Cartoon: G.O.P. Approved History

Welcome back to artist R. E. Ryan! This is the second cartoon he’s done with me; I certainly hope there’ll be more.

In 2019, the New York Times published The 1619 Project, an anthology of essays and other works arguing that slavery has had an enormous impact on U.S. history. (The title is a reference to the first year enslaved Africans landed in the colonies).

Republicans immediately set out to ban The 1619 Project from public schools. From Wikipedia:

Donald Trump, in his final few months as president of the United States, vowed to ban the 1619 Project from state curricula, accusing educators of teaching their students to “hate their own country.” Echoing Trump’s proposal, Republican lawmakers also sought to ban the project from state curricula; bills were introduced by US Senator Tom Cotton at the federal level, by State Representative Mark Lowery in Arkansas, by State Representative Skyler Wheeler in Iowa, and by Senator Angela Burks Hill in Mississippi. By the end of the summer of 2021, 27 states had introduced bills echoing the language and intent of Cotton’s bill.

Under Ron DeSantis, the 1619 Project was banned from being taught in Florida public schools, first by a 2021 Florida State Board of Education amendment banning critical race theory and again in 2022 by the Stop WOKE Act.

Some Republicans have proposed laws to ban teaching lessons that could make white students feel bad. From CBC:

A Florida state senator is pushing back on a bill aimed at protecting white people from feeling “discomfort” or “guilt” while learning about racism in the nation’s past.

The Republican bill — called “Individual Freedom” — would prohibit private businesses and public schools from training staff or students about racism in U.S. history in a way that makes them feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race.”

One thing I found telling about the criticism of The 1619 Project is how many of their arguments were about how innocent white people were. For example, a well-known science fiction writer argued that the slaves brought to Virginia in 1619 were “captured by Africans and sold by Africans.”

That’s somewhere between misleading and just false. The enslaved people in question were from Ndongo. The particular soldiers who captured them were a mix of Africans and Portuguese. But who ordered them to do that?

The person who pushed gave the orders was Luís Mendes de Vasconcellos, who Portugal had placed to be governor of Angola. De Vasconcellos chose to go to war specifically because he wanted to profit from capturing and selling slaves.

De Vasconcellos was white.

His underlings who administered the sales were white.

The money from the sales went to white people. (And, ultimately, the king of Portugal.)

That’s hardly the only example. Well-known conservatives have argued that the people brought to Virginia in 1619 were indentured servants, not slave. (False.) They have argued that in 1780, Pennsylvania was “the first time that any country, any government, any legislature” had passed anti-slavery laws. (Ridiculously false.)

What this all has in common is a desire, among conservatives, to teach an alternate history in which white people are always totally and completely innocent.

This cartoon attempts to make fun of that, in ways that are completely silly and that I enjoy a lot.


This cartoon has four panels. Each panel shows a different scene with different characters.


A bald white man wearing a brown suit is speaking directly to the reader. He has a gun-shaped flame lighter in one hand, a flame coming out the end, and a book in the other hand. The book’s title is “Woke Gender Stuff,” and the book is on fire.

MAN: You’ve probably heard woke liberal media lies about Republicans banning books from schools. But we love learning! We just want students to hear the truth! So sit down and learn some G.O.P. APPROVED HISTORY.

(The last three words of the Man’s dialog are in huge, friendly letters, forming the title of this strip.)


Two Black men are wearing Victorian-era suits and ties; one is wearing a tall black top hat. They are seated in plush armchairs in what looks like an exclusive men’s club; they are smoking cigars and drinking from wine glasses. 

The first man grins as he speaks to us; the second man is leaning forward in his chair, as if he’s intent on us getting this point.

1st MAN: I’m a Black African in 1526! My friends and I created the intercontinental slave trade and whites had nothing to do with it!

2nd MAN: Remember that, kids – whites are totally innocent!


A modern-looking boxing ring. There are two boxers in the ring. The one on the left, who doesn’t look very strong, is wearing a royal crown over a white powdered wig, red boxing gloves, and a “Che” t-shirt. The one on the right has red hair, is shirtless (and has huge muscles), has stars-and-bars themed boxing gloves and shorts, and has a giant tattoo covering his back which says “We The People” in the distinctive handwriting of the Declaration of Independence. 

Let’s call them KING GEORGE and THOMAS JEFFERSON. George looks tired, while Thomas looks very energetic and is grinning at us.

KING GEORGE: I’m King George (they/them), here to fight Tom Jefferson!

JEFFERSON: I’m Tom Jefferson! I invented freedom. I’m so kind to my slaves, and did I mention I’m definitely not a rapist?


Abe Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, and Jesus have their arms around each other as they smile out at us. Abe is wearing his signature top hat and holding a can of beer. Jesus has a halo floating over his tricorn hat, is gently glowing all over, and is wearing a yellow “Don’t Tread On Me” t-shirt.

LINCOLN: I’m Abe Lincoln, and I’m a Republican! That’s all you need to know about me.

REAGAN: I’m Abe’s best friend Ronald Reagan!

JESUS: And I’m Jesus! We’re all Republicans!

GOP Approved History | Patreon

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10 Responses to Cartoon: G.O.P. Approved History

  1. 1
    bcb says:

    I love this page!

    I suspect Republican Thomas Jefferson (if he got a bit more screentime) would say something like “All I did was say race is real, and now the wokists are calling me a rapist!”

  2. 2
    Avvaaa says:

    George III as a socialist is one of the funnier parts of right wing American history.

  3. 3
    Dianne says:

    Wait that’s not just Barry being hyperbolic? The right wing really is claiming George III was a socialist?

  4. 4
    Ampersand says:

    As far as I know, that was just a joke I was making. I’m eager to learn more, though. :-)

  5. 5
    Adrian says:

    It’s funny that people are outraged at the idea of King George III being referred to as “they.” In 1776, if you’d asked the man what he did yesterday, he would have answered “We did …,” in the plural. And in 1786, his son (also George) acted in his name, so “What did King George do yesterday?” could reasonably have been answered “They did…”

  6. 6
    Avvaaa says:

    The prevailing American conservative interpretation of the American Revolutionary War is that it was a war against excessive government regulation and administration of business – the same war that conservatives are fighting today. So that makes George III just another in a line of history´s many socialist over-regulators, like Hitler, Stalin, Obama, etc etc.

    (Just to be clear, this is what conservatives believe, not what I believe, don´t @me telling me it´s bullshit, I know it is).

  7. 7
    Brian says:

    There were a number of indentured servants brought over to Virginia. Problem for the racists though was that they were all white Europeans, mostly Irish, Scottish, Welsh or English poor people who sold themselves off (or were sold by their families) to eat or to settle a debt and, eventually, if they lived the seven years, received land.

  8. 8
    nobody.really says:

    Elsewhere in history….

    On the evening of November 5, 1605, British forces captured Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, who was guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Parliament, the British legislature. Thereafter, British citizens have commemorated the plot’s failure with bonfires and fireworks.

    On the evening of November 5, 2024, US citizens will be listening to election returns regarding a candidate who organized an armed assault on America’s national legislature. Hopefully we also will be able to celebrate the defeat of a violent terrorist.

  9. 9
    Dianne says:

    On the evening of November 5, 2024, US citizens will be listening to election returns regarding a candidate who organized an armed assault on America’s national legislature.

    Maybe. I’d even go so far as to say probably. But there is some chance that the Republican nominee will be someone other than the traitor or one of his apologists. It’s technically possible anyway.

  10. 10
    nobody.really says:

    [T]here is some chance that the Republican nominee will be someone other than the traitor or one of his apologists.

    Ok, I was going off-topic before, so why stop now?

    Indeed. In particular, perhaps SCOTUS would find Trump disqualified under the 14th amendment–or at least, authorize enough states to so find that it would render Trump unviable. If the court were inclined to promote the partisan interests of the GOP, I think this is exactly what it should do. (Such a ruling might also be in the interest of the nation or simply mandated by a fair reading of the 14th amendment–but I think it would definitely advance a partisan interest, too.)

    In that case, what do Democrats do? Biden said that he was motivated to run again to guard against a Trump victory. If Trump were dumped, maybe Biden should step aside, too? Ponder….