President Donald Trump on Monday created a “1776 Commission” to promote “patriotic education” and counter lessons that he says divide Americans on race and slavery and teach students to “hate their own country.”
On the eve of Election Day, Trump directed the commission’s creation, via executive order, to “better enable a rising generation to understand the history and principles of the founding of the United States in 1776 and to strive to form a more perfect Union.”
The order follows Trump’s recent attacks on critical race theory and the 1619 Project, directed by The New York Times Magazine, which revisits the country’s history with a focus on slavery and Black Americans’ contributions.
Last month Arwa Mahdawi wrote for The Guardian:
The federal government doesn’t have jurisdiction over school curriculum – but don’t let that reassure you into thinking that Trump’s 1776 Commission is pure puff. Whenever Trump comes out with an outrageous plan there are always people rushing to point out that he won’t actually be able to follow through with it; that checks and balances will stop him.
But Trump has already stormed through many of these checks and balances; he’s already normalized behaviour that would have brought down any other president. If he gets another term there are no limits to what he might do; hello re-education camps, goodbye reproductive rights!
And that, ultimately, is what his speech on Thursday was about; it wasn’t so much about American history as it was about America’s future. It was a promise to his base that he will Make America White Again.