Biden dissolves Trump's 1776 Commission aimed at creating ‘patriotic education’

Unsplash/Jeffrey Hamilton
Unsplash/Jeffrey Hamilton

President Joe Biden signed an executive order Wednesday that, among other things, dissolves a commission created under the Trump administration to advance a “patriotic education” for American students.

On his first day in office, Biden signed an executive order titled, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.

“Equal opportunity is the bedrock of American democracy, and our diversity is one of our country’s greatest strengths. But for too many, the American Dream remains out of reach,” read the executive order, in part.

“It is therefore the policy of my Administration that the Federal Government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.”

The order calls for the creation of a domestic policy council to advance equity, as well as calling on the Office of Management and Budget to study ways to address inequality.

“The study should aim to identify the best methods, consistent with applicable law, to assist agencies in assessing equity with respect to race, ethnicity, religion, income, geography, gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability,” continued the order.

President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks at the White House Conference on American History Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C.
President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks at the White House Conference on American History Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. | White House/Joyce N. Boghosian

Section 10 of the order specifically revokes Executive Order 13958, which was signed by former President Donald Trump in November and created the 1776 Commission.

In a speech in September, Trump called for a commission to create a “patriotic education” for public schools in response to far-left trends in academia and mainstream culture.

“We are here today to declare that we will never submit to tyranny. We will reclaim our history, and our country, for citizens of every race, color, religion and creed,” Trump said at the time.

One area of particular concern was The New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project, which was a series of essays analyzing the long-term influence of racial slavery on the United States. It claims that the Revolution was fought over slavery and the institution of slavery was so embedded in the nation's DNA that the true founding was in 1619. 

On Monday, the Commission released a report which, among other things, denounced what it called “distorted histories” created by progressive intellectuals since the 1960s.

“This new education replaced humane and liberal education in many places, and alienated Americans from their own nature, their own identities, and their own place and time,” read the report.

“It cuts students off from understanding that which came before them. Like square pegs and round holes, students are made to fit the latest expert theory about where history is headed next.”

The Commission issued recommendations for creating an “authentic education,” including teaching Americans that they are all equal, encouraging the cultivation of “the love of country,” and relying “almost exclusively on primary sources.”

“While this country has its imperfections, just like any other country, in the annals of history the United States has achieved the greatest degree of personal freedom, security, and prosperity for the greatest proportion of its own people and for others around the world,” added the report.

“An authentic civics education will help rebuild our common bonds, our mutual friendship, and our civic devotion. But we cannot love what we do not know. This is why civics education, education relating to the citizen, must begin with knowledge, which is, as George Washington reminds us, ‘the surest basis of public happiness.’”

The Commission’s report was denounced by the American Historical Association, a prominent organization of professional historians that was founded in the 19th century.

“The report actually consists of two main themes. One is an homage to the Founding Fathers, a simplistic interpretation that relies on falsehoods, inaccuracies, omissions, and misleading statements,” stated the AHA.

“The other is a screed against a half-century of historical scholarship, presented largely as a series of caricatures, using single examples (most notably the ‘1619 Project’) to represent broader historiographical trends.”

Other groups that signed on to the AHA included the American Anthropological Association, the American Catholic Historical Association, the American Society of Church History, the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender History, the Middle East Studies Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the Southern Historical Association.

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