Tarris Woods’ guest column advocating passage of the For the People Act deeply troubled me and professionally offended me, with the distorted 1619 Project rendition of U.S. history he put forward (“Congress must pass the For the People Act quickly,” The Daily News, Aug. 24).

The famed German historiographer Leopold von Ranke set the standard for professional history writing: Use source material — don’t make things up. The 1619 Project’s version of U.S. history seemingly referenced by Woods fails this test.

It’s Marxist propaganda, not history. As a professionally trained historian and former civics teacher, I will detail several errors in the column.

Race slavery wasn’t new to humanity in Virginia in 1619. Slavery was an institution in human affairs since the beginning of recorded history.

The Bible tells us that the ancient Hebrews were bondsmen in Egypt and held bondsmen of their own in the Holy Land. The ancestors of many whites were serfs in Europe.

Evil Virginians didn’t invent race, ethnic or linguistic slavery in 1619. Race slavery isn’t the foundation of the United States.

Cotton culture in the South wasn’t the foundation of capitalism in the United States. It didn’t develop until the early 19th century in parts of the Deep South. In the North, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest, a type of market capitalism based on manufacturing, trade and farming was the norm during the Era of King Cotton in the Deep South.

Northern manufacturing after the Civil War was the foundation of modern capitalism, not cotton cultivation.

The argument that Southern oligarchs formed a fascist nation within a nation after the Civil War is merely hyperbole. The existence of Jim Crow laws rested on the acquiesce of the poor white population on whose votes the wealthy depended. Fascism is a combination of government and big business, not racial segregation.

The pending voting legislation in Texas isn’t Jim Crow 2.0 as Woods posits. The state legislature has configured early voting under the legislation to preserve the role of Black churches in early voting on Sunday.

Allowing specifically crafted legislation to promote voting by a specific racial group would seem to be racist. Is this the Jim Crow 2.0 Woods and other Democrats rail against? Or are they simply unconvinced they can continue to win elections without block voting based on skin color and church attendance?

Article 1, Section 4 of the Constitution reserves voting regulations for each state, not the federal government. The proposed federal legislation to nationalize elections is a power grab by the Democratic Party, not based on facts.

Words matter; facts matter. Carelessly advocating a false narrative about the founding of the nation denigrates the efforts such as the Civil War, and voting and civil rights acts to make the words of the Declaration of Independence real — all men (people) are created equal.

The reality that more people of color than white people voted in the South in 2020 refutes claims of voter suppression.

Joseph A. Pelto lives in Texas City.

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(14) comments

Bailey Jones

Tripe.

Carlos Ponce

Not Tripe, Bailey. It's an opinion.

Carlos Ponce

And Joseph Pelto's opinion has a lot of facts in it. If you discover any fabrication in his column, please point them out.... a worthy discussion.

Ron Smith

Point out the Tripe. Line for Line. Come on argue your point.

Bailey Jones

Sure, Ron....

"Race slavery wasn’t new to humanity in Virginia in 1619. Slavery was an institution in human affairs since the beginning of recorded history." And your point is.... what? That you're only culpable of a crime if you invented it? Hitler didn't invent the pogrom so that makes the Holocaust less of a crime against humanity?

"The Bible tells us that the ancient Hebrews were bondsmen in Egypt and held bondsmen of their own in the Holy Land." - And this is relevant to American history exactly how?

"The ancestors of many whites were serfs in Europe." - So... it's OK to own people if your ancestors were owned by people?

"Evil Virginians didn’t invent race, ethnic or linguistic slavery in 1619." Whoever said they did? However, Americans did exploit human captives on a scale never seen before. My Virginia ancestors didn't institutionalize the worst kind of slavery in the hemisphere (compared to the West Indies, for instance) but seriously - slavery is slavery and it's the greatest evil in the history of mankind. And there is no way to rationalize it. And if you try I'm going to call you out as an apologist for genocide.

"Cotton culture in the South wasn’t the foundation of capitalism in the United States." This is factually false. At the beginning of the Civil War, raw cotton accounted for 61 percent of all U.S. products shipped abroad. Slaves were the largest class of capital in dollar value. They served as collateral to fuel both the banking industry and the expansion of cotton westward. The importance of cotton and the institution of slavery that made cotton possible is well documented in "The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism" By: Edward E. Baptist.

"Northern manufacturing after the Civil War was the foundation of modern capitalism, not cotton cultivation." - Cotton was the foundation of the economy before the Civil War, which is why slavery was institutionalized in the United States. The industrial revolution - both in Britain and the US - was a direct outgrowth of the mechanization of textile mills - which came from cotton. Further, the author seems to be implying that the economy after the Civil War had nothing to do with the economy before the war. And that's nonsense. That's not how history (or the economy) works. (But asserting it does tend to insulate us modern white people from the sins of our ancestors - and that's really the whole point of this letter, isn't it?)

"The argument that Southern oligarchs formed a fascist nation within a nation after the Civil War is merely hyperbole. The existence of Jim Crow laws rested on the acquiesce of the poor white population on whose votes the wealthy depended. Fascism is a combination of government and big business, not racial segregation." Fascism is a word that gets thrown around a lot. It's not the word I would use, but, let's look at the definition - "Fascism is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy, which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe (Wikipedia)."

"far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism" - that's a fair description of the south after Reconstruction. "characterized by dictatorial power" - not if you're white. But from the POV of POC - absoshootinlutely. "forcible suppression of opposition" - KKK, Jim Crow, false imprisonment, mmm hmmm. Read "Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II" by Douglas A. Blackmon.

"strong regimentation of society and of the economy" - you mean, like, a society entirely regimented along racial lines?

"which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe" - well, I concede on this point.

"The pending voting legislation in Texas isn’t Jim Crow 2.0 as Woods posits. The state legislature has configured early voting under the legislation to preserve the role of Black churches in early voting on Sunday." Again, not a term I would use. The restrictions in the voting law will discourage voting, and in my opinion, are designed to. Why do I think that voting will decrease under this law? Because in 2020 we saw record-breaking voter turnout - because of voting opportunities that were introduced for the pandemic but are now restricted by this law. Also, is the author suggesting that throwing "Black churches" a Sunday bone should have satisfied Mr. Woods? Why? Because he's black?

"Allowing specifically crafted legislation to promote voting by a specific racial group would seem to be racist." Would it? Really? The question we should be asking is, why was removing Sunday voting ever in this bill in the first place if not to restrict black voting?

"Is this the Jim Crow 2.0 Woods and other Democrats rail against? Or are they simply unconvinced they can continue to win elections without block voting based on skin color and church attendance?" The answer to both questions is NO.

"Article 1, Section 4 of the Constitution reserves voting regulations for each state, not the federal government. The proposed federal legislation to nationalize elections is a power grab by the Democratic Party, not based on facts." Hey - here's a fact: No one has proposed legislation that nationalizes elections. What has been proposed is putting teeth back in the Voting Rights Act of the 1960's - you know, the one that forced southern states to let black folks vote. And setting some minimum standards for fairness in redistricting - you know, the kind that southern states used to keep black votes from counting.

"Words matter; facts matter. Carelessly advocating a false narrative about the founding of the nation denigrates the efforts such as the Civil War, and voting and civil rights acts to make the words of the Declaration of Independence real — all men (people) are created equal." Oh, I agree! That "all men are created equal" thing is what makes slavery a crime against humanity.

"The reality that more people of color than white people voted in the South in 2020 refutes claims of voter suppression." I admit, I lol'd at this one. Claims of voter suppression don't come from the 2020 election - they come from "at least 18 states enacting 30 laws that restrict access to the vote. These laws make mail voting and early voting more difficult, impose harsher voter ID requirements, and make faulty voter purges more likely, among other things. More than 400 bills with provisions that restrict voting access have been introduced in 49 states in the 2021 legislative sessions." - Brennan Center. It's the Republican reaction (horror, really) to the high voter turnout that's driving the laws that are driving the claims of voter suppression. The claim that "more people of color than white people voted in the South in 2020" proves nothing except that there are more POC in the south than whites.

ur welcome

Gary Scoggin

Well said, Bailey. Thanks for taking the time to offer some needed perspective here.

Carlos Ponce

Bailey posts:"Cotton culture in the South wasn’t the foundation of capitalism in the United States." This is factually false. WRONG.

There was capitalism in the South but the chief crop was TOBACCO not cotton.

"....by the end of the seventeenth century tobacco had become the economic staple of Virginia, easily making her the wealthiest of the 13 colonies by the time of the American Revolution."

https://www.nps.gov/jame/learn/historyculture/tobacco-the-early-history-of-a-new-world-crop.htm

Considered one of the wealthiest in Colonial America, George Washing initially grew tobacco but switched to grains such as wheat prior to the Revolutionary War.

He also grew hemp.

https://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/farming/

Cotton was not exported until 1785.... but that was only 7 bales.

"The astronomical rise of American cotton production came at the cost of the South’s first staple crop—tobacco. Perfected in Virginia but grown and sold in nearly every southern territory and state, tobacco served as the South’s main economic commodity for more than a century. But tobacco was a rough crop. It treated the land poorly, draining the soil of nutrients. Tobacco fields did not last forever. "

https://www.americanyawp.com/text/11-the-cotton-revolution/

Bottom line, before King Cotton there was King Tobacco which formed the foundation of capitalism in the Southern colonies then United States.

Carlos Ponce

Bailey posts: "These laws make mail voting and early voting more difficult, impose harsher voter ID requirements, and make faulty voter purges more likely, among other things."

These laws make voter fraud more difficult and legitimate voting easier.

Carlos Ponce

Bailey posts, "The Bible tells us that the ancient Hebrews were bondsmen in Egypt and held bondsmen of their own in the Holy Land." - And this is relevant to American history exactly how?

Despite revisionists efforts to contradict the colonization of America, many colonists were religious and followed the Bible or Torah.

Richard Cacioppo

Fact over narrative, well stated.

Charles Wiley

Don't fault Taris! He didn't write that piece. It was written for him.

Gary Scoggin

“ Allowing specifically crafted legislation to promote voting by a specific racial group would seem to be racist.” Isn’t that exactly what happened? Except the racial group crafting the legislation happened to be white non-Hispanics? Which are a minority group in and of themselves.

Carlos Ponce

Is Gary telling us "white non-Hispanics" are forbidden from crafting legislation? That would be racist.

Charlotte O'rourke

“The reality that more people of color than white people voted in the South in 2020 refutes claims of voter suppression.”

What a fallacious argument!

More people of color voted. The government is taking away the ways that helped more people of color to vote. Therefore this bill is not voter suppression.

I’m not buying it. Portions of the bill will suppress voter turnout.

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