Saturday, December 01, 2012

Revisionist History

Thomas Jefferson was a monster, at least according to some yahoo writing an op-ed in the New York Times.  Go read it for yourself.

I'm not going to argue against his specifics.  What I'll ask, though, is if someone's faults must overshadow their achievements?  Does Jefferson's personal embrace of slavery, and the wealth it brought him, negate the good he accomplished in 1776 or 1787?  If you want to be fashionable and bash the Founders, I ask you to consider this comment:
I'll wait for the NYT expose on FDR as a racist hypocrite too.

After all, he personally only allowed African Americans to serve in subservient positions as valets, maids and waiters. Didn't pay them a fair wage either. He had no problem interning his own citizens of Japanese descent because of the way they looked. He refused to allow the races to mix in military service. The only reason this 1%er didn't have slaves was a Republican took the opportunity away from him.

Considering FDR had 175 years of history to review and learn from he certainly should have known better. Obviously FDR was a much worse racist than Jefferson.

I won't hold my breath for that article though. Reviewing history through a contemporary lens is immoral sport for the idle classes with nothing better to do than tear down their betters, often from the comfort of tenure.
We can crucify anyone if we want to.  Heck, Nelson Mandela and Dr. King cheated on their wives!  Such paragons of virtue!  Do their faults, and let's include Jefferson in the list, overshadow their accomplishments?  Probably not.  Do they taint them, or at least show these men to be human?  Of course.

It's not the knowledge, the search for truth that I object to.  It's the willful attempt at destruction--not of some mythical Jefferson, but of the ideals that Jefferson put forth.  That he himself didn't live up to those ideals doesn't make them any less valuable to us.

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