News that the Connecticut Democratic Party has dropped the names “Jefferson” and “Jackson” from their annual fundraising dinner is being greeted by incredulity from many historians.
The decision immediately drew criticism from some historians as a politically correct overstep, including Robert Turner, a law professor at the University of Virginia, which was founded by Jefferson.
“It is a sad and short-sighted decision based upon tragic ignorance,” said Turner, who has written extensively about Jefferson’s legacy.
This December will mark the 150th anniversary of the enactment of the 13th Amendment of the Constitution, which abolished slavery.
“The authors of that amendment purposely chose language drafted by Jefferson in an unsuccessful effort to outlaw slavery in the Northwest Territories as a means of honoring Jefferson’s struggle against slavery,” Turner said.
“If (Democrats) understood Jefferson’s lifelong opposition to slavery, they would have reached a different conclusion.”
The NAACP is pleased to make Democrats in Connecticut grovel:
Scot X. Esdaile, the head of Connecticut’s NAACP, said it was high time for Democrats to rebrand the event.
“I would applaud the current leaders in Connecticut in making the symbolic first step and striving to right the wrongs of the past,” Esdaile said.
“You can’t right all the wrongs, but I think it’s a symbolic gesture of our support for their party.”
Apparently, Missouri Democrats dropped Jefferson-Jackson last week:
The Connecticut Democratic Party on Wednesday voted to change the name of its Jefferson Jackson Bailey dinner (the Bailey name honors a Connecticut Democrat) after the local NAACP raised concerns about the name, the Connecticut Post reported. Last week, Missouri Democrats voted to change the name of their Jefferson-Jackson dinner to the Harry S. Truman dinner in a nod to the only U.S. president to hail from that state, according to St. Louis Public Radio.
The changes come as Louisiana Democrats prepare to hold their Jefferson-Jackson dinner in New Orleans on July 25, which is being headlined by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. There’s no indication that Democrats have moved to change the name of that dinner — it’s still referred to as either “J-J” or “Jefferson-Jackson” on event websites and the Louisiana Democrats’ website.
But given the movements nationwide and locally to take down Confederate symbols and statues of Confederate Civil War figures, it’s hard to imagine the dinner’s name won’t be a topic of discussion among Democrats this weekend. The party’s leaders did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
I am suffering from outrage fatigue. America’s past — warts and all — is under unprecedented assault and it’s getting harder and harder to get worked up when people act like mini-Stalins and try to whitewash our history.
It’s ironic that the kind of freedom that both Jefferson and Jackson worked for all their lives — putting the individual before the state — is being deliberately undermined by a party that celebrated their names.
Yes, Democrats should take the names Jefferson and Jackson off anything that honors the party. But not because they were slaveholders or killed Native Americans. They should do so because they are unworthy of their legacy of liberty. Those who would subsume the rights of individuals for the “greater good” of the collective aren’t fit to polish the commode of either man.