MSNBC’s Ali Velshi Accuses Conservatives of Trying to Silence 1619 Project Writer

Leftists got upset at the recent news that the University of North Carolina’s board of trustees decided not to give New York Times Magazine writer and 1619 Project organizer Nikole Hannah-Jones tenure, but despite this, she will still be teaching at UNC starting in July. Still, MSNBC’s Ali Velshi used his Saturday show to accuse conservatives of silencing and cancelling her, because they don’t support free speech. 

Velshi alleged that “the UNC’s board of trustees denied Hannah-Jones tenure, reportedly bowing to conservative criticism of her most prominent work: The 1619 Project, for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.” Winning the Pulitzer is just a left-wing credential, as is the McArthur “genius” grant, which Velshi also threw in. 

As this was a “conservatives are hypocrites” segment, it was not mentioned that it was not just conservatives that had problems with the 1619 Project, it was people across the political spectrum and actual scholars of the Revolution and Founding Fathers.  

Velshi then cited his own ignorance as a reason why the 1619 Project is so valuable. “In the 1619 Project Hannah Jones and others challenge our perception of America’s history, pointing out before Plymouth Colony was established by the Pilgrims, the first enslaved Americans were already in the United States. In fact, a lot of people including me, didn’t know before the 1619 Project that was the case.”

Returning to condemning conservatives, Velshi declared that “instead of thanking her for broadening our corpus of historical knowledge, conservatives have since been on a crusade to silence Nikole and her work. The very same group of people who boast of being First Amendment champions and complain about cancel culture are in fact punishing speech and trying to cancel Nikole Hannah-Jones.” 

This is the same network that has previously said cancel culture is only something insecure white people care about.

As if universities do not already have plenty of tenured professors who agree with Jones, Velshi added, “UNC should not fall for it. They cannot punish people for offering views for which they disagree or don’t understand. Free speech is not just free speech for those who validate your worldview…Muting the voice of your opposition is not victory, debate is. College is where debate is supposed to thrive. Academia provides the space for healthy discussion. It is the point of university.”

If anyone believes conservatives on campus can count on professors to provide a “space for healthy discussion,” they haven’t been on campus recently.

Concluding his monologue, Velshi declared that “Nikole Hannah-Jones introduced a new outlook into the dialogue about race in America. It is a hard perspective. You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to agree with it, but you cannot erase it.”

Yes, a perspective designed to push a political narrative and supported by sloppy scholarship.

This segment was sponsored by T-Mobile.

Here is a transcript for the May 22 show:

MSNBC

Velshi

9:15 AM ET

ALI VELSHI: Democracy relies expressly on the ability to form an opinion and express it, which is why what happened this week to the journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones is so troubling. Ms. Hannah-Jones is a friend of the show, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, a Peabody award winner, and genius in the literal sense. She was awarded the McArthur Genius Grant in 2017. She was recently appointed to a prestigious role at the University of North Carolina’s respected journalism school, a role historically followed by the recipient being granted tenure at the university. But the UNC’s board of trustees denied Hannah-Jones tenure, reportedly bowing to conservative criticism of her most prominent work: The 1619 Project, for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. It’s too much to explain here, but if you haven’t read it you should, but in the 1619 Project Hannah Jones and others challenge our perception of America’s history, pointing out before Plymouth Colony was established by the Pilgrims, the first enslaved Americans were already in the United States. 

In fact, a lot of people including me, didn’t know before the 1619 Project that was the case, but instead of thanking her for broadening our corpus of historical knowledge, conservatives have since been on a crusade to silence Nikole and her work. The very same group of people who boast of being First Amendment champions and complain about cancel culture are in fact punishing speech and trying to cancel Nikole Hannah-Jones. UNC should not fall for it. They cannot punish people for offering views for which they disagree or don’t understand. Free speech is not just free speech for those who validate your worldview. Just this week plant of good people have taken exception to things I have written and said on this show about the Israeli government and Palestinians. People disagree with me all the time. I’m not only okay with it, I encourage it. That’s the world in which we live. You have your point of view, I have mine. Let’s talk about it. 

Muting the voice of your opposition is not victory, debate is. College is where debate is supposed to thrive. Academia provides the space for healthy discussion. It is the point of university. It is definitely the point of journalism. UNC has done little to explain its reasoning behind denying Hannah-Jones tenure. One of the trustees said “as trustees we take our responsibility of approving tenure. We are talking about a lifetime position here. We do not enter it lightly.” Did I mention the Pulitzer, the Peabody, and McArthur Genius Award. UNC denying Nikole Hannah-Jones tenure is kowtowing to people who would deny her expression. Nikole Hannah-Jones introduced a new outlook into the dialogue about race in America. It is a hard perspective. You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to agree with it, but you cannot erase it.

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