The executive director of President Donald Trump’s Advisory 1776 Commission said Tuesday the commission’s newly released report defends 1776 as “the true founding” of America and rejects “the claim of American being by nature racist” as “one-sided history.”
During an interview with host Alex Marlow on Sirius XM’s Breitbart News Daily, Dr. Matthew Spalding said the commission’s report, released Monday, is defending 1776 as “the true founding” of America. He noted as well that, along with “slavery or progressivism or fascism or communism abroad” as threats to the founding principles, “identity politics” may be added today.
In December, Trump named Dr. Larry Arnn, Hillsdale College president, and Spalding, the college’s vice president for its Washington, DC, operations and dean of the Van Andel Graduate School of Government, as chair and executive director of the President’s Advisory 1776 Commission, respectively.
Trump named former Vanderbilt University professor and political analyst Dr. Carol Swain as the commission’s vice chair.
Spalding told Marlow and his audience that, to some extent, the commission and its report may be considered a response to the New York Times 1619 Project, which claims America’s true founding date is 1619, the year African slaves were first brought to the colonies.
“But more broadly,” he explained, “Howard Zinn and other revisionist histories for some time have been arguing that America really is not a playing out, if you will, of principles set down in the Declaration,” in terms of the statement that “all men are created equal.”
“But it actually is defined by the existence of slavery, and, thus, it is systemic from the very beginning,” he continued. “And we reject that claim outright indeed.”
Spalding added, “What we argue, and I think what we call for, is the honest history, looking at the facts. I mean the claim of America being by nature racist is really a one-sided history … rather than looking at the facts of the case. And Lincoln’s understanding, and here Lincoln really in many ways is the guide through this report, Lincoln saw all of that and understood all of that very differently, as did Martin Luther King, I would point out, who is also a prominent figure in this report. They understood the Declaration having proclaimed true principles about the nature of man. We are all created equal. That doesn’t mean our history is perfect without its flaws, without its ugly parts. But America’s history has always been a relationship between those principles and a nation trying, aspiring to uphold those principles and moving in that direction.”
Spalding observed as well “the abolitionist movement began in America.”
“It began in America in light of the principles of the Declaration,” he added. “That’s what Lincoln turned back to. That’s what Martin Luther King later turned back to very prominently in his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.”
He said, however, that the revisionist histories do not reflect an America that concluded slavery had to be eliminated.
Marlow remarked he has reflected on and discussed with his radio audience that “the left in America does have this clear objective to make America not just kind of hate where we’re at, at this moment, but to look back at America and decide that, at best, we are not an exceptional place, and, at worst, we’re a particularly racist and horrible place.”
“Is there any country that does this to itself, where they look back and try to insist that it’s actually a horrible country that they live in?” Marlow asked. “Because this is the message prevailing.”
Spalding responded that “what makes America exceptional” is the fact that it began its first day with “a claim of truth, that all men are equal.”
He explained his view of the problem that there exists an “extreme line between America being perfect in all cases … without any flaw, and the opposite extreme is it’s completely evil. It’s wrong. It’s evil. It must be denounced in all cases.”
Spalding elaborated, “History really is actually someplace in the middle. History is of human beings, establishing and proclaiming claims of justice, that is, what the Declaration does, and then doing their darndest, with mistakes and flaws along the way, to try to hold up and live up to those principles. That’s what I think the history of America really is. So, the report calls for an honest history. Yes, there are flaws. There are imperfections. There are great big, massive scars on American history, the most prominent being slavery, which was barbaric. But the history of America is a movement away from that … and a restoration of the principles of the Declaration.”
Spalding observed all “justice” movements have referred back to the principles and claims found in the Declaration of Independence.
“That’s where abolition comes from; that’s where women’s suffrage comes from, the civil rights movement … the pro-life movement, the anti-communist movement,” he said. “They all move back to a claim of justice, which we find in the Declaration of Independence. To move away from that is to … find your principles elsewhere. And that’s what we’re worried about.”
Spalding explained America is now seeing an “increasing rise of claims of group rights, based on ethnicity or race or sex or something else.”
He said these claims of such group rights are “always problematic” because “who says what group has rights and what groups don’t have rights?”
“We prefer to look at rights inherent in each and every individual, regardless of the color of their skin, based on the laws of nature and nature’s God,” he continued. “That was Martin Luther King’s position. That was the position of Lincoln; that was the position of the founding. We think that is the best, most defendable and most morally correct position to take in all of these debates.”
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