“A statue of founding father and writer of the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson is sparking debate at the University of Missouri, with some students demanding that the statue be removed over Jefferson’s “offensive” history as a slave owner.” Online article.
A similar thing took place with regard to a statue of Cecil B. Rhodes, the Victorian adventurer.
Yesterday, I wrote about Progress. Some refer to it, I suppose, as political correctness. Were figures from the past sexist and racist? No question. There’s just no way of getting around that. But the urge to remove commemorations of historical figures because you don’t approve of their values, I’m not so sure. As with all things progressive, where do you draw the line and on what grounds? For fear of offending people, we will end up living in a world with nothing but white-washed walls. A kind of modern Puritanism.
A while back, Bomber Harris’ statue was criticized because he was responsible for destroying Dresden during WW2. Should he be removed? I think not. Morality in times of war is notoriously difficult to assess.
As for Jefferson, his case is much clearer. As the author of the Declaration of Independence, he is one of the greatest Americans in history, whose life has affected millions. Worthy of honour, I think.
Feels like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.