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Old 03-31-2005, 05:00 AM   #1 (permalink)
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What can I say....

This is where political correctness takes us. This country seems to get pinker everyday. It's sad. Though some may think that PCness is a good thing, can we at least agree that this example is a bit over the top??


Posted on Fri, Mar. 11, 2005
By Eric Kurhi

Thomas Jefferson's John Hancock could soon be a thing of the past at the Berkeley elementary school that bears his name.

About two years after a group of teachers and parents started a petition, the school community is nearing a vote that will decide whether to keep the old name or change it to something newer and potentially less offensive.

"It's an awkward position to ask African-American children and African-American teachers to celebrate a historical figure who was a slave-owner," said Marguerite Hughes, who teaches first grade at the school and was part of the original group pushing for the name change.

Hughes said that at first, a group of teachers wanted to rename the cafeteria, which is called the Cafetorium. But as they looked into it, they realized that the same steps had to be taken to change the name of one building as for renaming the whole school.

"And many people weren't comfortable with the name Jefferson," Hughes said.

That was the beginning of what Principal Betty Delaney called an "Olympic process that is just now coming to an end."

They have just completed the nomination period for a new name. A list of names will come out next week. By the end of the month, the number of potential names will be whittled down to one contender slated to run against the third president of the United States.

Parents, teachers and students will all vote, and all votes will be considered equal.

Thomas Jefferson lived from 1743 to 1826. He inherited 5,000 acres in Virginia 's Albemarle County from his father, a planter and surveyor. He was president from 1801-1809, following George Washington and John Adams.

Jefferson's name has become controversial in some circles because of the 150 slaves he owned at his estate, Monticello. Critics usually admit that this was to be expected of a man of his social and economic class --Washington and most other prominent Southerners also owned slaves -- but they argue that a forward-thinking man would not have held humans in bondage, especially not the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence.

For Mark Simmons, who has a daughter at the school, his opposition to the name change isn't so much a question of American history as his own.

"I just get nostalgic -- I love my alma mater," he said.

Simmons bought the house he grew up in from his father, and would like to see his daughter go to the same school he went to -- in name as well as place.

"I went to King Jr. High and my uncle used to ask me, 'How's Garfield?' I never had a clue what he was talking about," he said.

James Garfield Middle School was renamed to honor Martin Luther King Jr. shortly after his assassination.

More recently, Abraham Lincoln Elementary became Malcolm X, and Christopher Columbus lost more than his holiday in Berkeley -- his namesake school was rebuilt as Rosa Parks Elementary in the late '90s after some impassioned discussion. Not over whether to change the name, but whether to rename it after Rosa Parks or Cesar Chavez.

But at Jefferson, Chris Hudson, who is on an advisory committee for the name change, said things have gone fairly smoothly. He said they tried to make the process as fair and open as possible, and that what he thought was a potentially divisive process has been remarkably calm.

"Whatever happens, we'll still all be parents, teachers and students at the end of the day," Hudson said.
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Old 03-31-2005, 05:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I really don't care, either way. If they want to change the name, let them change it.
 
Old 03-31-2005, 06:20 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Agreed..........pointless pondering of political PC propoganda

Pass
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Old 03-31-2005, 06:23 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by NCB
This country seems to get pinker everyday.
"Pinker"? I first read that as a red/blue state thing, but the article didn't match that interpretation. We just had a discussion in another thread about pink (Help engineer the english language (well, one word of it)), and certainly none of those meanings apply to this thread. Honestly, I don't know how pink=PC.

But back to the article, I will agree that this seems extreme. Slave holding is abhorrent now, but it was a cultural norm at the time. Also, no one is pointing out that Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration of Independence had a "free the slaves" clause in it.
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Old 03-31-2005, 06:42 AM   #5 (permalink)
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1984 is here

WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

Double think is getting ridiculous these days. FEMA and other federal law enforcement agencies are actually teaching that the founding fathers were terrorists, and people that make numerous references to the Constitution and Bill of Rights could be terrorists.
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Old 03-31-2005, 06:46 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Four replies, and not a single one addresses the issue.
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Old 03-31-2005, 06:53 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by tecoyah
Agreed..........pointless pondering of political PC propoganda

Pass
Amazed at the awesome application of alliteration about above arguement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Redlemon
Also, no one is pointing out that Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration of Independence had a "free the slaves" clause in it.
I think nobody points that out because he still kept slaves, and did not free them during his life. And that clause didn't make his final draft. Personally, I think that makes Jefferson worse, not better. It shows he might have thought slavery wrong, but held slaves anyways. At least most slaveowners might have not personally believed themselves to be in the wrong, whereas Jefferson did something he knew wrong.
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Old 03-31-2005, 07:03 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by NCB
Four replies, and not a single one addresses the issue.
No, I believe I replied to the issue. If I didn't, please fill me in on what the issue is. I thought it was political correctness.

Anyway I'll try to elaborate on the issue further. I think it's completely disgusting that they want to change the name of institutions that make references to our founding fathers. Without their courage to stand up to tyranny we wouldn't have the great country we have today.

Yes some of them owned slaves which was wrong (the opression that they felt from Britain was similar to the opression they gave to the slaves), and they killed people to get their independence. Owning slaves should not outweigh their fight for independence.
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Old 03-31-2005, 07:03 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by alansmithee
It shows he might have thought slavery wrong, but held slaves anyways. At least most slaveowners might have not personally believed themselves to be in the wrong, whereas Jefferson did something he knew wrong.
Nice take.


It's a tough call to say that ignorance to soemthing is better than knowing something is worng but doing it anyways.
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Old 03-31-2005, 07:10 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Personally, I think that makes Jefferson worse, not better. It shows he might have thought slavery wrong, but held slaves anyways. At least most slaveowners might have not personally believed themselves to be in the wrong, whereas Jefferson did something he knew wrong.
The only reason slavery isn't abolished in the Constitution is because the colonies still needed the Southern states for their great natural resources and crops. To abolish slavery at that time would have caused the ratification of the Constitution to become only a dream. Instead, it is a prime example of compromise made by all states in order to hold the Union together.

To quote Ben Franklin, a slave owner:
Quote:
"Slavery is such an atrocious debasement of human nature, that its very extirpation, if not performed with solicitous care, may sometimes open a source of serious evils."
and, for you alansmithee, Thomas Jefferson's actual words (not your commentary):
Quote:
"There must doubtless be an unhappy influence on the manners of our people produced by the existence of slavery among us. The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other. Our children see this, and learn to imitate it; for man is an imitative animal. This quality is the germ of all education in him."
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Old 03-31-2005, 07:11 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NCB
Four replies, and not a single one addresses the issue.
I think you are reading selectively, or are looking for something that you didn't ask for. You asked "Though some may think that PCness is a good thing, can we at least agree that this example is a bit over the top??" I see answers to that question in at least three of the four responses.

And you still didn't explain "pinker".
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Old 03-31-2005, 07:12 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Redlemon
I think you are reading selectively, or are looking for something that you didn't ask for. You asked "Though some may think that PCness is a good thing, can we at least agree that this example is a bit over the top??" I see answers to that question in at least three of the four responses.

And you still didn't explain "pinker".
Weak, spineless, ect...

There are far more controversial phrases I coulda used, but that's not what this place is about. "Pinker" got my point across just fine.
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Old 03-31-2005, 07:15 AM   #13 (permalink)
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It's a tough call to say that ignorance to soemthing is better than knowing something is worng but doing it anyways.
Slavery was an integral part of the early colonial economy. Eliminate slavery and you eliminate your fledgling, infant country. It was in the best interest of everyone (well, except the slaves) that it not be abolished at that time.
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Old 03-31-2005, 07:31 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Here's the original paragraph from the Declaration of Independence:
Quote:
He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, & murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another...
There's a lot of interesting followup discussion on that page. My favorite part is:
Quote:
John Adams, when reluctantly conceding to the demands od South Carolina and the rest of the southern delegation at the Second Continental Congress, was to have said that "We will be fighting a war over this issue some 100 years from now." It was a prophetic quote to be sure.
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Old 03-31-2005, 07:34 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold
Also, on kind of a side note, the ratified Constitution barred the import of new slaves after 1808. Which is a major cop out on their part, but nonetheless they put it into the new colonial Constitution. So it's not that the Constitution avoids the subject of slavery all together, it just makes less of an issue out of it and puts the burden of abolition on future generations.
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Old 03-31-2005, 08:15 AM   #16 (permalink)
 
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1. i do not know what you mean by pc---it seems to me a term that has been reduced to nothing by endless repetition.
2. i do not see what your problem is with the story
it turns on problems raised by an awareness of jefferson as human being as over against jefferson as Mythic Founding Father. the question of slave-holding comes up through this. are you advocating less awareness of history? are you assuming that, in questions where history and myth collide, that everyone should choose myth?

it seems to me that if anyone is running a pc-style line on this, it is you, ncb, in that you present this curious story about the local political consequences of a population realizing that there might be a problem with the name of that school as a function of factual information about jefferson as a human being and seem to hold it up to ridicule.

or is the problem that you oppose grassroots mobilizations that are not dominated by conservatives?

or would you prefer that the history of the united states be whitewashed?
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Old 03-31-2005, 09:02 AM   #17 (permalink)
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It seems to me that if anyone is "whitewashing", it's this group.

History is what it is.

Most if not all wealthy Southern landowners held slaves, as has been pointed out numerous times.

European countries ruthlessly exploited the "new world" territories discovered even as many of the indiginous tribes exhibited their own forms of brutality, such as human sacrifice.

Do we stop admiring Jefferson or Columbus or the Native Americans because of it?

Of course not.

But many on the left insist we do (except it is ok to admire the indians because they aren't white).

Seriously, I am tired of this freudian exercise in self loathing.
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Old 03-31-2005, 09:21 AM   #18 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
History is what it is.
speaking as a professional historian, lebel, let me tell you that this sentiment is just a sentiment: it has no relation to how histories are produced, what they do, etc.

Quote:
Most if not all wealthy Southern landowners held slaves, as has been pointed out numerous times.
so therefore slavery was fine.
sorry, my mistake: i foolishly thought that people in 2005 were in a position to evaluate actions undertaken in different contexts along lines particular to 2005.

this question of slavery, its ethical implications, its history and the effects of that history--all of this should not be addressed.

to do so is an exercize in "self loathing"?

what are you actually advocating, lebel?

Quote:
European countries ruthlessly exploited the "new world" territories discovered even as many of the indiginous tribes exhibited their own forms of brutality, such as human sacrifice.
so are you saying that this exploitation was ok because lots of people indulged it?
is this how you make evaluations of what came to be the early phases of a genocide?
is this how you think about genocide in general--everything is ok if enough people go along with it?

wait--the question involves self-loathing--genocide is carried out by other people--when the americans do it, it is manifest destiny--which is ordained by god--so therefore the repeated massacres of native americans from the 18th century through wounded knee--all ok.


Quote:
Do we stop admiring Jefferson or Columbus or the Native Americans because of it?
no obviously not--not for you at least--because you have no interest in history--you prefer nationalist mythology. your choice, of course.

Quote:
But many on the left insist we do (except it is ok to admire the indians because they aren't white).
because you prefer nationalist mythology to history and its messiness, but cant really defend the position (how would you?) it follows that you would find a way to posit "your history" (of "white people"------do you really believe this?) as some kind of victim (of what?)


Quote:
Seriously, I am tired of this freudian exercise in self loathing.
because confronting an often appalling history is not helpful for the mission of moral uplift that history should serve?

i do not see how this position, lebel, which often wafts from conservatives from gingrich onward--those masters of the history as national bildungsroman--behind which there hide so many conceptual and political problems that it is hard to know where to start even--is defensable at any level.

if you can run away from the past, it must be easier to run away from the present.
maybe that's it.

what matters is that conservatives can anchor their sense of being in the present by linking it to a wholly fictitious account of the past. that way they feel good about themselves--an emphasis that you hear criticized continually on conservative talk shows etc. as an element of "liberal educational philosophy"--which is presumably, following this same logic, tied to weakness of character.
how to you justify mapping this onto history? or the heroic myth of national construction undertaken by a series of decontextualized white men (which would perhaps for you be the same thing)?
how is this any different?
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Old 03-31-2005, 10:59 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Fourtyrulz
The only reason slavery isn't abolished in the Constitution is because the colonies still needed the Southern states for their great natural resources and crops. To abolish slavery at that time would have caused the ratification of the Constitution to become only a dream. Instead, it is a prime example of compromise made by all states in order to hold the Union together.


and, for you alansmithee, Thomas Jefferson's actual words (not your commentary):
My "commentary" is based on Thomas Jefferson's actions, not his words. If I run around saying how bad murder is, wax poetically about the sanctity of life and how evil murder is, and all the while I am a serial killer do my fancy words somehow make my deeds go away? Again, by showing how much Jefferson wrote that slavery was wrong makes it even worse that he kept slaves. You further go to say that the nation's early economy was dependant on slavery. I think that to be largely true. But was Jefferson personally dependant on slavery? Again, as I said before others might not have thought it wrong, but we have numerous examples where Jefferson does say slavery is wrong, yet he held slaves. At best he was a spineless hypocrite, at worst a blatant liar. I don't see how he could be seen any other way (at least on the issue of slavery, he unarguably was a champion of freedom in regards to rich, white, male landowners 21+ in America).
-----

And more on topic to the original post, I don't see them renaming the school as that shocking, or suprising. Honestly, they'll probably end up naming it the Trotsky School of the Proletariat or the Usama Bin Laden Freedom Fighter Facility, neither would suprise me. Nothing that happens on the left coast suprises me anymore.

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Old 03-31-2005, 11:21 AM   #20 (permalink)
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I don't see how he could be seen any other way.
There lies your difficulty. If you can't even understand my viewpoint, can you really argue against it? I fully understand your point of the view on the matter, and am really just trying to clear things up.

Quote:
Again, by showing how much Jefferson wrote that slavery was wrong makes it even worse that he kept slaves.
I think this is beyond the point I was trying to make in my earlier post. Jefferson and other founders understood that slavery was an essential part of the union, which they desired to see succeed more than anything, and they were willing to compromise their own values for the good of the union. This isn't the only example, and that's the glorious part of the Constitution.

Quote:
But was Jefferson personally dependant on slavery?
None of us can say for certain (at least I can't) but I my opinion would be that yes he was dependent on slave labor, just like the vast majority of the country at the time. In fact I think only 3 of the smallest colonies, Delaware comes to mind, were "free" states. While Jefferson and Franklin relied on black slaves for their livelyhood (who else would take care of their estates while they were gone?) they also championed for their freedom. Hypocritical to keep slaves and speak out against slavery, sure, but there were bigger fish to fry at the time...like securing the new colonial Constitution and in doing so guaranteeing a better union.
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Old 03-31-2005, 11:29 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by roachboy
speaking as a professional historian, lebel, let me tell you that this sentiment is just a sentiment: it has no relation to how histories are produced, what they do, etc.
I stand by my statement.

Certain events happened. This is not up for discussion or interpretation. What we can discuss is the meaning of certain events and how they interacted to produce subsequent events.

Even a professional historian should know that.

Quote:
so therefore slavery was fine.
sorry, my mistake: i foolishly thought that people in 2005 were in a position to evaluate actions undertaken in different contexts along lines particular to 2005.
Please don't be offensive when making your argument. At that time, to a large portion of the populace, slavery was fine. There were many arguments that supported that position, arguments which we have ultimately rejected, but not without cost.

Quote:

this question of slavery, its ethical implications, its history and the effects of that history--all of this should not be addressed.
No, no and no. Again, I've said NONE of this. But what you just stated, has nothing IMO to do with the original article. Changing the name of Thomas Jefferson Highschool to something else is nothing short of re-writing something that was a contentious issue 200 years ago in light of what we believe today. To make such a totalistic judgement on him based on this one issue (which again, was contentious at the time) borders on a criminal disservice to the contributions he made to our history, for which he rightly deserves to be honored.

Quote:
what are you actually advocating, lebel?
I am advocating acknowledging his weakness while admiring his greatness.

Quote:
so are you saying that this exploitation was ok because lots of people indulged it?
is this how you make evaluations of what came to be the early phases of a genocide?
is this how you think about genocide in general--everything is ok if enough people go along with it?
This is offensive in the extreme to me, but I am used to it from you. For one thing, I am not aware of that I have excused slavery, nor am I aware of any "genocide" regarding black people in America (as opposed to a real genocide against the indians).

As I said above, slavery was, and this isn't open to your debate. People at the time had what they thought were good and moral reasons using it, reasons we have since rejected.

While I appreciate the question, what I reject is your moral smugness (stemming I suppose from a sense of superiority) in judging the intent and character of someone who lived in a different time and different culture based on one factor.

I, on the other hand, try to look at the whole of any individual. Did they in general do more "good" than "bad" for our world? What were their motives? What were their tools?

This is why I can look at Jefferson, who owned slaves, and still admire him, while I can look at Hitler, who unified a people and salvaged a nation, and revile him.

How you, as a "professional historian" can focus on one issue and support such revisionism is astounding.

Quote:
wait--the question involves self-loathing--genocide is carried out by other people--when the americans do it, it is manifest destiny--which is ordained by god--so therefore the repeated massacres of native americans from the 18th century through wounded knee--all ok.
WTF are you talking about?

I would appreciate if you would stop dragging in all your assumptions about American Right-wing conservatives when you address one of my posts.

I've NEVER said I supported "manifest destiny" or what was done to the indians. Indeed, I am fairly repulsed by it. So leave this smokescreen fluff somewhere else when arguing with me.

Quote:
no obviously not--not for you at least--because you have no interest in history--you prefer nationalist mythology. your choice, of course.

because you prefer nationalist mythology to history and its messiness, but cant really defend the position (how would you?) it follows that you would find a way to posit "your history" (of "white people"------do you really believe this?) as some kind of victim (of what?)

because confronting an often appalling history is not helpful for the mission of moral uplift that history should serve?
Again, I have no idea where you dig this shit up from.

I prefer "nationalist mythology"??

Please.

Leave this bs at the curb.

I prefer looking at history and people in the context of the times they lived and in what they believed. I prefer looking at the intentions of the individuals and how they held true to their beliefs. I prefer to then to look at this in the sense of how it has either furthered the human condition or degredated it before I make a final judgment.

I won't even bother with the rest of your post, as I've responded to the charges you repeat ad naseum.

(edited for tone)
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Old 03-31-2005, 11:34 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Owning slaves is bad. Playing a huge part in forming America is good. The school was not named after someone for owning slaves, it was named after someone for his priceless work in the creation of a liberated country that we all love.

The Romans enslaved my Celtic and Germanic ancestors much the same as the Africans were enslaved by Americans. My ancestors were regarded as property and currency to Romans durring the rule of the Roman Empire. I know that what they did was very wrong, BUT I realize that Rome also was a center for intelectual growth. Their political and philosophical growth alone has been benificial to mankind, whether they had slaves or not. You don't see me boycotting Little Ceasers Pizza.

I don't care that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, just as I don't care that Romans had slaves. It was a more barbaric time, and we have since then learned that slavery is wrong. I don't own slaves, and I'll bet no one who reads this has slaves. So why don't we have slaves? The Constitution's ideals paved the way for the 13th Amendment. Jefferson's support of the Constitution hinged upon the condition that Madison add a Bill of Rights to the document in the form of ten amendments. He paved the way for the 13th Amendment. They should be thanking him.

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Old 03-31-2005, 12:20 PM   #23 (permalink)
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I like your counter-argument Lebell. However, here's where things get tricky (in my opinion at least). The challenges in interpreting history and divining meaning is mutable and variable, especially relative to the present.

QUOTE:
I, on the other hand, try to look at the whole of any individual. Did they in
general do more "good" than "bad" for our world? What were their motives?
What were their tools?

This is why I can look at Jefferson, who owned slaves, and still admire him,
while I can look at Hitler, who unified a people and salvaged a nation, and
revile him.


It's a bit subjective. Part of the problem is tring to stay objective and unemotional in evaluating history. I really like this:

QUOTE:
I am advocating acknowledging his weakness while admiring his
greatness.


But with the caveat that it is subject to interpretation and open to spirited debate.

Sometimes I feel like there's a deconstructionist angle to history which I'm sure Roachboy can appreciate.

Will, I think we should recognize the "abhorrence of slavery" in balance to the good works of men's deeds. Jefferson (to me) was a great Founding Father but I definitely acknowledge he owned slaves etc. There's more to it in my opinion. It was transitional.

Similarly, although the Founding Father's presumably wrote the Constitution for the benefit of "white, property-owning, male over the age of forty", it is still the most amazing document produced by men. Even though it may not have been intended to include people like me, I still have greatly benefited from as have countless others. I agree, that what Jefferson wrote paved the way for evolvement such as the 13th Amendment. That's exactly what make Jefferson (et al) and the Constitution so great (to me).

I also believe, that the 13 colonies weren't very unified. Jefferson and others had to compromise on many issues such as slavery for a common goal (at the time). The US was very fragile back then and vulnerable to breaking apart. I am not justifying slavery, rather, trying to illustrate the process and difficulties of our history (as I know).
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Old 03-31-2005, 12:40 PM   #24 (permalink)
 
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argh! a detailed response to lebell vaporized....

short version:

first, lebell, my apologies for misspelling your fictional name. nice to see you are so gracious about it too.



i am not going to post anything else to this thread.
your response, lebell, really makes me wonder why i bother to post anything here at all.

two points:

1. i am not surprised to see you reacted with anger and shock at how your words from post 17 were understood. no. 17 is a really repellent post, lebell. your response switches ground, introduces other factors that all seem to turn around you having been personally offended by the reaction to what you wrote.

rather than address the obvious problems you raise yourself in no. 17, you decide to attack me personally on the one hand and introduce a whole series of qualifications to your position that were not present in no. 17 and that it is unreasonable to expect i would have known.

in your post, no. 17, the category of "freudian self-loathing"--which you do not explain, in which the term freudian i assume means nothing---functioned to set up every conclusion i drew from it. sorry if you did not like what you read back lebell, but the problem is in your post, not with me.

maybe you could actually look at no. 17 again.
maybe you could think about how the interpretation of your words could come about. maybe you would want to retract the category of self-loathing.
maybe you would want to think it out.

as for your objections to the points pertaining to history as a field of inquiry, there is much i could say. suffice it to say that most of the terms you use are fine in a wholly superficial kinda way. your rankean moment--a function of your obvious humility--was quaint. touching even. the claim that i am smug and you allow the past to be as it really was is just funny-----you cannot know what you are talking about and make that claim. but maybe this impressive display is good: i am glad you have worked out so much about the practice of history, which i assume you do not engage in.

enough of this.
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Old 03-31-2005, 02:45 PM   #25 (permalink)
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I just re-read post 18.

You're right.

I can't see how anyone would be offended by what you wrote and the assumptions you made.

---------------------------------------------------------


"so therefore slavery was fine."

"because you prefer nationalist mythology to history and its messiness, but cant really defend the position (how would you?) it follows that you would find a way to posit "your history" (of "white people"------do you really believe this?) as some kind of victim (of what?)"

"is this how you think about genocide in general--everything is ok if enough people go along with it?"

"wait--the question involves self-loathing--genocide is carried out by other people--when the americans do it, it is manifest destiny--which is ordained by god--so therefore the repeated massacres of native americans from the 18th century through wounded knee--all ok."

etc.
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Old 03-31-2005, 02:49 PM   #26 (permalink)
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People really need to let the Indian issue go. Nations are conquered at the edge of a sword or a barrel of a gun. Our ancestors came, they saw, they conquered, it doesn't make it right, but that's the history of the world, deal with it.
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Old 03-31-2005, 02:52 PM   #27 (permalink)
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I see a lot of speculating about Jefferson in this thread. Let me, as a historian, recommend "American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson" by Joseph J. Ellis. It's about 350 pages, but extremely accessible for non-historian types without over-simplifying a very complex man and history. If you're looking for blind hero-worship or non-stop scathing scandal, this book isn't for you. However, it is a balanced book that takes look at the most influential periods of his life and attempts to analyze him in a fashion that fits in-between two covers in a very manageable way.

Just some points of interest that I think some of the posters in this thread would like to know about Jefferson:

He was (some would say) hopelessly idealistic. He had a very difficult time reconciling his ideals he created in the abstract world with the troubles of reality. However, he was very good at "fooling himself" into ignoring these things. Yes he was contradictory. Ellis puts forth the argument that he wasn't a hypocrite so much as a man who had the "intellectual agility" to believe one thing at the same time as he lives in a world where he does another.

This is a big factor with the issue of slavery. Basically his stances were abhorrence of an unfortunate system that America was forced to inherit. He always claimed that slavery was inconsistent with republican ideals, but he was at a complete loss with what to do with a huge population of newly emancipated blacks which would have been in a real bind considering the prevalent attitudes concerning their inferiority.

As for the poster who questioned whether Jefferson "needed" his slaves... Well the answer is "yes", while he did have a large estate with a large slave population, he was consistently in debt for various reasons and felt forced to keep them for purely pragmatic reasons.

At any rate, I encourage people to take the time to learn about Jefferson, or any historical figure, before feeling at liberty to trash or praise him for such and such reasons. And digging through editorials for convenient quotes does not equate to any kind of useful historical analysis because, as I'm sure all of you know, quotes are extremely easy to take out of context. One could probably dig up enough quotes from any widely documented personage and paint them to be saints or devils.

On one last note, as everyone is very quick to judge history from the smug vantage point of the present, I urge you all to take a step back from your emotions and try to grapple with history on its own terms. Nobody here thinks slavery is a good idea now, but realize that this is a peculiar phenomenon which is basically unique to the last couple centuries of human history. Just because people in the past believed in things we now deem abhorrent doesn't mean we should take the knowledge we know now and romp through history condemning everyone that wasn't forward-thinking enough to think as we do now. Should we judge them by what they knew and how they acted on that, or what they didn't know? Nobody looks at pre-Copernican or Aristotelian astronomers and say, "Fucking dumbass and his geocentrism!" Yet when it comes to matters of morality, this is exactly what people do. Just something to think about.

As for staying on topic, I really don't care if a community wants to change the name of the school. I personally think it's a little silly to always be angry about things in the past, but if a sizable group is offended and are taking appropriate means to change this aspect, how does it affect the rest of us? It's none of our concern... Unless you have a fanatical obsession with Jefferson and your life's work is to make as many things named after him as possible.

At any rate, getting enraged over PCness and accusing the country of becoming "pinker" is just as reactionary as anything... not sure if you're trying to insinuate that PCness is the road to communism or if it's some other reference that went over my head.

As usual I have become more longwinded than I anticipated. Hopefully I said something useful and not a lot of nothing. Read the book!
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Old 03-31-2005, 02:54 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Mojo,

I really think it's a delicate balancing act.

In otherwords, letting go while still remembering.

Back to the point of the post: Slavery.

Those alive today are roughly two to four generations removed from slavery, yet the way some get worked up over it (especially with reparations), you would think that massa sold their baby last week.

We should remember so that we don't repeat the mistakes, but we should not embrace the hurt of long past generations as our own.

That is what is happening in the middle east and the major reason IMO why they cannot seem to find lasting peace.
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Old 03-31-2005, 03:40 PM   #29 (permalink)
 
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cheap sophomoric move there, lebell.
i would have expected better.
this is clearly going nowhere, is no longer interesting and really is pushing at the many many reasons i have been becoming alienated from this forum.

all this and you refuse to admit that the source of all of this is your repellent, unthought-out post from earlier, the one that equates critique of the Heroic Founders with self-loathing.

in case you really do have trouble distinguishing 17 from 18, i'll quote it here for you:



Quote:
It seems to me that if anyone is "whitewashing", it's this group.

History is what it is.

Most if not all wealthy Southern landowners held slaves, as has been pointed out numerous times.

European countries ruthlessly exploited the "new world" territories discovered even as many of the indiginous tribes exhibited their own forms of brutality, such as human sacrifice.

Do we stop admiring Jefferson or Columbus or the Native Americans because of it?

Of course not.

But many on the left insist we do (except it is ok to admire the indians because they aren't white).

Seriously, I am tired of this freudian exercise in self loathing.

i am done with you.
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Old 03-31-2005, 04:49 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Well said Roachboy.

This idea of 'letting the past go' and 'getting over it' that some members continue to spout is dangerous. Issues of race and descrimination still plague us today, and we cannot move foward and progress with these issues until we address the past. History isnt a simple narrative, its a field of contesting ideas and theories.
Also, I didnt know people still used the term 'Pink'. I thought it died out in 1964 with MacArthur.
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Old 03-31-2005, 05:13 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Well said meepa. However, I have a strange feeling it will be lost in the noise. A shame, really, as that is one of the more insightful posts I have read here.
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Old 03-31-2005, 05:35 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Roach, don't think you don't have people here who admire you (and don't think that I am above using a double negative). Despite the fact that we are taking a seperate stand on this particular topic, I respect you very much and give great weight to everything you have to say. Do not feel alienated just because a few people are more likely to dismiss you than listen, as that is their mistake.

Quote:
Please don't let your laziness in using the shift key extend to me.
Lebell, I understand roachboy being angry with you if you choose to treat him like this. I can't tell you how many people call me Willtravel instead of Willravel. It's an honest mistake. It is obvious that roachboy did not intend disrespect when he misspelled your screen name. Sorry if it seems like I'm lecturing you, but I am only moderatly political and have no problem questioning those who are my authority. Please don't take this to be anything but my clairifying a small part of why roachboy was angry with you.
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Old 03-31-2005, 05:45 PM   #33 (permalink)
is awesome!
 
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NCB, maybe if you could explain how "pinker" connotes weakness or spinelessness we could begin to have a discussion here. As it stands we're left to believe you're either profoundly ignorant of what political correctness actually is or you're only interested in exchanging hostilities. The latter is not allowed in this forum. Also articles without a cited source tend to be nonstarters.
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Old 03-31-2005, 06:08 PM   #34 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Locobot
NCB, maybe if you could explain how "pinker" connotes weakness or spinelessness we could begin to have a discussion here. As it stands we're left to believe you're either profoundly ignorant of what political correctness actually is or you're only interested in exchanging hostilities. The latter is not allowed in this forum. Also articles without a cited source tend to be nonstarters.
Because, if I read into NCB's slightly covert reference correctly, "pinker" is pinko, communist, leftist and whatever other archaic term those to the right of reactionary want to use to describe those who are free thinkers, and to the left of them politically. It's really no way to start a thread, in any case. IMHO this thread began quite close trolling and has degraded since. Lebell, I am surprised at your juvenile attack on a roachboy, because he slightly misspelled your name. While I may occasionally disagree with your politics, I wouldn't expect something akin to narcissistic rage.
At any rate, I don't think that examining the past is a bad thing, and since we are a democratic country,if enough people believe strongly enough in something, then their beliefs should at least be considered. Yes Jefferson kept slaves, and yes it was typical for someone in his class and era to do so, but according to several sources, he was also screwing several of them, which may or may not be a furthur consideration for those advocating a name change. For the record, I am not a big fan of name changes all over the place, for instance, I think Malcolm X school may be taking the whole thing a bit too far, but i guess it is fairly impossible to please everyone all the time (although I would think that perhaps rewarding past exemplary teachers at the school might be nice).
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Old 03-31-2005, 06:23 PM   #35 (permalink)
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I think Jefferson deserves to have school named in his honor.

Like any historical figure, tragic human flaws will be discovered in his character. Communities hold different standards to personal behavior and legacy, and while I disagree with Berkeley's decision, I think local governments in the US ought to exercise their discretion this way. Let a "pink" community think "pink", and don't move there -- or better yet, move there and raise your voice.
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Old 03-31-2005, 06:35 PM   #36 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ilow
I think Malcolm X school may be taking the whole thing a bit too far
I'm curious why you would draw the line at Malcolm X.
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Old 03-31-2005, 07:46 PM   #37 (permalink)
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I would have been very proud to go to a Malcom X named high school.
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Old 03-31-2005, 07:54 PM   #38 (permalink)
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What about Thomas Jefferson?
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Old 03-31-2005, 07:58 PM   #39 (permalink)
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I also would have been very proud to attend a Thomas Jefferson named school. I see him as a great American, and a great human being. Human being are flawed, but you have to keep in mind that we may not be living in the same America as we are today had it not been for him.
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Old 03-31-2005, 08:16 PM   #40 (permalink)
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Well there you have it, thanks!
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