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Nikole Hannah-Jones of the 1619 Project called it the "founding of America" but is now arguing she didn't mean it that way
Now that US President Donald Trump has declared the 1619 Project 'toxic,' its lead author tried to accuse "the right" of making up her main point. One writer who had defended her all along refused to accept the gaslighting.

"One thing in which the right has been tremendously successful is getting media to frame stories in their language and through their lens," Nikole Hannah-Jones tweeted on Friday, adding that the 1619 Project "does not argue that 1619 is our true founding."

Conor Friedersdorf of the Atlantic called her claim "staggering," given what he himself had written about Hannah-Jones's Pulitzer Prize-winning work.


"Am I going crazy?" Friedersdorf wonders, digging through old tweets and essays to see if he'd been mistaken about her central claim all along. Turns out he wasn't. Hannah-Jones used the exact phrase to call conservative pundit Ben Shapiro a liar, for example.


The New York Times Magazine said unambiguously that the 1619 Project - referring to the year first African slaves arrived in Jamestown colony - was the "true founding" of America. This was repeated by numerous publications, including such outlets as The Nation and Daily Kos - no one's idea of "the right" - "because that is what the NYT Magazine published," Friedersdorf noted.

It's not just the magazine copy, either. Hannah-Jones herself tweeted in August 2019: "I argue that 1619 is our true founding." Friedersdorf has a screenshot.


"How do you call other people liars who repeat an easily falsifiable claim when you have characterized the matter this way?" he asks.

"People like me, who argued in good faith with the ideas that the New York Times Magazine and [Nikole Hannah-Jones] put forth, do not deserve to be tarred as dupes or liars or sloppy for accurately characterizing their original presentation, now that they are walking it back," Friedersdorf concludes.

In a speech on Thursday, Trump brought up the 1619 Project alongside socialist scholar Howard Zinn's 'People's History of the United States' and critical race theory as "toxic propaganda" and "an ideological poison" that would destroy the "civic bonds" that tie America together. To counter these influences, he announced a national '1776 Commission' that will be tasked with developing an outline of "patriotic education."

Hannah-Jones has spent much of Friday arguing that what she wrote didn't really mean what it said, and that she really meant to invite the readers "to contemplate what it would *mean* to consider 1619 and the beginning of American slavery as our founding, as it argues that 1619 is as foundational to the American story as 1776."