MSNBC’s ReidOut host Joy Reid joined the chorus of defenders on Thursday of the racist, America-hating 1619 Project and creator Nikole Hannah-Jones in light of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's decision to deny her immediate tenure as part of a professorship.
Reid blasted the move as an “authoritarian” and “chill[ing]” act of “war” and “cancel culture” against a (factually-challenged) series of essays that teach “a clear-eyed, factual understanding of our history.”
Instead of realizing this was a case of liberals getting a taste of their own medicine, Reid and frequent MSNBC guest Jelani Cobb melted down at this as proof of a conservative tilt in academia that resulted in “unjustified outrage” against a “phenomenal” work of “journalism” and “scholarship” (which would be breaking news to our friends at Campus Reform, Lone Conservative, and YAF).
Of course, the 1619 Project has faced years of bipartisan backlash from academics ranging from socialists to historian Gordon Wood to The Federalist to a renowned history professor who’s spoken at the Heritage Foundation. Most notably, her thesis that America was founded on the basis of and preserving slavery has been widely debunked.
And in March 2020, The Times had to post an extensive correction after concerns from a professor working to fact-check Hannah-Jones were ignored. As The Federalist reported, it was then stealth-edited six months later.
Reid was indignant, first teasing early in the show that there was a “conservative effort to literally whitewash American history, and how it cost one of the nation's most celebrated journalists a tenured university position.”
That ignored the fact that it’s Hannah-Jones who’s decided to do the whitewashing, but we digress. She’s even falsely pegged 1619 as when slavery started in the New World, but we’ll move on.
Reid labeled these critics her “Absolute Worst,” claiming there’s a “Republican obsession with falsifying our nation's history” that includes opposing critical race theory. She then suggested before a mash-up of elected Republicans that the right lacks brain cells to properly understand history, “Antifa, or democracy.”
Without evidence, Reid said “none of” the claims about critical race theory teaching children to hate America, each other, and themselves were “true,” and added the right doesn’t care because they’ve waged “war against a clear-eyed, factual understanding of our history” and press freedoms as evidenced by UNC’s decision on Hannah-Jones.
She continued to rail against this supposed crime against humanity (click “expand,” emphasis mine):
Hannah-Jones is a MacArthur genius and Pulitzer Prize winner. She is the creator of the 1619 Project, a New York Times Magazine project that situates slavery and race at the center of this nation's history and narrative where, frankly, it has always belonged. It's a project that conservatives despise, calling it propaganda because it dares to address slavery and asks you to not look away and because this red-hot vitriol for her and her work, Hannah-Jones was denied a tenured position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after the university's board of trustees failed to approve the journalism department's recommendation, offering a five-year teaching contract instead. Now, tenure is a big deal. Not only a celebrated accomplishment but a mechanism that protects scholars from being fired without cause. It's intrinsically tied to academic freedom, allowing professors to research or teach any topic, even controversial ones that Fox News might decide to whine about without getting fired and now it's been ripped way from one of the most important journalists of our time and that is why Republican legislators, who are obsessed with erasing our history and taking down anyone who gets in their way, are the absolute worst. And up next, Jelani Cobb of Columbia Journalism School shares thoughts on this tom foolery and the greater assault on press and academic freedoms that it represents.
Reid opened the second of two segments on Hannah-Jones by gushing that, “for some, including myself,” the 1619 Project is “a phenomenal piece of journalism challenging us to reframe U.S. history” while, “for others,” it’s seen as an “ideological poison, threatening to turn impressionable children against America” and roped in the UNC Board of Trustees.
Continuing to batter this strawman without engaging on the merits, Reid mocked the right’s critiques by saying it’s “apparently the most dangerous piece of journalism that's been created in America because now it makes the creator unfit for tenure.”
Cobb agreed, denouncing “the kind of hyperventilation that's happened and kind of unjustified outrage” and boasting about his position as a tenured professor and someone who’s sat on tenure boards, before arguing that Hannah-Jones’s “dizzying array of accolades” made her credibility indisputable.
Yes, a Pulitzer Prize and awards from liberal elites mean academia....doesn’t want her?
Reid and Cobb next called the refusal to give tenure to Hannah-Jones “absurd” and “ridiculous,” proof that “conservatives are offended” (when it’s actually because she’s a liar), and establishes a precedent where “you cannot produce” work “that takes a critical eye or critical view to this nation's tortured and ugly racial past” (click “expand”)
REID: Well, and I mean, the thing is, the idea that somebody with a MacArthur Genius Award and a Pulitzer wouldn’t get tenure is, on its face, is ridiculous. It's absurd. You say — you say it out loud and it doesn't even sound like it could possibly be real. But to add to it that the reason she wouldn't get tenure is because some conservatives are offended about the way she's doing journalism and history because she won't do the sing song, rose colored glasses, America is perfect, in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue B.S. that has been taught — I mean, I don't know what that says about this country and academia. What does it say?
COBB: Well, I will tell you what it says. You know, it says that you cannot produce scholarship and you cannot journalism that takes a critical eye or critical view to this nation's tortured and ugly racial past. And the consequences, the present day consequences of what race and racism have done, the centrality of racism in American society and the real impact of this, you know, professor Hannah-Jones is a well-laureled and established journalist, the real consequences of this is are for untenured, junior scholars, younger people coming along who are doing work that may be controversial, that may put them in the eye of some disconsolate state senator somewhere and then become — make them vulnerable to having a similar kind of dynamic happen when they go up for tenure. So, this is a real crossroads between academic freedom and freedom of the press and it's something they might overlook as a single person, as a single person’s career options. No, this is a bigger concern about the freedom of lots of other people to produce work that may be controversial.
Talk about a sense of apocalyptic doom.
And again, they showed a purposeful omission of concrete concerns about the accuracy of the 1619 Project, ranging from inconvenient truths about slavery, to ignoring how the Founding documents enshrined natural rights for human beings as children of God, to skipping over how the Founders abhorred slavery, to its smearing of Abraham Lincoln, to how two New England states had already taken steps by the 1790s to move America toward a more perfect union.
The list of problems could go on and on, but doing so at NewsBusters would only serve to expand our word count and further embarrass two MSNBC racial arsonists.
Reid went onto say UNC’s decision was “totalitarian” and would have a “chill[ing]” effect on “academic freedom” and “young journalists” looking to report the truth.
Lost in the wilderness, Reid concluded by asking Cobb about what needed to be done to fight back against this act of “cancel culture” (click “expand”):
REID: I guess sort of the final question is, what do we do about this? Because you have seen the right whine about cancel culture, right? And now, what they are doing is attempting to cancel anyone who will not stick to their — their prescribed versions of racial history in America. And what do we do about it?
COBB: I mean, I think one of the most important things is that people have to push back. There's a faculty petition that went out from the faculty at the UNC School of journalism. And, you know, many people who are in the chain of governance at the institution have raised their voices. I think that there has to be vociferous opposition to this from multiple quarters, so people know that this — they may have bitten off more than they could chew.
COBB: There are protests that are going on at the University now. We have to fight at this —
COBB: — at level to make sure that it doesn't metastasize.
REID: Absolutely. This is not just about Nikole Hannah-Jones. This is about the truth and we’re going to fight for it every single day.
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