Newt Gingrich Upset the New York Times Project on Slavery Does Not Praise White People for Ending It

Newt Gingrich Upset the New York Times Project on Slavery Does Not Praise White People for Ending It

This past weekend, The New York Times published “The 1619 Project,” a deeply researched series of essays about slavery in America and its place as a foundational element of the nation’s history. (“1619” refers to the year the first enslaved Africans were brought to Jamestown.)

Naturally, people who would rather not be reminded of how slavery’s echoes still reverberate throughout American society 400 years later are scrambling to find something in this project to upset them.

Enter Newt Gingrich. The former Speaker of the House appeared on Fox & Friends on Monday morning to register his complaint that the series gives short shrift to the sacrifices made by white people to end slavery.

First, Fox & Friends guest host Griff Jenkins read part of the Times’ description of the project as aiming to “reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.”

Gingrich’s response was that “the whole project is a lie.” He went on:

“I think slavery a terrible thing. I think putting slavery in context is important…But, for most Americans, most of the time, there were a lot of other things going on. There were several hundred thousand white Americans who died in the Civil War in order to free the slaves.”

Again, the project explores slavery’s centrality to America’s founding in toto, not the white people who died to end it 250 years and untold amounts of suffering after it began. If Gingrich wants that story, there’s a Ken Burns documentary he can watch.

Oddly (or not!), Gingrich does not want monuments built to honor the hundreds of thousands of people who died in defense of slavery to be taken down. It’s almost as if he does not want America to reckon with its slave-owning past at all. Which is an odd stance for a purported historian.

Before bashing the 1619 Project, Gingrich also accused the media of openly cheerleading for the economy to go into a recession in order to hurt Donald Trump. If Gingrich knew anything about the already-precarious state of the journalism industry during a relatively good economic time, he might realize how absurd that sounds.

Watch the video above, via Fox News.

Gary Legum

Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.