One would think the legacy of an early American hero – a Founding Father – would be secure in his hometown, spared from the scourge of political correctness afflicting social justice activists (SJAs) today. But, sadly, SJA city council members in Charlottesville, Virginia, voted to eliminate Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, April 13, as a paid holiday, lamenting over our third president being a slave owner. A new holiday, March 3, the day Union soldiers entered the city in 1865 during the Civil War, has been designated to celebrate the emancipation of slaves instead.
This decision was undoubtedly prompted by an SJA need to revisit Jefferson’s history in the wake of the violent August 2017 racial confrontation in Charlottesville that killed an innocent protester. But if historical research was done on Jefferson, it failed to recognize his own role as an SJA.
One would have hoped a voice would have spoken out in Charlottesville against the council’s initiative. After all, the city is the situs of a highly regarded public university, the University of Virginia, founded in 1819 by Jefferson who sought “to advance human knowledge, educate leaders and cultivate an informed citizenry.” The fact little opposition was heard is disappointing. Seemingly ignored was evidence of Jefferson’s true anti-slavery sentiments – including verbiage in his original draft of the Declaration of Independence.
History tells us while Jefferson lived at a time the dignity and equality of all human life was not recognized, the future president swam against that current. This was evidenced by his courage in including in his original early summer 1776 draft an anti-slavery passage unpopular with fellow delegates. It generated an intense debate, ultimately resulting in the Declaration’s most important passage being removed.
Jefferson’s passage condemned slavery. But with the colonies struggling to build a solid economy, the economic engine driving that struggle was fueled by slaves. Those opposing Jefferson’s passage obviously believed any such statement incorporated into the Declaration might stimulate domestic unrest among slaves at a time the colonies would have their hands full dealing with Britain.
Decades later, Jefferson blamed removal of the passage on delegates from South Carolina and Georgia, as well as Northern delegates representing merchants actively engaged in the slave trade. Known as “The Deleted Passage,” its wording left no doubt about Jefferson’s sentiments:
“He (King George) has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where Men should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce. …”
Jefferson twice attempted to emancipate slaves by legislation – in 1769 with the Virginia legislature and in 1784 with the Continental Congress. In 1808, as president, he signed a law banning slave trade with Africa. He was unable to free his own slaves upon his death in 1826, as George Washington had done, because the law required an owner be debt free. Jefferson, who died with substantial debt and owning approximately 200 slaves, was only able to free two during his lifetime.
Sadly, the Charlottesville city council’s naivete in lowering the profile of an early anti-slavery activist by failing to know the real Thomas Jefferson is just one example of SJAs gone wrong. Driven by a desire to act rather than exercise logic, others have embarrassed themselves by failing to grasp a target’s history beforehand.
In 2017, the fascist “anti-fascist” movement antifa targeted a “pro-Confederate” statue, erected in 1911 in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. It turned out not to be a pro-Confederate statue but a Peace Monument. While a Confederate soldier was part of the sculpture, it also featured an angel standing above him, guiding him to lay down his weapon. Realizing national healing was still needed 46 years after the Civil War’s end, surviving soldiers “took up the cause for reconciliation” to build it. They recognized 108 years ago what SJAs prove incapable of recognizing today.
Whether to educate antifa or assist them, CNN outrageously published a list of 1,500 monuments and statues as more acceptable targets.
In 2018, 21st century SJAs wishing to hold 19th century American leaders accountable for embracing slavery set out to destroy a statue of Confederate Army Gen. Robert E. Lee. Locating one in Dunn, North Carolina, activists sprayed it with a flammable liquid and set it on fire. However, the statue they damaged was not that of the Confederate general but of a World War II hero and hometown boy, Maj. Gen. William C. Lee, who had founded the U.S. Army Airborne.
Maj. Gen. Lee’s statue stood outside a museum bearing his name. Had SJAs bothered educating themselves beforehand, they would have discovered their error – unless naively believing the two generals were related and thus defiling it kept it “all in the family.”
Another SJA reluctant to do his history homework is flag-kneeler Colin Kaepernick. He recently shut down sales of a Nike shoe bearing the Betsy Ross flag. Ross was a Quaker – a group credited in 1688 with making the first recorded protest against slavery.
As one critic of statue defacers noted, “Make no mistake, whether you care about history or monuments or not, this effort is not coming from a good place and is not headed in a safe direction.”
Normally, those unable to accept reality, clamoring to erase our history, are called “snowflakes.” However, the mainstream media now inform us the term is pejorative. Avoiding that term, perhaps a more acceptable one is “Individuals Displaying Intelligence Of Triggered Sensitivity.” This, then, would appropriately mandate using the acronym “IDIOTS” instead.
Thus, reflecting upon Jefferson’s fate and the statues above, we need ask ourselves whether we really want our history left to be edited by IDIOTS so easily offended.