The 1619 Chronicles Brett Stephens NYTimes, Oct. 9, 2020
If there’s one-word admirers and critics alike can agree on when it comes to The New York Times’s award-winning 1619 Project, it’s ambition. Ambition to reframe America’s conversation about race. Ambition to reframe our understanding of history. Ambition to move from news pages to classrooms. Ambition to move from scholarly debate to national consciousness.
In some ways, this ambition succeeded. The 1619 Project introduced a date, previously obscure to most Americans, that ought always to have been thought of as seminal — and probably now will. It offered fresh reminders of the extent to which Black freedom was a victory gained by courageous Black Americans, and not just a gift obtained from benevolent whites.
It showed, in a stunning photo essay, the places where human beings were once bought and sold as slaves — neglected scenes of American infamy. It illuminated the extent to which so much of what makes America great, including some of our uniquely American understandings of liberty and equality, is unthinkable without the struggle of Black Americans, as well as the extent to which so much of what continues to bedevil us is the result of centuries of racism.
And, in a point missed by many of the 1619 Project’s critics, it does not reject American values. As Nikole Hannah-Jones, its creator and leading voice, concluded in her essay for the project, “I wish, now, that I could go back to the younger me and tell her that her people’s ancestry started here, on these lands, and to boldly, proudly, draw the stars and those stripes of the American flag.” It’s an unabashedly patriotic thought.
But ambition can be double-edged. Journalists are, most often, in the business of writing the first rough draft of history, not trying to have the last word on it. We are best when we try to tell truths with a lowercase t, following evidence in directions unseen, not the capital-T truth of a pre-established narrative in which inconvenient facts get discarded. And we’re supposed to report and comment on the political and cultural issues of the day, not become the issue itself.
As fresh concerns make clear, on these points — and for all of its virtues, buzz, spinoffs and a Pulitzer Prize — the 1619 Project has failed.
*** Those concerns came to light last month when a longstanding critic of the project, Phillip W. Magness, noted in the online magazine Quillette that references to 1619 as the country’s “true founding” or “moment [America] began” had disappeared from the digital display copy without explanation.
These were not minor points. The deleted assertions went to the core of the project’s most controversial goal, “to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year.” … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.] ______________________________________________________
Down the 1619 Project’s Memory Hole Phillip W. Magness Quillette, Sept. 19, 2020
The history of the American Revolution isn’t the only thing the New York Timesis revising through its 1619 Project. The “paper of record” has also taken to quietly altering the published text of the project itself after one of its claims came under intense criticism.
When the 1619 Project went to print in August 2019 as a special edition of the New York Times Magazine, the newspaper put up an interactive version on its website. The original opening text stated:
The 1619 project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative. [emphasis added]
The passage, and in particular its description of the year 1619 as “our true founding,” quickly became a flashpoint for controversy around the project. Critics on both the Left and Right took issue with the paper’s declared intention of displacing 1776 with the alternative date—a point that was also emphasized in the magazine feature’s graphics, showing the date of American independence crossed out and replaced by the date of the first slave ship’s arrival in Jamestown, Virginia.
For several months after the 1619 Project first launched, its creator and organizer Nikole Hannah-Jones doubled down on the claim. “I argue that 1619 is our true founding,” she tweeted the week after the project launched. “Also, look at the banner pic in my profile”—a reference to the graphic of the date 1776 crossed out with a line. It’s a claim she repeated many times over. But something changed as the historical controversies around the 1619 Project intensified in late 2019 and early 2020.
A group of five distinguished historians took issue with Hannah-Jones’s lead essay, focusing on its historically unsupported claim that protecting slavery was a primary motive of the American revolutionaries when they broke away from Britain in 1776. Other details of the project soon came under scrutiny, revealing both errors of fact and dubious interpretations of evidence in other essays, such as Matthew Desmond’s 1619 Project piece attempting to connect American capitalism with slavery. Finally back in March, a historian who the Times recruited to fact-check Hannah-Jones’s essay revealed that she had warned the paper against publishing its claims about the motives of the American Revolution on account of their weak evidence. The 1619 Project’s editors ignored the advice. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.] ______________________________________________________
Peter Beinart’s Grotesque Utopia (Part One) Shany Mor Algemeiner, Oct. 13, 2020
In the years I spent as a grad student first in New York and later in England, I was often buttonholed by opinionated young Jews who wanted to give me an earful of “criticism of Israel.” Some of it was ignorant blather, some of it was quite serious. Some of it I disagreed with politely (whenever that was possible) and some of it I agreed with, even wholeheartedly, as my own views evolved. I heard it all, and I’d like to believe (though I’m no doubt being very generous with myself), that I was able to listen and engage with most of it, but I did notice after a few such encounters that there was one claim which led me, entirely by reflex and not by will, to shut down. Maybe it says more about my own weaknesses, I don’t know. But conspiracy-mongering didn’t make me stop listening, nor did Holocaust inversion or comparisons with apartheid. Such nonsense was upsetting, to be sure, and it did occasionally result in a raised voice or a bruised friendship, but it never caused me to just stop listening.
What would cause me to stop listening was the word “brave.” Anyone, and especially any young American or British Jew at a fancy university, who saw himself (and even though ignorant anti-Israel obsessiveness was distributed across genders, the “bravery” complex was almost always a symptom of male carriers) as brave for daring to criticize Israel was just not capable of thoughtful discussion. The claim of bravery, the self-image of a dissident voice speaking out against rigorously enforced dogma, was so patently ridiculous that it was impossible to take seriously anything that a person so afflicted might have to say about a topic that I knew well.
And so it was that I encountered Peter Beinart’s recent fatwa on the Jewish state from Twitter posts hailing him as brave. Pro-democracy writers in Hong Kong, to say nothing of mainland China, merit the description “brave.” So too do LGBT activists in Egypt or Iran. To call a comfortable Upper West Side American Jew “brave” for writing something against Israel says very little about bravery and very little about Israel, but it says a great deal about what the person making the compliment thinks about Jewish power in American public life.
This was the barely repressed subtext of the two big New York Review of Books essays with which Beinart reinvented himself as a “critic of Israel” a decade ago — and which I critiqued seven years ago. In all the years since, each time I was approached for a comment about some new bit of “bravery” from Peter Beinart, I always declined. My explanation whenever I was asked why was that I didn’t disagree with the views Beinart claimed he held — for a Jewish state, against the occupation — I just didn’t believe those were his actual views.
It turns out I was right to doubt him.
In my 2013 piece, I identified four themes to Beinart’s writing on Israel: (1) He makes sweeping judgements on scant evidence, that rely on out-of-date and out-of-context quotes. (2) Any observable outcome or effect or result of the Arab-Israeli conflict is for him an Israeli policy or the action of an Israeli subject on a Palestinian object. (3) He has no expectation of any kind of self-criticism by Palestinians or pro-Palestinian partisans and no capacity for a critical engagement with their actions and the effects they have on the conflict. (4) He consistently presents ideas that have been around for a long time as something new which he has just discovered, and thus manages to make them into a progressive reaction to Israeli actions rather than part of a long-standing rejection of sovereign Jewish life in the Middle East. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
Opinion: Is it Possible to Curb The Extreme Anti-Israel Bias of BBC? Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld World Israel News, Oct. 8, 2020
Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.K. Zvi Shtauber told me in an interview in 2005: “The BBC is a problem in itself. Over the years, I had endless conversations with them. Any viewer who looks at the BBC’s information on Israel for a consistent period gets a distorted picture. It doesn’t result from a single broadcast here or there. It derives from the BBC’s method of broadcasting. When reporting from Israel, the mosque on the Temple Mount is usually shown in the background, which gives viewers the impression that Jerusalem is predominantly Muslim.”
Shtauber summed up his remarks by saying it was almost a daily task for him to react to BBC distortions about Israel.
There has been a steady stream of complaints for decades about the BBC’s anti-Israel bias — more than enough to fill a book. The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) has a UK branch that maintains a special monitoring site solely to focus on the BBC’s anti-Israel bias.
Senior BBC producer Rosie Garthwaite is working on a new documentary critical of Israeli actions in eastern Jerusalem. She has admitted to sharing inaccurate pro-Palestinian propaganda on social media. She deleted a false map from her personal Twitter account that greatly overstated alleged Palestinian land loss to Israel, and she has been accused of sharing other false or controversial claims about Israel on social media.
Garthwaite has wrongly suggested that Gaza has only one border, and that that sole border is controlled by Israel. This is just a sampling of her anti-Israel propaganda. Senior BBC journalist Nimesh Thaker used the Twitter account @notthatbothered to belittle anti-Semitism. He promotes extremists like Jackie Walker, who was expelled from the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s chairmanship due to her anti-Semitism. Thaker has also used an anonymous social media account to support a text against Jewish presenter Emma Barnett, after she spoke out about the personal impact of anti-Semitism on her life.
Jewish activist David Collier wrote that one need not wonder why the leftist fringe group Jewish Voice for Labour is so often given BBC airtime. He added that people like Thaker write the news that millions of people read each day. He concluded that nothing in Britain bears more responsibility for the spread of the false anti-Israel narrative than the BBC.
One can go on and on. As Ambassador Shtauber observed, “Several key positions in the BCC are held by extreme leftists.”
He added that the BBC publishes its personnel advertisements in the left-wing daily The Guardian.
With so many biased journalists, it is not surprising that many cases of one-sidedness — including those not related to Jews or Israel — occur. Yet, up to now, there was little anyone could do other than criticize the BBC publicly. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.] ______________________________________________________
For Further Reference:
Yes, Take ‘1619’ to Task — But Problem Goes Beyond One Story: J. Peder Zane, RealClearPolitics, Oct. 13, 2020 — I’ll join the chorus calling New York Times columnist Bret Stephens “brave” for last week’s takedown of his newspaper’s “1619 Project.” But I’d also like to ask him: What took you so long?
The Misguided Campaign Against Journalistic Objectivity: Lorraine Clark, Quillette, Oct. 1, 2020 — Locked down in a northern Ontario cottage over the summer, I found myself listening to CBC Radio’s Sunday Edition, an eclectic three-hour weekly morning show hosted, until his recent retirement, by veteran journalist and broadcaster Michael Enright.