Between Presidents Day 2015 and Presidents Day 2016, founding presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson came under attack multiple times from college students around the country for being “racists” who owned slaves.
International journalist and educator Alex Newman, co-author of “Crimes of the Educators,” believes so many students feel this way because the public schools have failed to instill in children the proper respect for the many great accomplishments of the nation’s Founding Fathers.
“Government schools in America are doing an absolutely atrocious job of teaching students about U.S. presidents, American history more broadly, and especially the founders,” Newman told WND.
“For evidence, go ask any young person a question about the framers of the Constitution. Ask them about Washington or Jefferson. Generally speaking, they will reflexively parrot a few propagandistic phrases drilled into their impressionable young minds by the miseducation system – dead white guys, slavery, and so on.”
The students’ perspective is being made clear over and over. Just a few months back, students at the University of Texas started a petition to remove a campus statue of George Washington due to his lifelong ownership of slaves.
Similarly, a University of Washington senior told local media in November that when she walks into UW’s Red Square and sees a giant statue of George Washington, she feels “erased” as a student of color.
Noting Washington owned slaves, she told KUOW the statue makes her campus “a very daunting place because you’re walking into a predominantly white institution and you’re already starting to face hostility.”
If only these students knew the full story of Washington and slavery, according to scholar Joshua Charles.
“Washington freed his slaves at his death,” said Charles, the author of “Liberty’s Secrets: The Lost Wisdom of America’s Founders.” “Washington not only freed them, but in his will, he provided that his estate would pay for their food, for their clothing, especially for the elderly and the younger. He provided for his estate to pay for their education, to teach them useful skills so they could be useful in the world.
“Most people have no idea about that.”
Students have directed their ire at Thomas Jefferson as well. In October, University of Missouri students covered a campus statue of Jefferson with post-it notes calling him a “racist,” a “rapist” and more. They also started a petition to have the statue removed from campus.
The following month, students at the College of William & Mary also covered their campus Jefferson statue with sticky notes saying things such as “racist,” “incestuous rapist,” “he knew it was wrong” and “black lives matter.”
Charles, a WND columnist, seeks to put Washington’s and Jefferson’s ownership of slaves into perspective. He noted slavery was considered morally acceptable in the world in which Washington and Jefferson lived. Slave labor was an integral part of life for many wealthy landowners. Washington and Jefferson were both born into slave-owning families and inherited slaves as young men.
That does not make slavery right, according to Charles, but it does explain why the two presidents lived as they did.
“It’s easy for all of us in this generation to say slavery was a moral evil,” Charles said. “But we didn’t earn that; we grew up into a world where that was already true.
“[In] the world we were born into, that moral victory had already been won. At this point, that moral victory had not [yet] been won.”
Newman, for his part, believes public schools deliberately try to conceal some of the nobler aspects of the Founding Fathers from students.
“The founding-era presidents and framers bequeathed to the American people the most ingenious form of government ever devised by the mind of man, a system that decentralized power and protected our God-given rights for centuries,” Newman declared. “And that is exactly why the government schools do not teach these truths. If the American people do not realize what they had – a constitutional republic that was the product of thousands of years of advancing civilization, something unprecedented in the history of man – they will not understand what they are in the process of having stolen from them right this minute.”
The answer, according to Newman, is to realize the government schools have failed and doubled down on efforts to teach future generations about the virtues of the men who founded the United States.
“There is no reason to downplay their shortcomings – the founders and even America’s greatest presidents were still human, after all,” Newman said. “But those failings should be put into context, and to focus only on those while ignoring the courage, genius, character, wisdom, and heroism of men like Washington, Adams, and Jefferson is to literally rob Americans of their birthright. Parents, teach your children, because the government schools won’t do it.”