The humiliation of Western history

The humiliation of Western history, by Frank Furedi.

The most important issue at stake in the culture war is who controls the narrative through which society understands itself. At present, those controlling the narrative appear to be committed to reorganising society’s historical memory, and disputing and delegitimising its ideals, from liberty to equality. …

The humiliation and demonisation of the past and its ideals is now enacted at every important cultural event.

Prize-giving ceremonies, be they the Oscars, the Tonys or the Pulitzers, invariably include speeches boasting of the bravery of the recipient for daring to ‘speak truth to power’. Ironically, this supposedly rebellious rhetoric is espoused by those who actually wield cultural power. These cultural elites see it as their raison d’être to denounce the culture into which they were born. Moreover, they do so for the public’s benefit, in order to ‘raise awareness’. …

The 1619 project by the left in the US is the latest, outrageous rewriting of history:

One powerful proponent of the dogma of awareness-raising is The New York Times, the most influential newspaper in the US. In August 2019, it decided ‘to speak truth to power’ by launching the 1619 Project, an ongoing initiative, featuring essays and other contributions, which maintains that the year 1619, and not 1776, is the true origin of the US. This, the project argues, is because the US was founded for the purpose of entrenching slavery, and 1619 was the year African slaves first arrived in Jamestown. All subsequent US history is therefore shaped by this founding, enslaving moment.

From this distorted vantage point, the American Revolution is presented not so much as a War of Independence, but as a selfish attempt to preserve the exploitative and oppressive legacy of 1619. The famous founding assertion that ‘all men are created equal’, and are entitled to ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’, is denigrated as mere cover for the practices of a group of unprincipled and dishonest slave-owners.

Unlike previous initiatives designed to encourage people to look critically at uncomfortable truths about their past, the 1619 Project offers a ‘take it or leave it’ version of history. Its aim is not to criticise existing historical narratives about the US. It is to negate and even morally annihilate the very foundation on which the US was built. As the NYT put it: ‘Our founding ideals of liberty and equality were false when they were written. Black Americans fought to make them true. Without this struggle, America would have no democracy at all.’

In rejecting the founding ideals of liberty and equality as false, the 1619 Project strips America’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence, of every shred of moral authority. It also erases the profound contribution the American Revolution made to the development of the Western ideal of freedom.

The 1619 Project does not offer any new insights into the past. Rather, it seeks to contaminate the past and render it toxic.

Indeed, one of the main contributors to the project, Nikole Hannah-Jones, admits that its principal objective is not to shed light on the past, but to undermine the moral authority of the present. ‘I’ve always said that the 1619 Project is not history’, she writes. ‘It is a work of journalism that explicitly seeks to challenge the national narrative and therefore national memory. The project has always been as much about the present as it is about the past.’

Clearly for Hannah-Jones, the objective of the project is to alter America’s historical memory in order to gain control of the national narrative.

This sort of thing has been building for decades:

Since the 1980s, Western culture has exhibited a discernible discomfort with the past. The sense of national pride that inspired generations of British people, for instance, has given way to a powerful mood of estrangement from the past. This sensibility is widely promoted in schools and universities and by cultural institutions such as the BBC. Indeed, the school curriculum is increasingly dominated by projects pointing out the blemishes on Britain’s past, rather than drawing attention to its achievements. …

To cultivate a love of the British way of life was therefore deemed immoral. …

The use of terms like ‘Victorian values’ or ‘Victorian morality’ in Britain is now almost entirely derogatory.

The left/media are lying about the past in order to grab control in the present. Orwell warned us about this in 1984: “Who controls the past controls the future.”

A reader comments:

These cultural elites see it as their raison d’être to denounce the culture into which they were born.

That sentence sums it up precisely. It also begs the question ‘why’? It’s so hard to find a good answer to that because the only conclusion one can come to is they’re bent on burning their own house down.

Communists think they can build a better house, after they’ve burnt our house down. I’ll bet they’ve never read Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, which pretty much proves that tyranny and repression follow intrinsically from communism. “Oh no, not if we were in charge,” say today’s communists. Sure, power seekers.

UPDATE: ‘These are killers’: Giuliani blasts BLM as ‘terrorist group’ that ‘hate white people’.

Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for President Donald Trump, has slammed Black Lives Matter as a “domestic terrorist organization” full of “killers” who “hate white people” and want to “overthrow our way of life.” …

He added BLM and other liberal groups hate “white men especially” and want to do away with the traditional nuclear family. …

“Do you know who knows that best? African-Americans. I’ve actually had them tell me, why aren’t they classified as a terrorist group. Just because they are black, nobody can say it?”

See, burning down our house. Reminds me of some left-wing white man’s music from the 1980s:

hat-tip Stephen Neil