Ignorance is strength in Trump's Orwellian rewrite of history.
Trump announced Thursday he would sign an executive order forming a commission to promote "patriotic education" and create a "pro-American" curriculum — an ostensibly revisionist history that doesn't acknowledge systemic racism.
It's the latest in a long line of White House efforts to combat anti-racism.
Trump's "1776 Commission" seems to be a direct response to the New York Times's Pulitzer-winning "1619 Project," an initiative outlining an alternate American history perspective beginning in 1619 when the first slave was brought to the colonies.
In his remarks Thursday, Trump claimed, "Critical race theory, the 1619 Project, and the crusade against American history is toxic propaganda, ideological poison that, if not removed, will dissolve the civic bonds that bind us together. It will destroy our country."
At the same time, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is praising an alternative curriculum to the 1619 project called "1776 Unites," an effort by conservative leaders and right-wing think tank the American Enterprise Institute to combat the 1619 Project. Although the curriculum was launched on the eve of Trump's remarks, the White House did not immediately respond for comment on whether Trump has this curriculum specifically in mind.
"1619 claims that America was founded as a slaveocracy, not a democracy," AEI Resident Fellow Ian Rowe, one of the curriculum's chief proponents alongside conservative activist Robert Woodson Sr., told the Western Journal. "It also claims America's founding ideals were false when they were written. We reject those ideas."
Rowe has said the curriculum's focus is telling the stories of African Americans who "did not view themselves as victims" and who "(embraced) the principles of education, family, free enterprise, faith, hard work and personal responsibility."
Such a depiction plays right into centuries-old racist stereotypes lifting up the "model minority" — those who meekly comply with white expectations and work toward economic advancement within an oppressive system.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said the curriculum "sounds like a wonderful idea."
The most recent developments follow closely on the heels of Trump's open disdain for the 1619 Project.
In a Sept. 6 tweet, Trump threatened to withhold funding from California public schools following reports that some were teaching lesson plans based on the 1619 Project.
Pulling funding from schools is a baseless threat, National Education Policy Center William Mathis told USA Today in July. "It's a constitutional issue," he said. "The purse is controlled by Congress."
Earlier this month, Trump also sent a memo to federal agencies banning workplace anti-racism training.
Calling such programs "divisive, un-American propaganda training sessions," Trump called for an end to any program discussing "white privilege" or "critical race theory."
Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought tweeted about the decision, saying, "The days of taxpayer funded indoctrination trainings that sow division and racism are over."
On Sept. 5, Trump called anti-racism training a "sickness that cannot be allowed to continued," instructing followers to "report any sightings" so his administration can "extinguish" them.
In a slew of racist dog whistles over the past several months, Trump has called Black Lives Matter protesters "disgraceful" and "thugs" and belittled efforts of the movement as "a symbol of hate." In May, Trump threatened to unleash the National Guard on Minneapolis and start "shooting" protesters, earning a Twitter cautionary notice for violating rules about glorifying violence.
In August, Trump denounced the NBA as a "political organization" for supporting Black Lives Matter.
Trump and his allies have long rejected efforts to call out and confront racism. In 2017, Trump instructed Vice President Mike Pence to stage a walkout of an NFL game when protesters took a knee to protest systemic police brutality and racism.
Back in 2015, when a protester was savagely beaten for interrupting a Trump rally in Birmingham, Alabama with shouts of "Black lives matter!", Trump commented on Fox News that "maybe" that protester "should have been roughed up" for being a "trouble-maker."
Trump's opposition to anti-racism was clear long before he was tapped as the GOP nominee. Asked in a 2015 Time magazine interview if he would have supported Japanese American internment during World War II, his response was telling.
"I would have had to be there at the time to tell you, to give you a proper answer," he said.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.