You’ve no doubt read the stories of how the ‘city fathers’ (is that sexist?) of Charlottesville, Virginia have dropped their Thomas Jefferson holiday. Why? Need we ask?
This was bound to happen, given that even George Washington has been declared unfit to be honored, as he once was, as the Father of our Country.
So on Unz.com, there is a discussion thread about the Thomas Jefferson situation, and predictably several people are repeating the slanders about Sally Hemings, treating the allegations as established fact. This riles me. Is it wrong to object to one’s ancestors being slandered in this way? It seems to me that the smears are a blot on the whole family line, not to say on Thomas Jefferson himself. Up until a certain impeached president resurrected the scurrilous allegations (back in the 1990s) few people even knew of the rumors — which originated with some of Thomas Jefferson’s political enemies, who happened to be unprincipled and lewd-minded men.
I’ve begun to be cynical enough to believe that anybody who repeats those rumors and calumnies now is also guilty of being lewd-minded, getting some kind of leg-tingle from imagining the scenario. Some people have read too many of the old-fashioned pulp novels about such liaisons, or seen too many sleazy Hollywood films about miscegeny. Otherwise why are they so eager to believe accusations with no proof? I hope those people never sit on juries; we like to think, perhaps too optimistically, that in our country people are reasonable and objective in their judgments, but I wonder.
From all I’ve read of Thomas Jefferson, the supposed relationship between him and Sally would have been greatly out of character for him. I suspect the people who believe him guilty have never learned much about him, never read any of his correspondence and other writings, never read a biography by an old-fashioned, objective historian. Of course he was not a saint but neither was he an exploiter, a liar, or a man of excessive carnal appetites. But in today’s world, everyone is assumed to be lecherous and lewd because that’s the nature of the society we live in, sadly. People today can’t comprehend that it was not always so, that there were once people of integrity, who lived by standards and morals.
It seems I am one of the last to defend his name, at least online, and I like to think I’d do so even were I not connected to him by blood. There was an older gentleman, also a descendant, who used to speak up in Jefferson’s defense on the Internet, but I think he’s no longer with us, so it seems Jefferson has fewer and fewer defenders these days. It’s sad, because it’s also an indication of how traditional America, along with our old standards, our old culture and its symbols, our heroes, and our history, all are under attack if not destroyed. The young like to label anyone who tries to defend the ‘old America’ as a ‘patriotard’ or (depending on age) as a ‘boomertard’ but someone has to speak up, or just passively watch it all crumble before our eyes.
One of the worst losses of the war on old America is the loss of our free speech, the loss of the right to speak our minds freely, even to criticize the powerful. Of course it’s always politically correct to slander our Founding Fathers and our ancestors generally, or to criticize those who are now society’s underdogs, not quite outnumbered yet, but already all but silenced. Thomas Jefferson was a great champion of free speech, and I think he would be greatly grieved to see the America that has replaced the one he and his contemporaries created for us.