As I informed you all on Sunday, the NY Times has made a valuable and powerful contribution to the discussion of race in America that is ongoing with the 1619 Project. It's taken me most of the last two days to digest the multiple articles, and the screaming rage from the right over even having that conversation on anything other than 100% their terms has driven them into paroxysms of thunderous verbal flatulence, as Slate's Ashley Feinberg notes.
Conservative pundits were not happy to see this. Right-wing intellectual heavyweights such as Newt Gingrich or right-wing intellectual junior middleweights such as Erick Erickson spent the past few days obsessively tweeting or yelling at you from your TV screens to make sure America knew that the New York Times was trying to—well, that part was not entirely clear.
For white conservatives, accepting that the United States wouldn’t exist without slavery would mean acknowledging that the Founders were not the creators of an infallible civic religion, which sets the limits on all modern claims for justice. It would mean that liberty was, in practice, as much a matter of exclusion as inclusion, and that success and prosperity owe more to centuries of exploitation than to God’s blessing of an exceptional people.
But their political project depends on not even considering those possibilities. And so their response was equal parts furious and vague, a barrage of arguments that discussing this country’s history is the last thing this country needs: the Times was being divisive, or it was being nihilistic, or it was implementing a secret scheme to make Americans vote against Trump by claiming that racism was an ongoing problem.
Mostly, they wanted to express that they were very personally angry. The fact that they took a wide-ranging examination of slavery’s lasting ills as an attack on themselves was a fairly obvious confession.
And that's where we are right now, the anti-intellectual modern Know-Nothings bleat about how America will be made great again if we can just get those people to stop talking about how maybe a country that did everything it could to keep black America down might be an ongoing, systemic issue while convincing themselves that they've already done enough.
I see this on social media, too. Very "clever" (and 99.98% of the time, white) people simply respond with how being black in America is better than being black anywhere else on Earth, and I laugh and say "Would you be black for even a day in this country?"