As we talk about the future, we also need to confront the past. History, with all its complexities, defines our civilization, creating both cautionary tales and forging a common identity, which is particularly critical for relatively young and highly diverse countries.
Yet this common narrative, something that unites rather than divides, is slowly slipping away, a victim of a relentless, unbalanced, often ahistorical assault on the heritage that shaped our national destinies. Both the United States and Canada have much to feel guilty about, for sure, but on balance, the totality of our national experiences should justifiably invoke a sense of pride that can help forge a better future.
In the United States, not surprisingly, the assault on the past focuses increasingly on genuine crimes, notably the eviction of Native-Americans, something we share with Canadians, and the enslavement of Africans. These outrages were discussed extensively even when I was in high school more than a half century ago and should be part of any curriculum, as even Gov. Ron DeSantis acknowledge.
Yet increasingly, these awful blemishes blot out all other narratives. The new common notion focuses not on how our countries provided home to millions of oppressed and impoverished people from around the world, but instead insist that the whole national experience was based on racism and oppression. This thesis, which is pushed by many academics, as well as the originator of the New York Times’ 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones, whose views are widely admired on college campuses, where Jones has received speaking fees of over US$500,000
Sadly, her history is more like a good shtick. Indeed, leading historians of the time have said her project presented an “unbalanced, one-sided account” that “left most of the history out,” as Princeton’s James McPherson put it. Much of the push-back came from more traditional leftists like Gordon Wood, Victoria Bynum, an outspoken socialist, and James Oakes.
Read the rest of this piece at National Post.
Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at joelkotkin.com and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.