BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Senate on Wednesday approved a resolution that characterizes The New York Times’ “1619 Project” as a divisive re-education campaign on shameful slavery while promoting the report of the Former President Donald Trump’s 1776 commission aimed at “patriotic education” in schools.
The Senate on a voice vote passed the resolution which expresses the wishes of the chamber but does not have the force of law.
Trump created the commission in September 2020 to rally support among white voters ahead of the November general election. Historians have dismissed his report as political propaganda. President Joe Biden, in an executive order shortly after taking office, dissolved the commission and withdrew the document.
“We all know that critical race theory and the destruction of statues and different things have happened in other states,” Republican Senator Steven Thayn, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said during the debate. in the Senate. “We don’t want that to happen here.”
Critical race theory, such as the “1619 Project”, is viewed negatively in the Senate resolution. Critical race theory is a way of thinking about American history through the prism of racism. The “1619 Project” includes in its title the first year a slave ship arrived in the American colonies.
The purpose of the resolution is “to publicize an alternative history curriculum that should be evaluated by school districts in Idaho.”
The resolution specifically proposes the report of the 1776 Commission as such a program. The commission’s report omits much of the history of slavery in the United States and states that “the slavery abolition movement that began in the United States paved the way for the end of the ‘legal slavery’.
The document also repeats some right-wing talking points, including on higher education. “Colleges peddle resentment and contempt for American principles and history, thereby weakening the commitment to our common heritage,” the document states.
Overall, the commission glorifies the country’s founders, downplays America’s role in slavery, condemns the rise of progressive politics, and argues that the civil rights movement ran counter to “lofty ideals.” adopted by the founding fathers.
Historians have widely criticized the report, saying it offers a false and outdated version of American history that ignores decades of research.
Democratic Senator David Nelson opposed the legislation, saying he believed it advocated “censorship of what our students are learning, and I cannot support that”.
Republican Senator Jim Rice supported the measure.
“I don’t think we have particular teachers in Idaho who can teach some of these very specific and divisive things,” he said. “But what we do know is that it’s now part of the discussions across our country.”
He said some parts of the country taught that “people are guilty because they are of the same race as someone who has done something else in the past.”
“It’s an exceptionally dangerous ideology,” Rice said.
Democratic Senator Melissa Wintrow read a passage from the “1619 Project” urging lawmakers to vote against the resolution.
She said the resolution identified the ‘1619 Project’ and critical race theory as being used to teach ‘people to be ashamed or limited by their race or ethnicity, and that’s just not true”.
The Idaho Senate has no black lawmakers after Cherie Buckner-Webb retired in 2020.
The resolution now goes to the House. A concurrent resolution can be approved by both houses but does not go to the governor.
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