President Joe Biden said Tuesday he is abolishing the Trump administration’s 1776 Commission, which, he stated, is “offensive” and “counterfactual.”
During his remarks on his racial equity agenda, Biden said:
Look, in the weeks ahead. I’ll be reaffirming the federal government’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and accessibility, building on the work we started in the Obama-Biden administration. That’s why I’m rescinding the previous administration’s harmful ban on diversity and sensitivity training and abolish the offensive counterfactual 1776 commission. Unity and healing must begin with understanding and truth, not ignorance, and lies.
In its section on the Constitution, the 1776 Commission’s report states:
The bedrock upon which the American political system is built is the rule of law. The vast difference between tyranny and the rule of law is a central theme of political thinkers back to classical antiquity. The idea that the law is superior to rulers is the cornerstone of English constitutional thought as it developed over the centuries. The concept was transferred to the American colonies, and can be seen expressed throughout colonial pamphlets and political writings.
Regarding the Declaration of Independence, the report observes:
The core assertion of the Declaration, and the basis of the founders’ political thought, is that “all men are created equal.” From the principle of equality, the requirement for consent naturally follows: if all men are equal, then none may by right rule another without his consent.
The assertion that “all men are created equal” must also be properly understood. It does not mean that all human beings are equal in wisdom, courage, or any of the other virtues and talents that God and nature distribute unevenly among the human race. It means rather that human beings are equal in the sense that they are not by nature divided into castes, with natural rulers and ruled.
The 1776 Commission was led by Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn and its vice president for its Washington, DC, operations, Dr. Matthew Spalding.
Spalding, who served as the commission’s executive director, told Sirius XM’s Breitbart News Daily the commission’s report defends 1776 as “the true founding” of America.
He noted as well that the use of “identity politics” today may be added to “slavery or progressivism or fascism or communism abroad” as threats to the founding principles.
The commission was, in part, considered to be a response to the New York Times 1619 Project, which claims America’s true founding date is 1619, the year African slaves were first brought to the colonies.
“But more broadly,” Spalding said, “Howard Zinn and other revisionist histories for some time have been arguing that America really is not a playing out, if you will, of principles set down in the Declaration,” in terms of the statement that “all men are created equal.”
“But [that] it actually is defined by the existence of slavery, and, thus, it is systemic from the very beginning,” he continued. “And we reject that claim outright indeed.”
Spalding said that, despite the fact that America has had its flaws, such as the existence of slavery at one time, “America’s history has always been a relationship between those principles and a nation trying, aspiring to uphold those principles.”
“The abolitionist movement began in America,” he noted.
“It began in America in light of the principles of the Declaration,” he added. “That’s what Lincoln turned back to. That’s what Martin Luther King later turned back to very prominently in his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.”
The 1776 Commission’s report states about slavery and the current charge that America was founded upon that institution and, therefore, is inherently racist:
The most common charge levelled against the founders, and hence against our country itself, is that they were hypocrites who didn’t believe in their stated principles, and therefore the country they built rests on a lie. This charge is untrue, and has done enormous damage, especially in recent years, with a devastating effect on our civic unity and social fabric.
Many Americans labor under the illusion that slavery was somehow a uniquely American evil. It is essential to insist at the outset that the institution be seen in a much broader perspective. It is very hard for people brought up in the comforts of modern America, in a time in which the idea that all human beings have inviolable rights and inherent dignity is almost taken for granted, to imagine the cruelties and enormities that were endemic in earlier times. But the unfortunate fact is that the institution of slavery has been more the rule than the exception throughout human history.
Spalding said “what makes America exceptional” is the fact that it began its first day with “a claim of truth, that all men are equal.”
The Hillsdale College dean observed all “justice” movements have referred back to the principles and claims found in the Declaration of Independence. He said:
That’s where abolition comes from; that’s where women’s suffrage comes from, the civil rights movement … the pro-life movement, the anti-communist movement. They all move back to a claim of justice, which we find in the Declaration of Independence. To move away from that is to … find your principles elsewhere. And that’s what we’re worried about.
Biden also referred to former President Donald Trump’s order to eliminate critical race theory training in the federal government as a “harmful ban.”
The days of taxpayer funded indoctrination trainings that sow division and racism are over. Under the direction of @POTUS we are directing agencies to halt critical race theory trainings immediately.https://t.co/dyMeJka9rt
— Russ Vought (@RussVought45) September 4, 2020
In September, Trump directed the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to identify all contract spending pertaining to “critical race theory,” “white privilege,” and other “training or propaganda effort” that:
… teaches or suggests either (1) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or (2) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil. In addition, all agencies should begin to identify all available avenues within the law to cancel any such contracts and/or to divert Federal dollars away from these un-American propaganda training sessions.
“The days of taxpayer funded indoctrination trainings that sow division and racism are over,” said Russ Vought, Trump OMB director. “Under the direction of [President Trump], we are directing agencies to halt critical race theory trainings immediately.”