Dr. Davis Headshot MEDIA.jpg

College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis

College of the Ozarks’ president recently appeared on a national cable program to defend a history document from the White House that he helped craft, but that was rescinded almost immediately by the new administration.

C of O President Jerry Davis appeared Friday on the Fox News Channel program Fox & Friends to discuss the 1776 Commission. The document produced by that commission was issued in the waning days of the Trump Administration. But new President Joseph Biden, on his first day in the job rescinded the document under claims that the document whitewashed America’s history of racism.

“I think what we see here is just another battle in the war against American heritage,” Davis said, appearing on the program remotely from the college. “Why would anyone have a problem with a commission whose sole goal is to better inform people about the heritage of this country. I don’t understand how that could be a priority. I can think of others I think the government should be worried about.”

The President’s Advisory 1776 Commission was created by an executive order by President Donald Trump on Nov. 2, 2020. In December, College of the Ozarks announced that Davis had been appointed to that commission.

In that press release, Davis said, “We must reinforce American ideals and values at this critical time in history. Some in our nation seek to erase any distinct sense of American identity or American Exceptionalism from our hearts, minds, and history books.”

Biden’s executive order of Jan. 20 rescinds the work of that commission.

On Fox & Friends, Davis was interviewed by Pete Hegseth about Biden’s order. Hegseth was at C of O in October 2018 to do a live segment from the college in which he interviewed Davis about the school’s efforts to teach patriotic education. Hegseth, who is an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, returned to the college in April 2019 to be one of several speakers at the school’s dedication of its Global War on Terrorism Memorial.

Davis told Hegseth that the 1776 document does not ignore the role of racism and slavery in the nation’s history. He said critics simply don’t want anyone to read it. However, Davis said the document can be accessed on the C of O website, as well as other sites on the Internet.

“It comes down to, what is your view of America? We view America as something that’s good and we’ll correct things as we go along. There are people out there who are self-appointed guardians of our heritage that want to tell us that America is no good and can’t be redeemed. These people just don’t like America.”

Forty historical societies, including the American Historical Association, signed on to a document condemning the 1776 report. Among the many points it made, the document stated: “Written hastily in one month after two desultory and tendentious ‘hearings,’ without any consultation with professional historians of the United States, the report fails to engage a rich and vibrant body of scholarship that has evolved over the last seven decades. Americans across the nation, perhaps including some of the commissioners, have encountered this history not only in books and classrooms, but also at museums, in national parks, and even in their homes as they watch documentaries.”

In his interview with Hegseth, Davis took shots at Ivy League schools, claiming they have lost touch with America, and he took a shot at tech companies who “want to tell you what you can read.”

“They don’t like what we said about America that’s good, so they want to remove it,” Davis said.

 

(2) comments

Keesarose

Thank you, Dr. Davis for speaking truth with hope.

Carnegie

There is plenty worth celebrating about the U.S., let’s not think otherwise. But …… the 1776 Commission is about instituting a vanilla/skeleton history of slavery and reverse what historians are in agreement and implement a process that does not allow the full history of slavery in America. We need to be aware of the bad in our past as well as the good. Seems a college president would want all of us to be conservative, white and live behind a guarded gate? All Americans need to be aware that view is NOT the real America.

The 1776 commission is campaign fodder for the past President’s base, who are fearful that the unblemished history they learned in high school and the cultural dominance of white men, are under threat. They are right. Over the past 50 years, historians have documented the hidden history of racism, injustice and unequal treatment sustained by people of color, especially African Americans. Is it ok for college presidents to not believe historians? Thought their job was to promoted higher learning? The 1776 commission drew intense criticism from historians, some of whom noted that the commission, while stocked with conservative educators, did not include a single professional historian of the United States. Should people believe professionals? Most folks leading institutions of higher learning think so.

The worst flaw of the 1776 idea is that it is intended to refute the 1619 Project, which took seriously the importance of racism in our history. The problems in our society will never be resolved by denying their existence or papering them over with high-flown language about our founding principles. Only by confronting our history without blinders do we have a chance of making good on our founding principles.

Bad mouthing Ivy League Universities as liberal? No, I would call them secular. Where open discourse of ideas is a good thing, especially in institutions of higher learning. Of course this does not fit the very sheltered conservative small college philosophy world views, where their president who requires his students to take an oath to believe conservative only values. Don’t expect to find students who are homosexual, brown, black or not an evangelical Christian (maybe a few slip in the back door?) behind their guarded gates.

I do not care anything about these small ultra conservative colleges, I really don’t. I generally don’t care anything about the life views of their presidents, I really don’t. What I do care about is when ultra conservative small college presidents foisting their limiting life views on American school students who have a right to know that slavey wasn’t just blacks picking cotton, no it was most often a horrific life to live. The hundred years after the Civil War was often a terrifying daily existence for blacks, particularly in the south. Ever read up on lynchings of blacks? Students have a right to know the entire story, not cherry picked history.

Maybe ultra conservative small college presidents should come out and share their opinions on the recent insurrection and riot at the US Capitol to overthrow the past Presidential election? Does these presidents approve of the insurrection? Was it justified? Was it patriotic? Was the last election stolen? Discuss how white conservative thugs threw US Flags on poles at Capital Police at their insurrection, killing one of the officers, injuring hundreds. Was that proper flag protocol? Freshman at some small colleges must take a patriotic oath. Where do the president’s oath to patriotism currently stand?

White America can exist behind the locked gates of small colleges, but not in unlocked gates across America.

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