The Alternative History of the United States

By Ben Shapiro

Last week, Democrats held their first true presidential debate. With the field winnowed down to 10 candidates — three of them actual contenders for the nomination — only one moment truly stood out. That moment came not from Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders but from a candidate desperate for attention: Beto O’Rourke.

O’Rourke ran in 2018 for a Senate seat in Texas and lost in shockingly narrow fashion to incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. But his persona at the time was more Biden than Bernie: He ran as a unifying quasi-moderate, an Obama-esque figure determined to bring Americans together. In the early going of the presidential race, Beto was figured to be a prime contender: An April poll showed him in a solid third place. But he’s faded dramatically; now the once-media darling is polling below 3 percent.

So O’Rourke has refashioned himself into a woke warrior. He’s declared that he wants to forcibly remove guns from law-abiding Americans (“Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15”), that President Trump is a “white supremacist” posing a “mortal threat to people of color” and that the time has come for race reparations. Most dramatically, O’Rourke has refashioned his vision of American history. In this debate, he laid out his retelling of the American story, saying: “Racism in America is endemic. It is foundational. We can mark the creation of this country not at the Fourth of July, 1776, but Aug. 20, 1619, when the first kidnapped African was brought to this country against his will and in bondage, and as a slave built the greatness and the success and the wealth that neither he nor his descendants would ever be able to fully participate in and enjoy.”


This version of history is cribbed from "The 1619 Project" by The New York Times, a retelling of American history as a story rooted in white supremacy — not colored by or affected by white supremacy but rooted in it. Capitalism, criminal justice, lack of universal health care, traffic patterns, Donald Trump's election — all of it, according to "The 1619 Project," is fundamentally based on America's legacy of slavery and racial discrimination.

That perspective on American history, in turn, is merely warmed over Howard Zinn. Zinn, the Marxist author of "A People's History of the United States," sought to recast America's story as a story of hideous ugliness covered with the hypocritical facade of goodness. Never mind that "A People's History" is, in fact, rotten history — factually inaccurate, wildly disjoined from a more comprehensive examination of time and place, near plagiarized from the work of better leftist historians. Zinn's history has now infused the teaching of American history in high schools and colleges across the country.

But that historical retelling is at odds with the better, truer story of America: the story of a nation founded on eternally good and true principles, principles only fully realized for many Americans at the cost of blood and sweat and death. Ex-slave Frederick Douglass's take on American history remains the most honest, as well as the most visionary. While acknowledging that to the American slave, Independence Day represents "more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim," Douglass recognized that the Constitution is a "glorious liberty document," the Declaration of Independence a charter of "saving principles."

American history is our common history. O'Rourke's pathetic rewriting of American history is designed not to unify us as a nation but to divide us — to call us away from the unifying principles that lie at the foundation of America, in favor of divisive principles of tribal partisanship. We must recognize the evils of American history — that is part of our common story. In fact, our quest to rid ourselves of those evils is our common story. But if we wish to survive as a nation, we must also recognize that the story of America lies in the constant purification of our actions to align with our founding principles, not oppose them.

When you sign up to comment you'll also receive our regular newsletter. You can find more about how we use your information here.

16 thoughts on “The Alternative History of the United States”

  1. Folks, the democrat Party has been working tirelessly to keep as many people as ignorant and needy as possible. The last administration did enough damage to OUR public school systems to create a generation completely ignorant of the facts and even the spirit that founded America. I fear that may have been the final nail in Freedom’s coffin. These people are now voting away OUR very rights and civil liberties and don’t have a clue as to what they are doing.

    1. Their is an old saying that we are all born ignorant but one must work hard to remain stupid. And that is the democrat party.

  2. I HATE rewriting history or omitting history. The history of America is written in blood, sweat and tears of many peoples. History is what it is, history. We MUST learn from not only our mistakes, but our triumphs. When the first “settlers” came to this continent, they came as emissaries from various kings and they came to escape religious turmoil. They had never encountered a peoples like the natives of this continent and because they were not “educated”, nor lived like the settlers were accustomed to, they were not treated as equals. Fair or not, it was the way the minds worked in “that day and age”. One thing that the natives and the settlers were accustomed to, was the knowledge of indentured servitude and/or slavery. When people were brought over to America and sold into slavery, again, because of their “different” lives, education, beliefs and practices, they were also thought of as “lesser”, of a similar level to other “livestock”. It was what it was, it is what it is…but it is HISTORY. We now don’t believe that mindset or way of living is acceptable. We have learned! The native American and those that were brought over to this continent, helped to form and shape the USA of today. We should rejoice and respect those that came before us but to somehow be ashamed of what our forefathers did in a different day and time is to disrespect the America today. I thank the native American people and I thank the enslaved people and I thank the adventurers, the settlers, the hardworking people all, that gave us the USA. No statues should come down that commemorate those people that helped to form the US, but perhaps more that commemorate “others” should go up next to them. ALL of the people who made our country great should be celebrated TOGETHER!

  3. Robert Francis O’Rourke: Otherwise known by the ignorant masses as “BETO” which is a nickname “apodo” in spanish ; Look up the word apodo in spanish at Google translate you will laugh at the definition 🙂
    This university educated colossal jerk gets the attention of his similarly educated “brainwashed” kin which are a very powerful dangerous group of zombies. BEWARE AMERICA OF FALSE PROPHETS; YOU STAND TO EITHER, MAGA, OR LOSE IT ALL AT THE BLINK OF AN EYE.

  4. Definitely believe that that you stated. Your favourite justification appeared to
    be at the web the easiest thing to take note of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed whilst
    other people consider issues that they just don’t recognise about.
    You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also outlined out the entire thing with no need side effect
    , other people can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more.
    Thank you

  5. It’s the best time to make some plans for the future
    and it’s time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I want to
    suggest you few interesting things or advice. Maybe you can write
    next articles referring to this article. I wish to read
    more things about it!

  6. hi!,I really like your writing so much! share we be in contact extra
    approximately your article on AOL? I need an expert on this area to unravel my
    problem. May be that’s you! Taking a look forward to peer you.

Comments are closed.