Biden signs executive orders dismanting the 1776 Commission and report
President Joe Biden pauses as he signs his first executive orders in the Oval Office of the White House on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The 1776 Report commissioned by the Trump administration was rejected by historians as propaganda. In one of his first acts as president, Biden officially revoked it.

Within hours of being sworn into the nation’s highest public office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order dismantling one of the Trump administration’s final acts: the conservative propaganda known as the 1776 Report.

The 1776 Report, developed by the 18-person 1776 Commission, was established by Trump to deliver a “patriotic education” in schools across the nation. Not only will Biden’s order seek to “ equity across federal policymaking and [root] out systemic racism and other barriers to opportunity from federal programs and institutions,” it will also dissolve the commission.

The decision was necessary to staunch the previous administration’s misinformation stream and undo some of the damage done. James E. Ford, executive director of the Center for Racial Equity in Education (CREED), told the COURIER. He excoriated the commission’s dangerous version of history. “It is an entirely predictable and pitiful attempt to revise history in a way that rescues the United States from any meaningful critique or introspection,” Ford told COURIER. “The 1776 Commission report is an ahistorical and unscholarly retelling of history that pushes the experiences of Black, brown, and Indigenous people to the margins and contributes to widespread racial ignorance in education.” 

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The 1776 Report was a response to the New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project, a near-comprehensive look at American history from the first arrival of enslaved Africans through Black Americans’ current global cultural impact conceived by journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. 

In the report, released on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the commission slammed progressive mores and affirmative action, decried racial and ethnic identities, and called hard-won policies fought for during the Civil Rights era the “opposite of King’s hope.” 

Conservative activists and politicians, but no historians, made up the commission. Members of the now disassembled commission include chairman Larry Arnn, the president of Hillsdale College, and vice-chair Carol Swain. In 2013, Arnn said that state officials came to his college to see whether enough “dark ones” were enrolled there, and Swain infamously wrote in a 2015 op-ed that Islam “poses an absolute danger to us and our children.” Other members of the commission have expressed similarly problematic sentiments. 

In September, Trump convened the group during the final throes of his presidential campaign, following a summer of civil rights protests the former president falsely characterized as “left-wing rioting and mayhem.” Trump positioned the commission as a defense against “the direct result of decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools.”

The report insists that the country’s founding fathers, though holding thousands of people in captivity, hated slavery and portrays modern American institutions as infiltrated by radical leftists eager to rip apart national unity by pointing out historical facts.  

Activists and historians roundly condemned it. 

“The White House 1776 report seems to regard calling the Founders hypocritical about slavery as worse for the country than actual slavery,” Seth Masket, a political science professor at the University of Denver, shared on Twitter.

President Biden was explicit about not only the need for unity but for honesty in his inaugural speech Wednesday. 

“Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonization have long torn us apart,” he said. “Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson. There is truth, and there are lies—lies told for power and for profit. And each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders—leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation, to defend the truth and defeat the lies.”

In addition to dissolving this commission, Biden will also revoke a Trump order banning government agencies from conducting racial sensitivity training

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