The Corner

History

Sadly, Our History Is for Sale

The Jefferson Monument in Washington, D.C., August 5, 2021 (Brent Buterbaugh/National Review)

In this Law & Liberty essay, lawyer Mark Pulliam writes about the ways that leftists are taking over America’s history, specifically sites such as Jefferson’s home, Monticello and Madison’s home, Montpelier. His title reads, “Is History for Sale?” and the clear answer is yes. Wealthy “progressives” who want to show their superior virtue (the new conspicuous consumption) have put lots of money into “recontextualizing” those and other places.

Pulliam writes that, “My overall impression of Montpelier is that the juxtaposition of slavery and the life of James Madison was intended to tarnish his remarkable achievements while simultaneously promoting the cause of identity politics. The message seemed to be that the Founding Fathers were not heroes, but flawed men who preached about liberty and equality but failed to live up to those principles. Or, even worse, that Madison’s remarkable contributions were no greater than the toil of the enslaved people at Montpelier. This may be familiar grist in a college history class, but did tourists travel from across the country for such a scolding?”

And at Monticello, visitors find a lot of leftist propaganda by writers such as Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo. Those books have nothing to do with Monticello, but they are part of the leftist project of besmirching America.

I like Pulliam’s conclusion: “Slavery happened in America, just as it had throughout recorded history, around the globe (and still exists in some places). It ended here following a bloody, costly Civil War, over 150 years ago. Must all of our Founding Fathers’ accomplishments be forever diminished — even negated — by a preoccupation with this unfortunate aspect of our history? The Founders’ ideals ultimately prevailed, a triumph that warrants celebration, not atonement. America is a great country, possibly the greatest of all time. Her story, fairly told, should instill a sense of pride, not grievance or self-hatred.”

What is the point of this? I think it is to pave the way for an even bigger government, charged with the impossible task of bringing about “equity.” The more people can be made to loathe America, the more they will support the statists who say that they can make everything fine, as long as they have unlimited power.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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