Biden SCOTUS Nominee Praised Incendiary, Fact-Challenged '1619 Project' in Speech


When it became clear that GOP senators weren’t pushing for an all-out Kavanaugh-style mud fight on President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono sarcastically remarked that Republicans are “setting it up that they’re just so wonderful people,” according to Newsweek.

“They can’t find enough ways that they can really attack her, so maybe they’re putting out a narrative that ‘look how reasonable and wonderful we all are,'” said Hirono, who was neither reasonable nor wonderful during the confirmation hearings for Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

We’ll certainly see whether that’s the case, given there’s now a line of attack: In a speech two years ago, Jackson endorsed The New York Times’ controversial “1619 Project,” which aims to reframe the entirety of American history as being centered around slavery.

(The Western Journal has covered the numerous errors and divisive, incendiary rhetoric in “The 1619 Project” — a work that liberals want to teach in more and more public schools. We’ll continue to cover the left’s push to get Americans to accept this ugly pack of lies about our history. You can help us bring readers the truth by subscribing.)

According to The Daily Wire, which reported Thursday that Jackson had given a number of speeches in which she praised figures associated with critical race theory, the remarks in question came during a January 2020 lecture at the University of Michigan Law School.

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The speech, which was part of the university’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day festivities, was titled “Black Women Leaders in the Civil Rights Movement Era and Beyond.”

One of these leaders was Nikole Hannah-Jones, the writer and scholar who was the motivating force behind “The 1619 Project.”

“[A]cclaimed investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones (who happens to be a black woman) explains that the men who drafted and enacted the Constitution founded this nation on certain ideals: freedom; equality; democracy,” Jackson said, according to a transcription of her remarks.

“Yet, at the time they formulated these principles, the institution of slavery already existed in the colonies — ever since the year 1619, when 20-to-30 Africans who had been captured in their homeland arrived in the colonies by ship and were exchanged for goods.”

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“Thus, it is Jones’s provocative thesis that the America that was born in 1776 was not the perfect union that it purported to be, and that it is actually only through the hard work, struggles, and sacrifices of African Americans over the past two centuries that the United States has finally become the free nation that the Framers initially touted,” she added.

Of course, Hannah-Jones’ framing of the Framers is precisely why “The 1619 Project” got into hot water — namely, because historians, including figures solidly on the left, challenged the project’s assertion that the Revolutionary War was fought over slavery.

“Conveniently left out of our founding mythology is the fact that one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery,” Hannah-Jones wrote.

This was because, she said, Britain “had grown deeply conflicted over its role in the barbaric institution” and abolishing slavery “would have upended the economy of the colonies, in both the North and the South.”

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Britain was so deeply conflicted over slavery that it didn’t abolish it until 1833 — more than half a century after 1776 — and, by 1804, every state in the North had abolished slavery. (Most of them had done it by 1783.)

Five prominent historians had a letter published in the Times in which they expressed “strong reservations about important aspects of The 1619 Project,” particularly the claim about the Civil War.

“If supportable, the allegation would be astounding — yet every statement offered by the project to validate it is false. Some of the other material in the project is distorted, including the claim that ‘for the most part,’ black Americans have fought their freedom struggles ‘alone,'” the historians wrote.

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All of which would be a problematic flashpoint on its own, given the error-riddled project is laced with elements of critical race theory. In the same speech — and in others as well — Jackson praised actual critical race theorists.

To quote the woman who coined the term, legal scholar Kimberle Crenshaw, critical race theory is the view that “racism is endemic to, rather than a deviation from, American norms.” Thus, all American norms must be deconstructed from that starting point.

In the 2020 speech, the Supreme Court nominee praised Derrick Bell — a man the Daily Wire noted is “often touted as the godfather of CRT” — and said his 1993 book “Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism” was in her family’s house during her formative years.

“My parents had this book on their coffee table for many years, and I remember staring at the image on the cover when I was growing up; I found it difficult to reconcile the image of the person, who seemed to be smiling, with the depressing message that the title and subtitle conveyed,” Jackson said.

“I thought about this book cover again for the first time in 40 years when I started preparing for this speech, because, before the civil rights gains of the 1960s, black women were the quintessential faces at the bottom of the well of American society, given their existence at the intersection of race and gender — both of which were highly disfavored characteristics,” she said.

While certainly popular in academia, critical race theory has proved problematic to educators, legislators and policymakers when it exits the institutions and enters the real world.

Unlike the character assassination of Kavanaugh or the low-key attempts to smear Barrett over her faith, Jackson’s comments about Hannah-Jones and CRT are a substantive argument against Republican support for the nominee, particularly given the divisive nature of the legal theory.

If GOP senators don’t raise the issue during her confirmation hearings, which start Monday, I’d argue that, to use Hirono’s words, “they’re just so wonderful people.”

Effective legislators, no, but certainly wonderful people — for the Democrats.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture