Though Donald Trump spent a big chunk of his address at last month’s Republican National Convention decrying “cancel culture,” warning that its goal is “to make decent Americans live in fear of being fired, expelled, shamed, humiliated, and driven from society as we know it,” the President is now basically threatening to “cancel” schools that teach subject matter he doesn’t like.
On Sunday, Trump announced via Twitter that the United States government will defund any public school caught teaching material from “The 1619 Project,” an ongoing series published by The New York Times that, per its website, “aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”
“Department of Education is looking at this,” the President tweeted. “If so, they will not be funded!”
He was responding to a tweet posted by an account with fewer than 500 followers (literally just some guy!) that claimed, without citation, that California public schools had already begun incorporating “The 1619 Project” into their curricula. “Soon you won’t recognize America,” some guy warned.
As CNN noted in its reporting on Sunday, it’s unclear just how, uhhhh…real? any of this is. Some schools are implementing the Times’ series into their lesson plans, the news outlet said, though it’s really not known just how many.
But focusing on whether or not schools are teaching students about slavery in a way that doesn’t serve to prop up nationalist mythology is kind of beside the point. Trump’s obviously just using his social media bully pulpit to dog-whistle white supremacist rhetoric into the public sphere, regardless of whether the Department of Education is really investigating any of this, as he has claimed.