Historian KC Johnson is rightly critical of the combination of cowardice and ideological bias that prevents many historians from publicly criticizing the New York Times‘s “1619 Project.” Here’s his conclusion:
Gordon Wood has argued that the Times’s handling of the historians’ letter means that “in the long run the Project will lose its credibility, standing, and persuasiveness with the nation as a whole.” Perhaps. School administrators should certainly be reluctant to use the Project’s eighteenth- and nineteenth-century curricular material for their students. But the affair has also exposed shortcomings within the historical community. The Project’s slipperiness with the factual record provided a golden opportunity for professional historians to stand up for scholarship in an era where so many seem indifferent to objective facts. The Bynum letter’s signatories passed this test, but the broader historical community appears to have failed.
Designating an offense as a hate crime criminalizes not the action but the idea that supposedly impelled it. Here we are but a step away from the “thoughtcrime” George Orwell described in “1984.”
Properly, the law should ask only two questions about your state of mind. First, do you have the faculty of reason that allows you to distinguish right from wrong? Second, did you intend to do the crime you committed? Beyond that, as James Madison repeatedly insisted, you have freedom of conscience. You can believe whatever you want, however politically incorrect—especially since today’s political correctness may be deemed tyranny in retrospect. In a far-flung republic composed of various subgroups, multiple viewpoints and interests are bound to proliferate. Under such circumstances, toleration is required.
Jonah Goldberg predicts that the “2020 presidential campaign will be even uglier than the 2016 contest.” (Expecting politics to be not-ugly is as realistic as expecting people slathered in crude oil and wrestling in mud to be not-ugly.)