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Culture Beat / Nov. 16, 2016

'Tolerant' Academia Seeks to Purge Jefferson

If moral superiority is their only goal, they're in for a rude awakening.

There’s a war brewing at the University of Virginia (UV) against one of America’s chief architects, Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence penman and founder of UV. According to The Daily Signal’s Jarrett Stepman, Jefferson “had such high hopes for the school that he wrote of the students toward the end of his life, ‘they will exhibit their country in a degree of sound respectability it has never known, either in our days, or in the days of our forefathers. I cannot live to see it. My joy must only be that of anticipation.’”

He would be saddened to learn of today’s emotionally driven and cognitively handicapped students who can’t reason with Jefferson’s (and virtually every other Founder’s) history as a slave holder. In fact, they can’t even tolerate his being quoted. Following the Nov. 8 election, UV President Teresa Sullivan wrote, “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.”

Naturally, that reference to Jefferson — who we’ll again remind you founded the school — elicited a firestorm. Shortly after receiving Sullivan’s letter, 469 co-signers, both students and professors alike, cobbled together a protest letter, stating:

“We would like for our administration to understand that although some members of this community may have come to this university because of Thomas Jefferson’s legacy, others of us came here in spite of it. For many of us, the inclusion of Jefferson quotations in these e-mails undermines the message of unity, equality and civility that you are attempting to convey.”

If moral superiority is these snowflakes’ only goal, they’re in for a rude awakening. The Signal’s Stepman put it best: “When does this war on American history stop? If every figure must be held up to the constantly evolving values of the times, we will eventually find that we’ve purged all of the good along with the bad elements of what made this country what it is. We may even find that tomorrow, we are the ones being erased from history.” Here’s a radical idea: How about not enrolling in a school whose founder you detest? That would be the far more tolerant response.

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