University of Virginia Students Turn on Founder – Thomas Jefferson
University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan, knowing the political and ideological makeup of the student body, wrote a memo to them last week, reminding them that the election of Donald Trump provided them with an opportunity to embrace their role in our democracy. To do so, she called upon the words of President Thomas Jefferson, who not only helped construct the United States but also founded the school they currently attend.
“By coincidence, on this exact day 191 years ago – November 9, 1825, in the first year of classes at U.Va. – Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend that University of Virginia students ‘are not of ordinary significance only: they are exactly the persons who are to succeed to the government of our country, and to rule its future enmities, its friendships and fortunes.’ I encourage today’s U.Va. students to embrace that responsibility,” she wrote.
Students, however, were not comforted by Sullivan’s measured approach; in fact, it inspired them to take their animosity against the President-elect and turn it towards one of the nation’s founders. More than 400 students and faculty members signed their names to an open letter which maligned Jefferson:
We are incredibly disappointed in the use of Thomas Jefferson as a moral compass. Thomas Jefferson owned hundreds of slaves. Other memorable Jefferson quotes include that Blacks are “inferior to the whites in the endowments of body and mind,” and “as incapable as children of taking care of themselves.” Though we realize that some members of our university community may be inspired by quotes from Jefferson, we also realize that many of us are deeply offended by attempts on behalf of our administration to guide our moral behavior through their use.
Conservatives with a rich understanding of history will find these comments shocking and deeply misguided. Conservatives with a rich understanding of the modern left, though, will not be surprised. Today’s extremist liberals – who are becoming increasingly mainstream – have turned their backs on this country’s founding and all the men who made it what it is.
But their gripes with the leaders and choices of yesterday can even be found in the smallest details and the most recent Democratic Party representatives. For as much as there is to dislike about Bill and Hillary Clinton, for instance, it’s baffling to watch LGBT militants criticize them for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which was, at the time, a major step forward for their own gay-rights movement. Similarly, they hold the men and women of the 1700s to the standards of 2016.
It’s easy (and fun!) to mock these people. It makes it easier to dismiss their hysterical reaction to the election.
On the other hand, we are looking at a growing number of young Americans who seem completely unable to think for themselves. And the implications of that are not fun or funny.