.
“a standard maxim for free society,”
One of many places in which I call foul on the lack of citation. CONTEXT MATTERS
nation before America ever dared state those truths as the formal basis for its politics
Technically true, but worth acknowledging that there were others working on it at about the same time. This was an enlightenment idea, not an American idea.
therefore our history is far more one of self-sacrifice, courage, and nobility.
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA crack a book, y'all.
We are not going to do an accounting here of whether "America" (hi, America is two continents, we're talking about the US) has on balance done more good than harm. That is disingenuous. The fact is that the United States has done great harm that is not erased by its good, and it is more urgent to deal with the harm than to pat ourselves on the back about the good.
they show how the American people have ever pursued freedom and justice,
"Saruman the White has ever been our friend and ally" -Grima Wormtongue
Also, this is the first of many misrepresentations that earn the following comment, which I would like as a rubber stamp because I'm gonna need it:
The facts of our founding are not partisan.
Historiography tells us that history as told is always partisan. Facts are inevitably incomplete. This here is the lie that the entire rest of this pack of lies sits on: that there is one American history that is actually accurate.
“city on a hill”
This line, associated with Reagan, is from a sermon by John Winthrop, a Puritan immigrant who was primarily interested in establishing a theocracy. It is emblematic of the idea of "American Exceptionalism", which you are about to be beat over the head with. See further https://www.neh.gov/article/how-america-became-city-upon-hill#:~:text=That%201630%20sermon%20by%20John,center%20of%20his%20political%20career.
I'll be flagging certain repeated phrases or language choices that are misleading or biased.
Americans will never falter in defending the fundamental truths of human liberty proclaimed on July 4, 1776.
Oh god here we go.
- shared identity
- these people are plain stupid
- White nationalism
- American exceptionalism
- the problem of the king
- Constitutional interpretation
- White people history
- rule of law
- communist boogeyman
- racist bullshit
- willful misunderstandings