Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Defending Freedom

Jefferson’s legacy is worth defending. U.Va.’s founder contributed to the cause of human freedom. By Robert Turner
Excerpt: At the risk of offending 469 University faculty colleagues and students who protest University President Teresa Sullivan’s practice of quoting University founder Thomas Jefferson “in light of Jefferson’s owning of slaves and other racist beliefs,” I would submit another Jefferson quote: “This institution [the University] will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.” Jefferson did not want to suppress “error,” but to allow competing claims to the truth to do battle in the intellectual marketplace of ideas. We call that “academic freedom.” Facts affirm the wisdom of Jefferson’s vision in this instance. Censoring Sullivan’s references to Jefferson would impoverish our students and faculty alike, and — as is so often the case with censorship advocates — it is premised upon ignorance. (Yep, anybody who ever owned slaves has to be cast into the outer darkness, no matter what they were really like, what the laws were, what that society was. Of course, we don't want to get into the fact that there were hundreds of Black slave owners and slave merchants in those times, not to mention some of the Indian tribes had also owned slaves. All that's needed to know is that someone was a slave owner and there's no further discussion. Simple, easy, no thinking involved after that. Dr. Turner has done a super job on this, I hope this gets spread out far&wide. This idiotic practice of judging people in a distant time and society by the perceived rules of today, and not even checking into the actual facts, really needs to be discredited totally. --Del)

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