The @NYTimes’s 1619 Project wants you to believe our country was founded for human bondage. What a dark vision of America’s birth. What a disturbed reading of history. What a slander on our great people. pic.twitter.com/s24rA3C3m8— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) July 16, 2020
I think that there is certainly substance in the idea that the US was founded on the concept of certain unalienable rights, but if we're going to maintain that it's the government's job to protect those rights, it's actually awfully hard to square the ideas of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" with the privations of bondage slavery, which is the actual point of the 1619 Project. The revolution that liberated the colonies didn't liberate enslaved people. The ideals the nation was based on weren't extended to everyone. And Pompeo considers some human rights more worthy of defense than others.
Like private property rights, which is kind of problematic. And religious freedom. It's not funny that those two are particularly favored, or that certain others he considers to be "diluting" those primary rights are not by him specifically enumerated. I think if the United States is capable of noting that human trafficking is a terrible crime in the present moment, and at odds with out highest ideals, then it should be no great hurdle to acknowledge that human beings were sold here and owned here and it was at odds with our highest ideals, and we as a nation didn't live up to them for a good long while, nor have we fully dealt with what proves to be an ongoing struggle for the law to do what it should: protect everyone's unalienable rights.
Where is the slander? Slavery was a fact of life in the early days of this country. It was such a part of our economic beginnings that every schoolchild has been shown, matter-of-factly, a chart showing the "triangular trade" to this hemisphere which included human bodies as a negotiable good. In housing, in income, in benefits, in criminal and social justice, there are still racial disparities that serve as a legacy of this factual history. Not wanting these things to be true isn't erased by denying that history, but by working to fix it in the here and now.
And when he says "our great people", what does he mean by "our"? Who does that include--or exclude?
Pompeo has spoken volumes, but he has, I'm afraid, spoken more to his own ignorance, than to any other purpose.