From today’s WSJ The Weaponization of History by Wilfred McClay
History is the most humbling and humanizing of subjects. It opens reality to us in all its gorgeous variety, from the earthbound lives of ordinary peasants and servants to the rarefied universe of the mighty and wealthy, and the astonishing range of human experience in between. It seeks to provide a balanced and honest record of humanity’s achievements and enormities alike, generous enough to acknowledge the mixture of motives that every one of us flawed humans bring to life’s tasks.
That, at any rate, is how it ought to be. But instead of expanding our minds and hearts, history is increasingly used to narrow them. Instead of helping us to deepen ourselves and take a mature and complex view of the past, history is increasingly employed as a simple bludgeon, which picks its targets mechanically—often based on little more than a popular cliché—and strikes.
The weaponizing of history corresponds invariably with a remarkable hostility to history. Its practitioners are content to slice a single fact out of a web of details, then repeat that fact with the stubbornness of protesters who have memorized a chant.
But that cannot last forever. Once history becomes a club, it quickly loses its credibility as history. The grossly exaggerated claims of the Times’s “1619 Project” are likely to bring on just such discredit.
An excellent article that should be read in its entirety. (May be fire-walled)
Thus 1619 Project from the NYT is the opposite of history; it is anti-history. Instead of studying the past to learn about the present, it projects current passions on the past. Confirming events are generalized to be the sole motivation, non confirming events are ignored or minimized as inconsequential.
To conjoin slavery with capitalism is just the politicalization of history; distorting history to attain current political goals. It is yet another form of illiberal thinking, an intellectually lazy way to avoid real discussion. It also diminishes a real understanding of the issues of slavery and fascism and neuters their real historical value.
National Review covers a more detailed view of the blatant historical and logical errors of the 1619 Project in How the 1619 Project Rehabilitates the ‘King Cotton’ Thesis:
The thrust of these exaggerations is to recast slavery as a distinctly capitalistic enterprise, which, in turn, services the 1619 Project’s political message. The worthy historical task of documenting the horrors of American slavery has been cynically repurposed into an ideological attack on free-market capitalism. But in a curious final twist, the “King Cotton” theorists of old would have likely balked at the decision by their latter-day inheritors to label plantation slavery a capitalistic enterprise. To the original pro-slavery theorists, the very free-market theories that Baptist and the New York Times indict were an existential threat. The philosophical doctrines we now know as capitalism were “tainted with abolition, and at war with our institutions,” to quote an 1857 tract by leading pro-slavery theorist George Fitzhugh, and for slavery to survive this attack, he said, the South must “throw Adam Smith, Say, Ricardo & Co., in the fire.”