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Andrew Sullivan on the 1619 Project

Andrew Sullivan has a helpful piece analyzing The New York Times “1619 Project” at New York magazine. Sullivan discusses the project and its ambitions and the internal tensions and contradictions that plague the series throughout. He thinks the discordant conclusions and premises of pieces in the series reveal an extant tug-of-war between the liberal NYT brass and the paper’s more radical writers and contributors. He writes:

Ta-Nehisi Coates, in his first memoir, The Beautiful Struggle, mocked his own father for this kind of naive patriotism, viewing him at one point as “an acolyte of that peculiar black faith that makes us patriots despite the yoke. So he worshiped JFK, got amped off old war movies.” It was only later that Coates Senior saw the truth that the plight of African-Americans “was not a tumor to be burrowed out but proof that this whole body was a tumor, that America was not a victim of great rot but rot itself.”

It seems to me that the New York Times’ editors and reporters want to say this, but not quite so explicitly. So the issue is riddled with weirdnesses like the opening sentence. 1619 is the “true” founding at one point, and then only “as important as” 1776 at another. The original ideals were false, and then the country was founded on “both an ideal and a lie.” It’s as if liberal editors reined in radical writers but couldn’t do so coherently, and lost the plot at times. Which is a good way of understanding the NYT as a whole right now, and the internal conversation that took place in the office soon after.

You can read the rest of the piece here.


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