I am back from visiting Ben in Houston, where I took notes of what I was thinking, in between cutting and burning brush and small trees and other tasks about the house he has neglected to accomplish the half-dozen years he has lived there. The large master bedroom and bath remain unused, for example, stacked with books and framed art on the floor. The trim is taped as if someone is going to paint the walls someday, and there is plastic over the carpet to catch the paint that isn't there. However, he has a serious girlfriend who is taking some matters in hand herself and impressing upon him the need to take others in hand himself. I liked her very much, not only as an enjoyable person to talk with, but how she matches with my son.
On to the matter for observation.
The 1619 Project is only the most visible attempt to reinterpret the past. Reinterpreting the past is always necessary, as we understand ourselves better by looking through the archives of humanity. However, this does not mean that all reinterpretations are equally valid or equally useful. Even the wrongheaded ones have some use, for they at least capture a little something. Yet in this case I think there is a dishonesty right out of the gate. Many current reinterpretations, including 1619, are not actually about the past. They are an attempt to change things in the present, using the past as a weapon.
While this immediate application of the past to the present is what we have always done, even before we were literate and had historians, this is a more direct line and skips important steps. The past must be studied first for its own sake, without thought of its current application. We might approach the past with love or with hatred, but we must first try and find out what it is. Modern readers will object that this is never possible. Everything is interpretation, every reading of history makes selections and neglects other data, we would say in our era. We cannot even notice much of what occurred, because our assumptions blind us. I find this reasoning merely silly. Of course we can know. We only know poorly and approximately; we bring enormous biases; we must constantly revise, all this is true. If one squints hard enough, we are capable of making anything look like anything.
Next, worrying about climate change is supposedly about the future. It is not. If it were about the future then the worriers would have at least passing concern about the future of the economy as well. They would care at least some about the future of our institutions and culture. It might be about the near future, an extension of the present where they will live their next ten or twenty years, but it is not about what will happen in fifty or one hundred years. As with the weaponised past, this is the weaponised future, used to make the world look as they wish right here and now. The future is an even more open canvas than the past, on which clever artists can paint images of destruction to their hearts content.
I prefer the images of the future that we had in the past, myself.