Yes. Yes, that's it.
Katherine Kersten's severely unnecessary column in Sunday's Star Tribune was intended as a rebuke to the New York Times' 1619 Project, a series covering slavery's role as a foundational element to the creation of the United States. The stories are provocative and powerful, and have stirred debate about this country's literally torturous historical treatment of black people.
This had little or no effect on Kersten, church-lady-in-residence at the Center of the American Experiment think tank, whose central criticism of the 1619 Project is that it has the dangerous potential of making you feel bad about America for a few minutes.
Kersten is super horny for the Founding Fathers, and is convinced they didn't do anything other than spread freedom and liberty. If the generations of people born into slavery who knew nothing but toil and torture had simply waited to be born in a different century, they, too, would appreciate the Founders' brilliance in all its glory.
In an apparent attempt to set some sort of record for factual inaccuracy and moral bankruptcy in the fewest words possible, Kersten describes slavery as "a universal and unquestioned practice throughout most of human history." (Among those who definitely questioned slavery: people with a conscience, abolitionists... slaves.)
She continues: "Our history, with fits and starts, has been one long progress toward freedom, lighting a beacon to which people of all races have flocked." That some of those freedom-seeking people who happened to be from just one of those races "flocked" in chains would make Kersten sad, so she doesn't mention it.
Kersten also faults 1619 for "focusing uniquely on the U.S.," when in fact slaves were shipped all over the Americas. It seems this series about United States history focuses "uniquely" on the history of the United States, and Kersten simple does not get why. Add this to the list of things she doesn't get.
"In truth," Kersten writes later, "America’s national story is one long quest for civil rights." Let's set aside the fact that framing history as some sort of upward march toward an ever-more-enlightened society is like telling someone to be grateful they got cancer so they could try to survive it.
You only need a "long quest for civil rights" if certain people don't already have them, and certain other people are trying to keep it that way—people like Katherine Kersten, who has opposed gay marriage, affirmative action, and racial equity in schools. If it weren't for heroes like Katherine, people wouldn't have to fight for equal rights. They'd just have them in the first place.
Kersten's piece caught the attention of Nikole Hannah-Jones, lead author on the 1619 Project, who questioned whether Kersten had even read her stories in the first place.
Forgive Hannah-Jones for assuming facts would've helped. She doesn't know Kersten.
Then again, maybe Kersten is just short-sighted, like those slaves who never lived to see freedom. Let's hope she does some thinking and waits a little while before delving back into this topic. How's another 400 years sound?
I can appreciate @StribOpinion running pieces counter to the #1619Project. Honest debate is appreciated. But to dedicate this much real estate while providing no access to the original project seems really, well, trashy. Especially now, nearly four months out. https://t.co/G4i6qbfPin— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) December 8, 2019
Also, wonder about the fact-checki g project since some of the things she accuses the project of not doing, it actually does. Which one would know if one actually read it.— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) December 8, 2019
Like, it’s amazing to accuse the project of being simplistic and misleading and then going on to summarize 100 years of racial apartheid, terrorism and legally sanctioned subversion of the 13,14,15 amendments in a single sentence about Brown v Board of Education. pic.twitter.com/RexCxQSAwU— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) December 8, 2019
Or to write this about James Madison while never saying that he was an enslaved who wrote the 3/5 compromise into the Constitution and did not free the humans he owned even when he died. Or that Franklin opposed both slavery AND black equality. pic.twitter.com/TGfeRFGM45— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) December 8, 2019
Also: Your argument is that we should not be too hard on the colonists because it was just too inconvenient to end the institution of human slavery, legal torture, rape and bondage? Really??— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) December 8, 2019