The 1619 project and living in truth

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The controversy over the New York Times’s 1619 Project is the latest in a set of recurring struggles over how American history ought to be taught and understood. The author tells the story of how he came to be involved in the controversy, and how he and a small group of liberal colleagues, objecting to grave factual errors in the project, found themselves in-creasingly stranded as the debate sharply polarized. Instead of doing their professional duty in keeping the facts straight, the Times editors opted for face-saving evasions, only to see their claims of accuracy and respect for facts collapse. The controversy signals a flattening of historical perspective made worse under the presidency of Donald Trump, promoting cynical, highly ideological claims to the effect that sustaining white supremacy has, since the founding of the U.S., been the nation’s core principle and chief mission. Amid the threat to free and honest intellectual discourse which the controversy signifies, American historians must learn the lesson of „living in truth,“ in their historical work as well as in politics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-101
Number of pages15
JournalOpera Historica
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History


  • 1619 Project
  • Alex Lichtenstein
  • American Historical Review
  • American Revolution
  • American history
  • Antislavery
  • Donald J. Trump
  • Gordon S. Wood
  • Historical studies
  • Jake Silverstein
  • Lerone Bennett Jr
  • Leslie M. Harris
  • New York Times Magazine
  • Nikole Hannah-Jones
  • Racism
  • Sean Wilentz
  • Slavery


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