On Wednesday, McConnell told the press that the fact the world participated in slavery and the slave trade during the 17th century means that in America historians marking the first enslaved Africans brought to the Americas isn’t important history. That’s what he argued.
Man, turtles live a long time.
McConnell’s answer came out of a question from The Courier Journal concerning his support or opposition to the kinds of constraints his fellow Republicans are trying to put on public school teachers and educators. He went on to say that the federal government shouldn’t tell schools what to teach, and he also didn’t seem to knock the fact that Republicans across the country are the only political group telling schools what they should teach.
Mitch McConnell has previously described the focus on the 1619 date in American history as an “exotic notion.” He has also categorized any push for education curriculums to include more comprehensive teaching on systemic racism, “activist indoctrination.” McConnell’s intellectually dishonest angle on the 1619 date is that by calling attention to our country’s founding dependence on cheap labor and the evolution of our nation’s racism, we “denigrate and downgrade” other, more positive and less uncomfortable, achievements that our country has made.
It’s a garbage argument as pointing out our country’s systemic racism, and very specifically highlighting 1619 as a date, is clearly an important part of our nation’s story. Millions of Americans of all races, cultures, and creeds have been directly affected, and continue to be affected, by those decisions. The Civil War that McConnell says put this sin “behind us,” is only fought because of that date, and to deny it and the existence of its reach is incongruous with even the words coming out of the Kentucky senator’s disingenuous yap.
McConnell’s attempt at speaking out of both sides of his mouth included this statement: “I think trying to completely denigrate and downgrade American historical moments like 1776, 1787, 1965—critical moments—is a mistake.” If you want to know what truly denigrates and downgrades our country’s history, and specifically what those dates mark, all you need to see are McConnell’s own actions in orchestrating a filibuster of a commission into the events of Jan. 6—something that had the bipartisan support of his own constituents. As for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Republican Party is in the middle of generating hundreds of voter suppression laws throughout the country.
Here’s McConnell telling people that systemic racism and our country’s use of slavery and racism as a controlling economic foundation is “exotic.”