Chanting, “No Trump, No KKK, no racist UVa,” and carrying signs which read, “Thomas Jefferson is a racist and a rapist,” radical protesters earlier this week attacked a statue in honor of Jefferson — at the university he founded.
Neither campus police (the statue is university property) nor the Charlottesville police bothered to protect the statue from the demonstrators.
As many have predicted, the ultimate goal with the recent assaults upon Confederate icons such as Robert E. Lee has never been the late Confederate States of America. As I wrote in The New American on September 4, “Once the precedent is established by attacking men that many are afraid to defend, lest they be accused of being “pro-slavery,” or at least “insensitive,” the cultural subverters will then move on to the Founding Fathers — men such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.”
Then, the radicals will chip away at the foundations of the country itself, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, “which will then be disparaged as archaic documents hopelessly tainted by slavery and bigotry.” Once that is accomplished, the cultural Left will propose replacing our Constitution and form of government with a “social democracy,” by which they really mean a Marxist regime.
Interestingly, Jefferson did not even have the fact that he was the third president of the United States on his tombstone. Rather, he considered three other achievements of greater importance — he was the author of the Declaration of Independence, the co-author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and that he was the Founder of the University of Virginia.
One speaker reportedly told the crowd of about 100 demonstrators, “One month ago, we stood on the front lines in downtown Charlottesville as all manner of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and neo-fascists swarmed the area.”
According to Fox News, the rally was called to protest the denial by the university from the Black Student Alliance to ban white supremacists from campus and “remove Confederate plaques on the rotunda.”
The protestors earlier focused on the Confederate General Lee, and now their announced target is Jefferson, but the goals of the radicals was succinctly summarized by one speaker who was not identified in press reports: Claiming they were opposed to “all forms of oppression,” the unnamed speaker said, “We recognize and honor the fact that this resistance was not born 10 months ago, but has actually lived for many years: Communities of color in Charlottesville fighting for affordable housing, for a living wage, for an end to police brutality and state-sanctioned violence, for education for all.” (Emphasis added.)
In other words, their goals have little, if anything to do with what Thomas Jefferson or Robert E. Lee did about two centuries ago, and everything to do with advancing socialist objectives.
And what did Jefferson ever do to deserve his statue being attacked?
For one thing, the unnamed radical speaker libeled the university’s founder as a “racist” — likely because he had held slaves. But though Jefferson was a slaveowner, he favored the gradual abolishment of slavery, a forward-thinking and humanitarian concept at the time. His accusers also deemed him a “rapist.” This is based on the unproven and unlikely charge that Jefferson carried on a sexual relationship with a slave woman, Sally Hemings. Even the Fox News report, while crediting Jefferson with working to “gradually end slavery,” lazily reported, “Historians now believe the former president had a relationship” with Hemings, who was a slave at Monticello.
As I wrote in one chapter of my book, History’s Greatest Libels, this is simply not proven, and is highly unlikely. Citing unnamed “historians” is not evidence of anything. Like everyone else who has accepted this libel — that Jefferson had sexual relations with a slave — the historians have heard about “DNA evidence” that supposedly proves it.
Actually, the DNA evidence specifically disproved that Jefferson fathered Sally’s first child, Thomas Woodson — a child whom DNA findings indicated was fathered by an unnamed Caucasian (with no links to Jefferson) while she was in France taking care of Jefferson’s children. (They have many Caucasians in France who could have fathered the child.)
No DNA from Jefferson himself even exists. The DNA used in the 1998 study was from an uncle of Thomas Jefferson, and the findings indicated that one of Sally Hemings’ sons, Eston Hemings, was fathered by a “Jefferson male.” (It could not have been Jefferson’s uncle, Field Jefferson, as he was already deceased by the time Eston would have been conceived).
But the DNA studies do not prove Thomas Jefferson was his father, as there were other members of the Jefferson family who could have fathered the child (such as Jefferson’s brother, who was at Monticello at the time of the child’s conception).
Doctor Eugene Foster, who conducted the DNA tests, later wrote that he was “embarrassed” by the way the media reported the findings. The genetic findings, Foster said, “Do not prove that Thomas Jefferson was the father of one of Sally Hemings’ children.… We have never made that claim.”
He added, “My experience with this matter so far tells me that no matter how often I repeat it, it will not stop the media from saying what they want in order to increase their circulation.… I am angered by it.”
All Americans who value accurate history should be angered by it, too. Because of slip-shod reporting, this libel against the author of the Declaration of Independence is now used by radical leftists to call him a “rapist,” and by doing so, strike at the foundations of the country.
In the end, the radicals at Charlottesville are really not after Robert E. Lee or Thomas Jefferson, but rather our very form of government — a constitutional republic, which they wish to replace with some variation of Marxist socialism.
Steve Byas is the author of History’s Greatest Libels, in which challenges unfair accusations made against others in history, including Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Marie Antoinette, and Joseph McCarthy.