Fit for all? Or All in a fit?

~a column by Colleen O’Brien

I was introduced to two informative pieces of journalism recently, both from current publications of the 161-year-old New York Times. This newspaper is the much maligned, much vaunted and must-read daily voice by those who feel a need to be in the know around the world. It claims to print “All the news that’s fit to print.”

One of the informative pieces is the “1619 Project” that plumbed historic documents to “deepen readers’ understanding of American history.” The second is “a trip through the New York Time’s photo archive” that tests our knowledge of each state in the Union. This latter is a completely “fit to print” history. The former, however heavily researched and fact-checked a history, will probably be causing fits for another 161 years.

The quiz, available online [https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/travel/50-states-photo-quiz.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share], is fun – and tricky. The photos are from the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s, and the first clue above a picture is not necessarily the most known fact of the state. I managed to pass the quiz because of the second hint that slid across the computer screen after I couldn’t get the first hint.

The “1619 Project” is not ground-breaking; it is, however, news breaking. What you will read here you may not have read anywhere in your life. The New York Magazine’s Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019 issue is a 400-year commemoration of August 1619, when the first ship of enslaved Africans was offloaded at the English colony of Virginia, in America. The many articles in this issue explain the settling in of an obscure colony, far from the established world far across the sea, paying to enslave black foreigners and, most importantly, how this has shaped our history to this day.

The states quiz is not politically charged; it is fun facts. The choice to read it or not is unimportant in the scheme of things.

The 1619 Project is a collection of inconvenient truths that may unnerve you; or at least make you think of things differently. It is applauded by the Left. The political Right is raging that it is not fit to print.

With these warnings at hand, you probably already know that the 1619 Project is something that will or will not appeal when/if you test yourself with seldom published facts on our earliest history.

We have no say in choosing the times we live in. But learning the facts of the past can give us the opportunity to alleviate the continuing harsh consequences of that past.

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