Somewhere along the line, Black Lives Matter and the 1619 Project both edited their websites to remove controversially radical statements about their beliefs. This should be recognized as merely a public relations concession, not an ideological one. Both BLM and 1619 will continue to be propelled by fringe leftists and their hapless corporate sponsors.
In BLM’s case, the editing had to be fairly recent. Critics have rightfully spent the summer pointing to a section of the group’s website that calls for the disruption of the nuclear family.
Under “What We Believe,” BLM used to say, “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.” That language has been scrubbed, as the Washington Examiner reported on Monday.
The group’s philosophy on family structure is not without consequence. Just last week, Tucker Carlson reported that a Buffalo school district, relying on lesson plans crafted by a council of the city’s public school system, approvingly taught fourth and fifth graders to understand “the disruption of Western nuclear family dynamics and a return to the ‘collective village’ that takes care of each other” as a “guiding principle” of BLM.
The New York Times’ 1619 Project, at its inception, was openly an effort to “reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding.” That was its central assertion. It is now gone from the project’s website.
The project’s Pulitzer-winning architect Nikole Hannah-Jones continues to beclown herself, this time by claiming the project “does not argue that 1776 was not the founding of the country” when a graphic that literally crossed out “July 4, 1776” and replaced it with “August 20, 1619” was the banner photo on her Twitter profile when the essay collection launched and the website explicitly said it was an effort to “reframe the country’s history” to “[understand] 1619 as our true founding.” It’s a sad joke made even sadder by the fact that the project has been integrated into curriculum in the school districts of three major cities.
The Times made a substantial correction to 1619 after it won a Pulitzer. Still, myriad problems with its substance remain—problems that trouble respected historians from everywhere on the political spectrum. The BLM website, of course, still includes a call to “defund the police.” It still links to a document commemorating the group’s fourth anniversary in which its organizing director lists “capitalist values” as an obstacle to equality.
It’s true, Black Lives Matter is a movement much bigger than the formal organization by the same name. It’s also true that its leaders are leaders in the broader movement, although they may lack the name recognition of celebrities like Lebron James.
Meghan Markle is reportedly pitching a documentary on BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors to Netflix. Cullors memorably described herself and her co-founders as “trained Marxists” back in 2015. She trained under the mentorship of a former Weather Underground member. Recall that the Weather Underground was a domestic terrorism group that bombed public buildings and banks.
So what? Why does it matter that BLM is run by radicals who peddle fringe leftism? Why does it matter that 1619 is shoddy journalism with a radical agenda? Will the leftists behind either project actually be able to advance their ideological agendas in meaningful ways?
The corporatists bankrolling BLM likely don’t believe the group will do anything to substantively advance anti-capitalism. If they marinate in corporate media coverage, they probably don’t even know about the group’s radical roots. If they do they might not believe it.
Both groups seem to have determined their jabs at the nuclear family and 1776 are best kept off their websites. This makes it easier for corporatists and journalists to continue legitimizing them with money and positive coverage. It does not, however, mean their ideological priorities are any different.
Those ideological priorities are absolutely shifting our culture further leftward. The evidence isn’t as immediately visible as successful legislation or campaigns. (Although those exist and soon there will be enough of them to seriously affect our free enterprise system.)
But the lesson of the past summer of firings and vandalism and iconoclasm is that progressivism—powered by its good-or-evil binary—is a powerful force that is uprooting our culture, uprooting lives, and wreaking havoc. By insisting people are either progressives or bigots, the cultural left exported enough college graduates into the workforce and radicalized enough elites in boardrooms and newsrooms to weaken the bulwark of sanity too many of us didn’t realize was under attack at all.
You may not know the name of BLM’s leaders. The 1619 curriculum may never make its way into your local school district. But they’re reaching a lot of people. They’re shifting the Overton Window. They’re influencing the Democratic Party (and even the Republican Party). They’re influencing elites. They’re influencing education. They’re influencing social media. They may not be Lebron James or Howard Zinn, but you don’t have to be to change culture. We should know that by now.
They understand this, and that’s exactly why they edited their websites.