The Thomas Jefferson Memorial, which has stood near the banks of the Potomac River in Washington for more than 70 years, is a classical tribute to the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third U.S. president.
So now there are prominent and public voices calling the removal of the Jefferson Memorial. What a disappointing and alarming time we live in. It seems that only people with such glib and incoherent world views qualify these days to be news anchors on CNN or public figures in the mass media. CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield suggests that “because Jefferson owned slaves” he is unworthy of the honor our public monuments bestow upon him. Fellow CNN anchor Don Lemon joined in support saying that he’d like to see that debate. That these people pass off as intellectuals is nonsensical. Sure, they’re intelligent – but so what. Intelligent people employed as public figures who refuse to develop coherent views are like doctors who serve poison to their patients so that they have something to cure.
To be “glib” means to sound smooth and polished, but to lack depth and substance in what one says or thinks. That is the world we live in, and how evil is often dished out in seeming innocuous doses.
The “glib” idea, growing in popular acceptance, is that if a person (like Jefferson, or Washington or Madison) owned a slave – everything is out, their credibility, their legacy, their intellectual body of work – all worthless. (Remember the recent Ben Affleck incident?) But this is not only shallow – its evil. It masks the truth about how freedom came to the United States, how freedom particularly came to the slaves (and how the United States came to be the most powerful influence for ensuring that global slavery was essentially eradicated for the first time in modern history).
Jefferson once wrote to Jean Peirre Brissot de Warvill in 1788 “You know that nobody wishes more ardently to see an abolition not only of the trade but of the condition of slavery” and in Notes of Virginia he wrote “Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever” with regards to the problem of slavery in America. But pretend intellectuals gloss over these things by pointing out apparent contradictions and exceptions – such as the fact that he owned slaves. But they do this without examining why, how, and in what context – as if none of this has any meaning. Ignoring context, and digging forever – to find exceptions and apparent contradictions is like accusing a valiant and patriotic soldier of murder for principled conduct during war-time. Using this logic, Moses could not be a prophet and does not deserve reverence or honor because of his role in drowning of Pharaoh and his Six Hundred Chariots with “captains over every one of them.” See Exodus 14:27-28. Now, the glib “intellectual” will squirm at the comparison by pointing out that Pharaoh was guilty and evil and this is a false comparison to slavery and the innocence of African Americans and the guilt of white men like Jefferson, Washington and Madison. But that’s the point, if context is important in understanding Moses, then context is important in understanding Jefferson – and it requires we actually look at the context.
For example, why did Jefferson pen “All men are created equal”? What was Jefferson’s role in working with Madison on the slave question? What was Jefferson’s view and towards his “slaves” and others? When this context is considered, Jefferson becomes a hero to black man and white alike. It is evil to call a man evil who was good, and to call a man good who was evil – increasingly we live in a world where talking heads seek to tear down all connections to America’s virtuous path with contextless references to sensational circumstances – while at the same time advocating for the most immoral and evil collectivism the world has ever known.
In this regard, lovers of freedom must wake up, and turn their brains on – its not enough to ignore these numbskulls, we’ve got to be able to rationally, intelligently, and passionately confront them, expose them, and intellectually defeat them while we advocate successfully (and strategically) for liberty.
Reference: Learn the 13 Principles of Prosperity, for free (link is to SoundCloud).