WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden has revoked a recent Trump administration report that aimed to promote patriotic education in schools, but that historians mocked and rejected as political propaganda.
In an executive order signed on Wednesday in his first day in office, Biden disbanded Donald Trump’s presidential 1776 Commission and withdrew a report it released on Monday.
Trump established the group in September to rally support from white voters and as a response to The New York Times 1619 Project, which highlights the lasting consequences of slavery in America.
In its report, which Trump hoped would be used in classrooms across the nation, the commission glorifies the country’s founders, plays down America’s role in slavery, condemns the rise of progressive politics and argues that the civil rights movement ran afoul of the lofty ideals espoused by the founders.
The panel, which included no professional historians of the United States, complained of false and fashionable ideologies that depict the country’s story as one of oppression and victimhood. Instead, it called for renewed efforts to foster a “brave and honest love for our country”.
Historians widely panned the report, saying it offers a false and outdated version of American history that ignores decades of research.
“It’’s an insult to the whole enterprise of education. Education is supposed to help young people learn to think critically,” said David Blight, a civil war historian at Yale University. “That report is a piece of right-wing propaganda.”
Trump officials heralded the report as a definitive chronicle of the American founding, but scholars say it disregards the most basic rules of scholarship. It offers no citations, for example, or a list of its source materials.
It also includes several passages copied directly from other writings by members of the panel, as one professor found after running the report through software that’s used to detect plagiarism.
Matthew Spalding, the panel’s executive director and a vice president at the conservative Hillsdale College, defended the report, saying it calls for a return to the unifying ideals stated in the 1776 Declaration of Independence.
He said in a statement that the report “wasn’t written for academic historians, but for the American people, and I encourage them to read it for themselves.”
Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2021