Grade: F (for Fascism) – 1776 Commission Report PDF – Fully Marked
This report seeks to “summariz[e] the principles of the American founding and how those principles have shaped our country” by “truthfully recounting the aspirations and actions of the men and women who sought to build America as a shining ‘city upon a hill’” (1). This report is dangerously partisan, filled with errors and erroneous assertions, and irreputable having cited and been written by zero historians of American history.
This report claims to be writing a history of American principles “that is ‘accurate, honest, unifying, inspiring, and ennobling’.” (1) Firstly, this quote is from the prompt as written in the Executive Order that commissioned the report and is asserted as a praising comment of what is to come. Secondly, the goal of history should not be to write it as “ennobling”. History is a field of interpretations of facts, causes, and effects; history should not be written for the sole purpose of political propaganda. Furthermore, the assertion that “the facts of our founding are not partisan. They are a matter of history” presents a fundamental misunderstanding of history and the work conducted within the field (1). History is, by nature, a biased academic pursuit, as objectivity cannot be obtained in a field of interpretive studies. The action of selecting which facts are worthy of note is a biased endeavour, one which is undertaken wilfully in this report. Facts such as “the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4 the , 1776” are not partisan; however, the decision to present that fact alone is partisan when addendums could alter the understanding and interpretations of that fact. For instance, the statement “the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4 th , 1776 by slaveholders” is also a fact, but one that has taken on additional meaning. Claiming facts are not partisan at the outset of a partisan report is a detriment to the validity of the candidates’ claims.
Additionally, the report contradicts itself in many areas, particularly in Section IV. Challenges to America’s Principles. The report claims facts are not-partisan; however, it also perpetuates partisan claims, asserting that it is untrue to label the founders as hypocritical for enslaving humans while founding a government ruled by the consent of the governed. The report extols the virtues of a government by consent multiple times, then justifies slavery as a product of its time (see comments, pages 11-12). Further, this report purposefully omits the history of the Reconstruction period and subsequent Jim Crow Laws – that kept formerly enslaved peoples and people of colour subjugated in the United States – as separate from the conversation around slavery (see comments, page 12). The candidates cover Progressivism, Fascism, and Communism in between Slavery and Racism as though to separate one from the other as distinctive periods, evading the fact that the latter is the direct consequence of the former. This structure is manipulative and misleading.
This report is dangerous and uses many gross generalizations to assert partisan claims. For instance, on page 13 under the subheading “Fascism”, the candidates remark that Fascism and Communism are “ideological cousins”. This assertion is blatantly incorrect and conflates communist principles with totalitarian regimes which abused those principles. Further, this report marks academics and intellectuals as likely anti-American and communist in a section detailing the violent threat of communism to America (14). This claim is hazardous to the education the report is allegedly encouraging.
The candidates assert dangerous partisan claims about social justice. In discussing racism (pages 15-16), the report decries that affirmative action initiatives with the aim of creating equity for historically marginalized and disenfranchised groups has created identity politics and “protected classes” of citizens that operate antithetically to American principles. This assertion is dangerous and incorrect. The only racial group that receives “explicit group privilege” in the United States is that of white people. To build an argument that initiatives to create equity, to right wrongs of the past, has somehow given an unfair advantage to people of colour and other demographics is irresponsible, unsubstantiated, and abhorrent.
Patriotism and patriotic education are the goals of this commission. On these subjects, the report fails miserably to convey the importance of individual engagement with an accurate history of one’s nation (16). One can extol virtues while also acknowledging sins; patriotism is not zero sum. Those who seek to take an honest look at American history and still conclude to love their country are more patriotic than those who lead with blind-faith. As such, this report contains “one-sided partisan opinions, activist propaganda, [and] factional ideologies that demean America’s heritage, dishonour our heroes, [and] deny our principles” (17). States and school districts should reject it.
This report relies heavily on citations from Abraham Lincoln and references irrelevant figures (see comment on Winston Churchill, page 6; comment on unnecessary Bible reference, page 7; comment on misuse of statues as a legitimate source base, page 11; etc.). To write a more thoroughly researched report and substantiate the arguments therein, the candidates should consider expanding references to include relevant material, historians, and peer-reviewed sources and utilising proper citations to legitimize the report. At the moment, much of this document reads as conjecture with many claims asserted and few supported. A fundamental misunderstanding of how to write a professional historical report is evident with overt partiality, unprofessional word choice, and inappropriate flattery throughout (see comments on “those framers’ wisdom and skill”, page 7).
Throughout the report, floating quotes and pictures are placed sporadically. The quotes and pictures are related to the topic, but few are in dialogue or relevant to the text around them. Addressing these concerns will help the reader follow the report better, as for instance, the portrait of Frederick Douglass on page 7 is not explained or identified until five pages later. This is a result of poor attention to detail and formatting. Further, none of the floating quotes include Democrats, with the only two from the latter 20 the century being Martin Luther King Jr. and Ronald Reagan. This omission of other voices reads as deliberate.
This report endeavours to use “republican” frequently in reference to the American Republic; however, the over-use of the term borders on inappropriate complimentary partisanship. The use of “republican” seems deliberate to mislead an unsuspecting reader that “republican” and “Republican” are one in the same. It is the opinion of this American historian that the 1776 Commission’s Report on American Principles is a thinly veiled manifesto written with a partisan goal of legitimizing a fascist party-line stance on White House letterhead. This document is dangerous, irresponsible, irreputable, contradictory, misleading, and