President Donald Trump defended the legacy of the American founding and denounced “cancel culture,” Critical Race Theory, and the New York Times’ 1619 Project as “toxic propaganda” in a speech on Thursday announcing a new executive order to reform how schools teach United States History.
The executive order will establish the “1776 Commission,” a national commission to promote “patriotic education.”
The president delivered his remarks at the White House Conference on American History, held at the National Archives Museum in Washington, D.C., to celebrate Constitution Day. He was joined by Vice President Mike Pence and a panel of scholars and historians, led by Hillsdale College President Dr. Larry Arnn, who spoke at length about the state of America’s public school system and the progressive curricula that teaches students to view America’s founding in contempt and her history as shameful.
“Our mission is to defend the legacy of America’s founding, the virtue of America’s heroes, and the nobility of the American character,” Trump said. “We must clear away the twisted web of lies in our schools and classrooms and teach our children the magnificent truth about our country. We want our sons and daughters to know that they are the citizens of the most exceptional nation in the history of the world.”
The president praised America’s founding documents, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights as a “glorious inheritance.”
“On this very day in 1787, our Founding Fathers signed the Constitution at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. It was the fulfillment of 1,000 years of Western Civilization,” Trump said. “Our Constitution was the product of centuries of tradition, wisdom, and experience. No political document has done more to advance the human condition or propel the engine of progress.”
Shifting to speak about the violent leftist and anarchist mobs that are tearing down statues in the United States, the president warned of a “radical movement” attempting to “demolish this treasured and precious inheritance.”
“These radicals have been aided and abetted by liberal politicians, establishment media, and even large corporations,” Trump said. “Whether it is the mob in the street or the cancel culture in the boardroom, the goal is the same: To silence dissent, to scare you out of speaking the truth, and to bully Americans into abandoning their values, their heritage, and their very way of life.
“We are here today to declare that we will never submit to tyranny. We will reclaim our history and our country for citizens of every race, color, religion, and creed,” the president continued.
Trump connected the modern Left’s violence and anti-American iconoclasm to “decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools.”
He took particular aim at the “totally discredited” New York Times’ 1619 Project, an effort by NYT journalists to re-tell the American story with slavery and racism as the primary motivating force for all of American history, arguing “anti-black racism runs in the very DNA” of America. The project has been criticized by historians as “anti-historical,” “one-sided,” and just plain “wrong.”
He also called out Critical Race Theory as a “Marxist doctrine” that teaches that “America is a wicked and racist nation, that even young children are complicit in oppression.”
“Critical race theory, the 1619 Project, and the crusade against American history is toxic propaganda — an ideological poison that, if not removed, will dissolve the civic bonds that tie us together,” Trump said. “The only path to national unity is through our shared identity as Americans. That is why it is so urgent that we finally restore patriotic education to our schools.”
In September, President Trump ordered the defunding of “un-American propaganda” in government, placing a ban on training programs in government agencies that teach concepts from Critical Race Theory. The memo announcing the ban characterized the training as “divisive, un-American propaganda training sessions.”
“Today, I am also pleased to announce that I will soon sign an executive order establishing a national commission to promote patriotic education, it will be called the 1776 Commission,” Trump declared.
The commission will “encourage our educators to teach our children about the miracle of American history and make plans to honor the 250th anniversary of our founding.”
Schools will be encouraged to teach that America is “an exceptional, free and just nation, worth defending, preserving and protecting,” Trump said.
“The only path to unity is through our shared identity as Americans,” Trump said. “That is why it is so urgent that we finally restore patriotic education in our schools.”
Watch President Trump’s full speech:
President Trump speaks at the White House conference on American History — 9/17/2020