Having successfully taken down monuments to those notable defenders of slavery Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Frederick Douglass, the outraged mob of our Leftist moral superiors has now prevailed against a lesser light of the bad old, not yet “fundamentally transformed” America. The College Fix reported Tuesday that “the University at Buffalo will be removing former U.S. President Millard Fillmore’s name from campus, citing ‘systemic racism’ and his support of the Compromise of 1850.”
This will require the renaming of the Millard Fillmore Academic Center, “which contains several academic departments, student dormitories, a theater, and other services,” and which “will now be referred to as simply the Academic Center.”
In this case, the mob behind this latest act of historical vandalism is made up of university administrators, who announced that “#UBuffalo will remove the names Millard Fillmore, James O. Putnam and Peter B. Porter from four locations at UB, a decision that aligns with the university’s commitment to fight systemic racism and create a welcoming environment for all.” UB President Satish Tripathi said: “Clearly, historical namings on our campus—whether academic buildings, residential halls, interior spaces or thoroughfares—carry important symbolic value. We want to ensure that these symbols align with our mission—namely, that we are a diverse, inclusive scholarly community.”
Tripathi either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the fact that Fillmore actually said: “God knows that I detest slavery, but it is an existing evil, for which we are not responsible, and we must endure it, till we can get rid of it without destroying the last hope of free government in the world.” Despite this, however, as President of the United States, he signed the Fugitive Slave Act, a law requiring antislavery Northerners to return escaped slaves to their owners in the South.
Fillmore did this not because he thought slavery was wonderful, but because he was constrained, as all presidents are, by the political exigencies of the day. And despite the Fugitive Slave Law, which was widely ignored in the North, UB political science Professor James Campbell contends that Fillmore’s presidency was actually not bereft of benefits even for black Americans. Said Campbell: “The nation was better off because of Fillmore’s service as president—and that includes the black Americans who were not traded as slaves in DC because of the Compromise, the black Americans who were not held as slaves in southern California because of California’s admission as a free state because of the Compromise, and the black Americans not held in slavery because the western boundaries of the slave state of Texas were greatly reduced because of the Compromise. Most of all, the North was in a stronger position to win the Civil War and end slavery ten years later because of Fillmore’s support for the Compromise. None of this would have happened without Fillmore taking the stand he did. And how do we show our gratitude? It’s not right.”
Poor Fillmore. It isn’t enough that he detested slavery and did what he could within the parameters of his time to limit slavery and ultimately end it. He is to be damned to historical oblivion because in doing so, he made concessions to the slave power, and that has earned him the hatred of today’s historically illiterate campus Leftists, who would only leave the Millard Fillmore Academic Center alone if Fillmore had declared himself a woke intersectional feminist, come out as trans, and painted “Black Lives Matter” on the White House lawn.
These people have no knowledge of, or no interest in, the fact that what is taken for granted as morally axiomatic today is in part the result of a long period of development. Nor are they aware, or they don’t care, that not everyone in every time and place has agreed on every detail of ethics or morality. Above all, they don’t know or care that slavery was a feature of every human society from the beginning of time until the British and the Americans, influenced by the principle of Christianity (a religion these woke barbarians despise) that every human being is equal in dignity before God, began to move to eradicate it. They have no clue about the fact that the people of Millard Fillmore’s time would be just as aghast about some of their practices that they take for granted as good and right as today’s woke fascists are about slavery.
The Leftists wants you ashamed of your history. The academic Left has been working for decades to replace genuine American history with a farrago of tendentious nonsense designed to make Americans embarrassed to be American. Howard Zinn’s history of the United States and the 1619 Project are just two of these efforts. Those whom they have thoroughly propagandized will have no objection to their plan to “fundamentally transform” America. What one does not value, one will not defend.
There is an antidote to the Left’s assault on our history. Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster is an evaluation of the Presidents of the U.S. from an America-First standpoint, and a brisk reminder of what has made America great. When the authoritarians, totalitarians, and fascists are attacking our history, it’s all the more important that we know and cherish that history.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 21 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look at Who Is Best, Who Is Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.