If patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, what is “patriotic education” the last refuge of?
Apparently it’s fascism, at least according to the reaction of Twitter users to President Donald Trump’s newly announced 1776 Commission, which is supposed to “promote patriotic education” in schools, according to Axios.
The president’s plan, contained in an executive order to be signed Thursday, seems to be a direct reaction to The New York Times’ 1619 Project.
That Pulitzer Prize-winning project studied the effects of racial injustice by “placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”
But the project’s focus on the country’s racial history didn’t sit well with Trump, who earlier this month threatened to defund schools that use it as an educational tool.
Many Twitter users noticed something interesting about the president’s plan: its similarity to the tactics used by authoritarian leaders.
Soooo…Trump wants to nationalize indoctrination, in the name of liberty?
I mean that does sound pretty American 🤔 https://t.co/f9QHTU7KF9
— Thom Thóin (@thomdunn) September 17, 2020
That definitely doesn't sound fascist or anything https://t.co/lVtu5av3pd
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) September 17, 2020
Would be slightly more believable if Trump wasn’t a Russian agent. https://t.co/c7ig6vdfJ3
— Arne Duncan (@arneduncan) September 17, 2020
If only Trump cared as much about PPE for health care workers as he does about PPE for white supremacists. https://t.co/STjomKopso
— Jesse Ferguson (@JesseFFerguson) September 17, 2020
— Aaron Mahnke (@amahnke) September 17, 2020
The truly alarming thing is the degree to which public school history education already glosses over key events, or excludes them entirely. How many people learned about the Tulsa riots from an HBO superhero show? https://t.co/6rGYRp2VEz
— Alex Fitzpatrick (@AlexJamesFitz) September 17, 2020
This is full-on dictator shit here people... https://t.co/wtQZCAiZDW
— Kate Kendell (@KateKendell) September 17, 2020
Is that Republican for ‘Hitler Youth’? https://t.co/TGFkktwCgv
— Andrea Kuszewski 🧠 (@AndreaKuszewski) September 17, 2020
Learning the shameful parts of our nation's history allows you to better understand our present problems. It also exposes you to stories of hope and perseverance from those men and women who tried to make the country better. https://t.co/mKRU5yzzqA
— Brian Lyman (@lyman_brian) September 17, 2020
Many Twitter users rightfully saw the president’s attempt to indoctrinate people about a whitewashed America. But Nikole Hannah-Jones, a New York Times journalist who worked on the 1619 Project, said she thought at least one civil rights pioneer would see Trump’s tweet as a sign that the message of racial justice is actually succeeding.
Ida B. Wells would be so proud. She straightens my spine on this day.
— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) September 17, 2020
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.