This post is the fourth in a series by Christopher Flannery, host of The American Story podcast, on America’s identity and founding ideals and their implications for 2020. Here are the first, second, and third installments.—Eds.
Back in October, 2019, when all of us lived in a different world, I wrote what I called an “American Meditation,” the occasion for which was the New York Times’s announcement of its 1619 Project. A couple of other meditations followed on the same theme. Many others wrote on the subject.
Then came impeachment, the virus, the lockdowns, the destruction of the economy, masks, social distancing, and now, the riots.
Today, the country is in the midst of a crisis and catastrophe maybe as great as the crisis and catastrophe that culminated in the Civil War.
The framework of my meditations is that while thousands, hundreds, and dozens—the few and the very few—must think deeply over lifetimes about questions of vital interest to self-governing people, the rest of us millions of self-governing people have to choose and act, often with urgency, in the midst of relative chaos, and with the greatest stakes. I think it is not melodramatic to say that what is at stake in the forthcoming November elections is the American way of life.
The Claremont Institute’s recent statement on the crisis expresses some essential truths about the present crisis and the choice facing America:
The pretext for this entire nationwide riot is that America is a racist country…. Why is it that so many of our citizens believe that America is racist to its core? Because this lie has been preached by our universities and media like the Gospel for a generation. From there it has traveled throughout society, particularly among the elite. Even most leaders on the Right are unwilling to refute this destructive untruth. In failing to do so, they promote the falsehood, the riots that it has engendered, and ultimately America’s destruction. This is to say, the riots are the handiwork of the elite….
As we see written in flames in these riots and hear in all the commentary on them, the great divide in America is between those who believe that America is evil and needs to be destroyed, and those who believe that America is good and needs to be preserved. A version of that question is what the 2016 elections were about, and what the elections in 2020 will be about. The nation has a party devoted to transforming the American way of life; it needs a party devoted to preserving the American way of life.
America must have a full accounting of how the riots happened, who made them happen, and who let them happen. Those in power must be held to account. Most fundamentally, the lies that have been the core curriculum of American education must be replaced with the truth. The only way America can survive is as a united country dedicated to living out the true meaning of its creed. The elite want to rob us of that future. The rest of us should pledge our lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to stopping them.
No one in America teaches with more authority and ambition that America is racist to the core than the New York Times’s 1619 Project.
In her MacArthur Foundation-supported, Pulitzer prize-winning essay expressing the project’s animating idea, celebrity New York Times columnist Nikole Hannah-Jones asserts that “anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country.” In her commentary on the ongoing riots, she lays bare the project’s underlying morality: “Destroying property, which can be replaced, is not violence.”
I have called the party devoted to preserving the American way of life “the Party of 1776.” The party devoted to transforming (and destroying) the American way of life I have called “the Party of 1619.” It remains to be seen whether the Republican Party will make itself the Party of 1776. But if there had been any doubt, this crisis makes clear that the Democratic Party now belongs to the Party of 1619.
The full account of this historic catastrophe will take deep thinkers years, volumes, and even libraries to produce. To begin, we must publicly recognize that these are The 1619 Riots, proudly co-sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation, the Pulitzer Prize Board, the New York Times, the Party of 1619, and their elite friends and allies.