When I explain the Josephson Institute’s Six Pillars of Character, I often emphasize a single ethical value under each of the “pillars” as the heart of that category. For the pillar labeled “Trustworthiness,” It’s an easy choice. The core value is integrity. Unless an organization, institution or human being possesses and displays integrity, they should not and cannot be trusted.
When the Nobel Peace Prize committee, already wounded by its ridiculous award of the honor to Palestinian terrorist Yassir Arafat in 1994, gave another to U.S. President Barack Obama, who had been in office less than ten months, it settled any question about its integrity: it had none. The excuse—it certainly wasn’t an explanation–was that he had made “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people”. This was fantasy, and even Obama, who should have rejected the award, said that the award was a “call to action.” The Nobel Peace Prize is not a political advocacy organization, or wasn’t. This was an unmistakable political endorsement, based on the race of the recipient. It was a rejection of its mission, and institutional integrity. No one should care who the Peace Prize goes to now. It’s a fake honorIt cannot be trusted.
Today, the committee of the Pulitzer Prize , which was established to encourage and recognize excellence in journalism, decided to toss its own integrity away in order to signal its virtue to the ideological clones of its members. Again, the catalyst was race. In the category of commentary, the prize of $15,000 was awarded to Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times “for a sweeping, deeply reported and personal essay for the ground-breaking 1619 Project, which seeks to place the enslavement of Africans at the center of America’s story, prompting public conversation about the nation’s founding and evolution.”
There is a problem with this description however. The enslavement of Africans is not at the center of America’s story, and virtually no reputable historians agree that it is. The assertions made by Hannah-Jones were not merely passionate, they were substantially false. Five of the most distinguished American historians protested to the Times, saying in the course of a tough and critical letter,
On the American Revolution, pivotal to any account of our history, the project asserts that the founders declared the colonies’ independence of Britain “in order to ensure slavery would continue.” This is not true. If supportable, the allegation would be astounding — yet every statement offered by the project to validate it is false. Some of the other material in the project is distorted, including the claim that “for the most part,” black Americans have fought their freedom struggles “alone.”
After it was made public, Leslie Harris, a Northwestern University historian who helped fact-check the 1619 Project, revealed that when she raised some of the same points as the five historians to Nikole Hannah-Jones, she was ignored. Hannah-Jones, however, is not a historian; she’s a reporter with an agenda: slavery reparations.
As Ethics Alarms reported here, the Times nudged her to make a correction, while the paper itself issued weak apology. The passage in the introduction to the 1619 Project that had read…
Conveniently left out of our founding mythology is the fact that one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery.
… was changed to,
Conveniently left out of our founding mythology is the fact that one of the primary reasons some of the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery.