President Trump said Thursday that the Left’s cancel culture, critical race theory and the 1619 Project by The New York Times are “toxic propaganda” that Americans must eliminate from the workplace and from schools for the sake of national unity.
“American parents are not going to accept indoctrination in our schools, cancel culture at work, or the repression of traditional faith, culture and values in the public square. Not anymore,” the president said in a speech at the National Archives in Washington.
He said critical race theory, the 1619 Project “and the crusade against American history is toxic propaganda — an ideological poison that, if not removed, will dissolve the civic bonds that tie us together.”
Mr. Trump announced to cheers that he will sign an executive order soon to establish a national commission, called the 1776 Commission, to “promote patriotic education.”
“We must clear away the twisted web of lies in our schools and classrooms, and teach our children the magnificent truth about our country,” the president said. “We want our sons and daughters to know that they are the citizens of the most exceptional nation in the history of the world.”
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, speaking at another forum in Washington on Thursday, said the federal government “does not have a role in a national curriculum.”
“Curriculum is best left to the states and local districts at local education agencies, but we can talk about curriculum that actually honors and respects our history and embraces all of the parts of our history and continues to build on that,” she said.
She praised, for example, the “1776 Unites” curriculum, conservatives’ answer to the 1619 Project.
The Times’ 1619 Project focuses on re-framing U.S. history around the effects of slavery and the contributions of Blacks. The project’s creator, Nikole Hannah-Jones, was awarded a Pulitzer Prize this year, although the project is disputed by some leading historians as ideologically driven and factually inaccurate.
The president earlier threatened to revoke federal funding from California schools if they continue to teach a curriculum based on the project.
In a speech on the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, Mr. Trump said “a radical movement is attempting to demolish this treasured and precious inheritance.” He tied it to demonstrators’ campaign this year to destroy and vandalize historical statues around the country, many of them dedicated to the Confederacy.
“We are here today to declare that we will never submit to tyranny,” Mr. Trump said. “We will reclaim our history, and our country, for citizens of every race, color, religion and creed.”
The president said the movement by the Left is trying “to make students ashamed of their own history.”
“The left has warped, distorted and defiled the American story with deceptions, falsehoods and lies,” Mr. Trump said. “There is no better example than The New York Times’ totally discredited 1619 Project. This project rewrites American history to teach our children that we were founded on the principle of oppression, not freedom. Nothing could be further from the truth. America’s founding set in motion the unstoppable chain of events that abolished slavery, secured civil rights, defeated Communism and fascism and built the most fair, equal and prosperous nation in human history.”
Two House Republicans introduced legislation Thursday that would bar federal funds from schools with curriculum featuring the 1619 Project, which they said indoctrinates K-12 students with fake history.
The bill, sponsored by Reps. Ken Buck of Colorado and Rick Allen of Georgia, is companion legislation to a measure introduced in July by Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican.
“The 1619 Project teaches children a historically inaccurate account of our nation’s history,” Mr. Buck said. “Federal funding should not go towards schools that teach flawed and inaccurate curriculum in classrooms. We should be able to acknowledge the stains on our nation’s history while still continuing to celebrate the good our country has done.”
Mr. Cotton called the curriculum, being taught in about 4,500 classrooms nationwide, “left-wing garbage.”
The project seeks to revise American history by arguing that 1619 — the year the first slave was brought to North America — represents the country’s actual founding.
Mr. Trump also blamed “decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools” for the rioting in several major cities this summer and took aim at critical race theory, which he said “is being forced into our children’s schools, it’s being imposed into workplace training. And it’s being deployed to rip apart friends, neighbors and families.”
He pointed to a “whiteness” graphic displayed by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture that ascribed traits such as “hard work,” “self-reliance,” “delayed gratification,” being on time, and politeness to “white culture.” It was removed in July after less than two months.
“A perfect example of critical race theory was recently published by the Smithsonian Institution,” the president said. “This document alleged that concepts such as hard work, rational thinking, the nuclear family and belief in God were not values that unite all Americans, but were instead aspects of ‘Whiteness.’ This is offensive and outrageous to Americans of every ethnicity, and it is especially harmful to children of minority backgrounds who should be uplifted, not disparaged.
“Teaching this horrible doctrine to our children is a form of child abuse in the truest sense.”
Democrats criticized the president’s rhetoric.
“Today, hundreds more Americans died from COVID, small businesses went broke, parents wondered how they were going to feed their children,” tweeted former Obama speechwriter David Litt. “So I’m glad President Trump has a plan to fight the 1619 Project.”
The president this month banned critical-race theory training in federal agencies. The training addresses “White privilege.” The White House called it “anti-American propaganda.”
He said radicals “have mistaken Americans’ silence for weakness.”
“But they are wrong. There is no more powerful force than a parent’s love for their children – and patriotic moms and dads are going to demand that their children are no longer fed hateful lies about this country,” he said. “The only path to national unity is through our shared identity as Americans. That is why it is so urgent that we finally restore patriotic education to our schools.”
The president said the cancel culture movement has been “aided and abetted by liberal politicians, establishment media and even large corporations.”
“Whether it is the mob on the street, or the cancel culture in the boardroom, the goal is the same: to silence dissent, to scare you out of speaking the truth, and to bully Americans into abandoning their values, their heritage, and their very way of life.”