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The 1619 Project has not been having an easy time of it. Ever since the Pulitzer Prize-winning essays first appeared in the New York Times in August 2019, historians have been chipping away at some of the central claims. No, they’ve shown, protecting slavery was not the primary motive of the American revolutionaries when they broke away from Britain in 1776. No, the arrival of 20 African slaves at Jamestown was not when the country “began.”
The project’s creator, Nikole Hannah-Jones, was at first boldly dismissive of the attacks, but she has more recently been going through contortions to insist that she didn’t say what she demonstrably said; she has even erased her Twitter feed. The New York Times has likewise done some stealth editing of its own, altering some of the more controversial assertions in the online edition. A few weeks ago, President Trump himself went on the attack.