Trump accused of trying to change view of US history

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A commission formed by outgoing United States President Donald Trump to promote “patriotic education” has released its report instructing educators to teach slavery in a broader context while grouping progressivism and identity politics with racism, communism and fascism as threats to US principles.

The report published on Tuesday was written by The President’s Advisory 1776 Commission, which Trump announced the formation of in September against the backdrop of a summer of nationwide racial injustice protests following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed in May by a White police officer.

In his announcement of the commission, Trump blamed the political left for having “warped, distorted and defiled the American story with deceptions, falsehood and lies” and that the “left-wing rioting and mayhem are the direct result of decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools.”

The report was released a little more than a month after Trump announced the commission’s 18 conservative members, none of who is a historian, and amid uncertainty that they would even meet with weeks remaining before his administration would leave the White House.

The White House released the report on Tuesday describing it as “a definitive chronicle of the American founding” but was quickly chastised by historians and organizations.

The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday accused the Trump administration of attempting to rewrite history.

“America has existed longer with slavery than without, and reports like this make it clear that its legacy continues to manifest through systemic racism,” it said in a statement.

Jim Grossman, the executive director of the American Historical Association, said the report “weaves myth, distortion, deliberate silences and misreading of evidence to create narrative/argument few professional historians would consider plausible.”

And Thomas Sugrue, a professor of social cultural analysis and history at New York University, said the report could be boiled down to three arguments: that slavery was an aberration in US history; that progressivism is un-American; and that the recognition of group identities is racist.

“Its absurdities are compounded by its omissions,” he continued via Twitter. “Where are the native Americans? No mention. How convenient.”

In the 45-page report, the commission writes framing the founders as proponents of slavery is not only untrue but “has done enormous damage, especially in recent years, with a devastating effect on civic unity and social fabric” and that slavery must be viewed in a broader perspective, and not simply a US institution.

It also lists progressivism and couples racism with identity politics as threats to US principles, which also includes slavery, communism and fascism.

Under the racism and identity politics section, the commission said in the report that the Civil Rights Movement following the major legislative reforms concerning segregation in the 1960s “almost immediately turned to programs that ran counter to the lofty ideals of the founders.” CURRENTPH

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