Some of the less erudite members of the conservative intelligentsia spent last week complaining about the NYT’s 1619 Project, a series of articles that, as uneven as they are, present the founding as a conscious erasure of black Americans despite the presence of slavery and the Constitution’s three-fifths clause. I addressed their complaints and my own reading of nineteenth century history.
Jamelle Bouie, one of the contributors and the columnist who compensates for the employment of Bret Stephens, offers an addendum:
History is not the uncovering of absolute truths. It is a dialogue between the present and the past, between communities of scholars and thinkers working to understand the record of what came before — it is always a process of change and revision and critique. Conservatives have every right to criticize The 1619 Project. But if they’re going to call it “lies” and “garbage history” — if they’re going accuse it of propaganda and partisanship — then they should ask themselves a question: Are they looking for better scholarship or are they making a demand for orthodoxy?
This is not a rhetorical question, nor is he ambiguous about the correct answer.