Southern Evangelical Seminary President Dr. Richard Land: New York Times Engages in Revisionist History With 1619 Project
“Slavery Was Not at the ‘Very Center’ of the American Project from the Very Beginning—And It’s Not Foundational to Every Aspect of American Life”
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—According to The New York Times, slavery in America saw its beginnings 400 years ago this month, when in August 1619, a ship carrying enslaved Africans arrived in the British colony of Virginia. “Though America did not even exist yet, their arrival marked its foundation, the beginning of the system of slavery on which the country was built,” The New York Times reports.
Consequently, notes Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES, www.ses.edu) President Dr. Richard Land, The New York Times has launched the “1619 Project,” a continuing campaign to examine and explain “the many ways the legacy of slavery continues to shape and define life in the United States.”
“The New York Times has now devoted huge resources to its 1619 Project,” Land says. “An extremely ambitious attempt to ‘reframe the country’s history by placing slavery at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.’ Why? Because The New York Times believes that slavery was far more than America’s original sin. ‘It is the country’s very origin.’ Therefore, they conclude, ‘out of slavery grew nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional.’ In the terrible aftermath of Jim Crow, segregation has undeniably significantly impacted America and Americans—black Americans most of all—and it still impacts us.
“As William Faulkner once said, ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.’ As a history major,” Land continues, “I firmly believe that. The past always impacts us, but The New York Times is engaging in revisionist history of the worst sort. Slavery was not at the very center of the American project from the very beginning. And it’s not foundational to every aspect of American life. Slavery has never defined the country, and its vision of itself, as it morphed from the city on a hill to the last best hope of mankind. In fact, America is the first nation in the history of the world not based on race or ethnicity. It’s based on the belief that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. And we’re still trying to live out that vision and fulfill that promise. That’s why so many people from all around the world still want to come here so badly.”
Land addresses The New York Times’ 1619 Project in his “Bringing Every Thought Captive” radio feature several days this week, where he adds that not only is the media outlet wrong in reassigning the year of America’s birth, but also in stating that slavery defines every aspect of our nation from the beginning. This is an “absurd and dangerous claim.”
“As the Washington Examiner’s Byron York observes, ‘the basic thrust of the 1619 project is that everything in American history is explained by slavery and race.’ One example from The Times: ‘If you want to understand the brutality of American capitalism, you have to start on the plantation.’ One can acknowledge, as I do,” Land says, “that every plantation should be correctly viewed as a slave labor camp and still not believe it defined American capitalism, which is the envy of the world and has produced more wealth for more people than any other system ever devised here on this planet.
“And,” Land adds, “America didn’t begin in 1619. American civilization developed along the Atlantic seaboard of North America with the Puritans in New England; the Dutch, the British and the Quakers in the middle colonies; and the British and French Huguenots in the South—as well as Native-Americans and African-Americans, slave and free, in all three regions. By 1776, a distinct English-speaking civilization had developed on what was to become America. And while it was certainly significantly impacted in terrible ways by the evil of slavery and the racism slavery required, it was not the defining character of this new, unique kind of country. Our American founders envisioned a nation where all men are created equal—an ideal we are still striving to completely realize today and tomorrow.
“Yes, slavery and racism have been a terrible serpent in our midst from the beginning, but it has never defined who we are,” he concluded. “The great American film director Billy Wilder—an Austrian immigrant who fled the Nazis—once said, ‘You’re only as good as the best thing you’ve ever done.’ Our founders’ vision, proclaimed in 1776 and solidified in 1787, is the best thing any nation has ever done, as we commenced the long journey toward implementing that vision, fulfilling those promises and inspiring much of the world to follow our lead. That vision of ‘all men are created equal’ has inspired tens of millions from around the globe for more than two centuries, including a former slave, Frederick Douglass, the descendants of former slaves, such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Justice Clarence Thomas, and multitudes of people of all ethnicities to make America the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave.’ John C. Calhoun, George Wallace and Lester Maddox are in America’s rearview mirror. Millions of us will never abandon our pursuit of the full realization of Dr. King’s dream of a country, and a world, where we are ‘not judged by the color of our skin but by the content of our character.’ While we are informed by the ghosts that haunt our history, never let us be distracted from our ultimate goal of fully achieving the American dream.”
Headlines like these link directly into SES’s curriculum as students delve into Christian apologetics, how it applies to practical daily life, and how to rationally, intelligently and lovingly defend the historic Christian faith. At SES, students also debate news and commentary through its “Philosophy, Politics and Economics” program. Offered primarily at just a few top-tier universities around the world, SES’s PPE program introduces students to a Christian perspective of how philosophy, politics and economics intersect, focusing on the works of Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Henry Hazlitt, Karl Marx, Thomas Aquinas, Robert Sirico, Jay Richards and others. In the creation of SES’s PPE program, the realization was made that virtually all cultural issues will have the potential to relate to the studies in the concentration, according to Land and other architects of the program. Nearly every issue that creates discussion and debate in our society is connected to what SES teaches through PPE.
SES’s 26th annual National Conference on Christian Apologetics (NCCA) is set for Oct. 11-12 at Calvary Church in Charlotte. For the 2019 event, SES is focusing on the theme of “Why Truth Still Matters” and is welcoming some of the nation’s top apologetics speakers, including Michael Brown, Alisa Childers, Gary Habermas, Richard Howe, Chip Ingram, Richard Land, Mike Licona, Stephen Meyer, Jeff Myers, Hugh Ross and Frank Turek, among others. For over a quarter-century, SES’s annual conference has provided Christians with the tools, knowledge and motivation to defend their beliefs in a culture that is sometimes hostile toward Christianity. The conference will also include a special tribute to Dr. Norman Geisler, SES’s co-founder, longtime professor and President Emeritus, who passed away July 1. Learn more or register here.