The Corner

Politics & Policy

‘You Have to Ask Yourself, Where Does It Stop?’

In response to Re: The Limits of Journalists

As it happens, I addressed the question President Trump raised — if you take down Confederate statues and memorials, will you end up knocking down Monticello next? — in a Bloomberg View column earlier today.

Our national mythos has come to celebrate Thomas Jefferson less than it once did: His reputation has suffered, as it should have, as we have reckoned with slavery. We remember Jefferson the slave master; but we also remember the Declaration of Independence, the University of Virginia, a role in our national history that is not reducible to his slaveholding. Jefferson Davis, on the other hand, to this day has a highway with his name on it in Virginia because, and only because, he tried to found a nation with slavery as its cornerstone.

It is certainly true that a subset of the people who want to tear down statues of General Lee will turn to the Founders once they are done. The rest of us shouldn’t deny ourselves the ability to make reasoned distinctions just because they can’t.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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