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on a national cable program to defend a history document from the White House that he helped craft, but that was rescinded almost immediately by the new administration.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 But new President Joseph Biden, on his first day in the job rescinded the document under claims that the document whitewashed America’s history of racism.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.