“Trump wants a patriotic commission, 1776 Commission. What does he know about that? Absolutely nothing,” a former top government official tweeted

By Sean Neumann
September 18, 2020 03:17 PM
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President Donald Trump at the 2020 Republican National Convention
Getty Images

President Donald Trump stoked characteristic controversy when he said Thursday he intends to create a commission to promote “pro-American curriculum” in schools instead of what he called "ideological poison."

It was the latest front in Trump's response to so-called "cancel culture," which he has made central to his re-election campaign and to his public appeals after nationwide demonstrations against police misconduct and injustice.

As he has before, on Thursday Trump decried "left-wing mobs" and "Marxist doctrine," and he singled out a widely read history of the country by Howard Zinn and a Pulitzer Prize-winning project by The New York Times that re-examines the role slavery played in America's development.

He also attacked "critical race theory" — which is much more familiar in academia than grade schools.

"We must clear away the twisted web of lies in our schools and classrooms and teach our children the magnificent truth about our country," Trump said at the National Archives Museum in Washington, D.C. "We want our sons and daughters to know that they are the citizens of the most exceptional nation in the history of the world."

Some quickly deemed the announcement “fascist,” while Trump, 74, slammed "toxic" efforts to revisit racism and slavery in U.S. history.

Trump said he plans to sign an executive order creating the “1776 Commission” — a panel he said would “restore patriotic education to our schools" and "encourage our educators to teach our children about the miracle of American history."

“That definitely doesn't sound fascist or anything,” Rep. Don Beyer, a Democratic congressman from Virginia, sarcastically tweeted in response.

Critics of the administration heard in Trump's remarks the authoritarian language of governments who dictate what their citizens can be told.

Former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden, who served in the Clinton and Bush administrations from 1999 to 2005, also spoke out.

“Trump wants a patriotic commission, 1776 Commission. What does he know about that? Absolutely nothing,” Hayden tweeted. “And he’s not interested in facts.”

Trump previously tweeted a threat that his administration would withhold funding to California schools who integrated the Times' "1619 Project" into their curricula. (The project has drawn the ire of other conservatives. It has been criticized by some historians and supported by others.)

The federal government doesn’t have direct control over how locally run schools shape their educational guidelines, though it does provide funding to states and regularly ties that money to certain requirements.

“Patriotic moms and dads are going to demand that their children are no longer fed hateful lies about this country,” Trump said Thursday. “American parents are not going to accept indoctrination in our schools, cancel culture at work or the repression of traditional faith, culture and values in the public square. Not anymore.”

One Twitter user’s response: “Sounds about white.”