The competition for the worst Democratic Presidential nominee hopeful just got a bit more interesting when one of the media darlings among the 24 (24!) hopefuls made an Ethics Dunce of himself (in an interview with Hugh Hewitt) in a manner that is disqualifying for the Presidency by Ethics Alarms standards. Here’s the relevant section:
HH: … A very blunt question, because you talk about going to every Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Indiana when you were running statewide. Should Jefferson-Jackson dinners be renamed everywhere because both were holders of slaves?
Buttigieg: Yeah, we’re doing that in Indiana. I think it’s the right thing to do. You know, over time, you develop and evolve on the things you choose to honor. And I think we know enough, especially Jackson, you know, you just look at what basically amounts to genocide that happened here. Jefferson’s more problematic. You know, there’s a lot to, of course, admire in his thinking and his philosophy. Then again, as you plunge into his writings, especially the notes on the state of Virginia, you know that he knew that slavery was wrong…. And yet, he did it. Now we’re all morally conflicted human beings. And it’s not like we’re blotting him out of the history books, or deleting him from being the Found[ing] Fathers. But you know, naming something after somebody confers a certain amount of honor. And at a time, I mean, the real reason I think there’s a lot of pressure on this is the relationship between the past and the present, that we’re finding in a million different ways that racism isn’t some curiosity out of the past that we’re embarrassed about but moved on from. It’s alive, it’s well, it’s hurting people. And it’s one of the main reasons to be in politics today is to try to change or reverse the harms that went along with that. Then, we’d better look for ways to live out and honor that principle, even in a symbolic thing.
Even before this fatuous statement, my Presidential history, common sense and current day political analysis led me to conclude that the South Bend mayor has no chance of being nominated, and if by some miracle of convention deadlock deal he was, no chance of being elected. He is 1) gay, 2) white, 3) male, 4) way too young, and 5) too much immersed the Democratic Socialist camp. I don’t have to get to some of his other problems, like the fact that he is infuriatingly smug. However, the statement to Hewitt would disqualify him for me even if I were a Democrat, and should make all thinking and ethical Democrats—you know, the ones that aren’t nascent totalitarians, look elsewhere, though good luck with that.
Back in 2015 I anticipated the Left’s Soviet-style cultural bulldozing in the post, “Stop Your Cultural Bulldozing, America: Disney World Taking Down Bill Cosby’s Bust Is Like Removing The Jefferson Memorial.”
O.J. Simpson is still honored in the College Football Hall of Fame, because he was one of the greatest college stars ever. His post-career hobby as a murderer, like Bill’s extra-curricular activities as a serial rapist, have nothing to do with the honor, just as Cosby earned and still deserves, his honor for what he achieved on stage and screen.
Sure, it’s uncomfortable having a bust of an unapologetic sexual predator in a Disney World attraction, and it might prompt some uncomfortable question from the kiddies. Well, good. It’s never too soon to learn that human beings are flawed, complex creatures, and that even the most brilliant and talented have dark sides, do terrible things, and can be cruel, selfish, dishonest and even criminal. We honor Thomas Jefferson for his crucial role in giving this nation life, and defining its mission and values for the ages. We’re not honoring his hypocrisy, his cowardice, his own rapes, or his slaveholding. Disney World, of all places, should understand this, since its progenitor was both a genius and a man who left a lot of circumstantial evidence in his legacy that he was anti-Semitic.
“First they came for Cosby, and we did not speak out…”
There is no stop to this slippery slope, and the political correctness mob will never stop. Yesterday the House of Representatives voted without dissent to ban Confederate flags from national cemeteries, as well as confirming the Park Service’s hysterical order that Confederate flags cannot be sold as souvenirs at Confederate army battlefields. A man who died under the Confederate flag can’t have that flag placed on his grave one day a year? A child who wants to learn about the Civil War and collect artifacts and symbols is prevented from doing so by government power?
Stop airbrushing your history, your heroes, your geniuses and your trailblazers, America.
It is wrong—dishonest, incompetent, unfair, irresponsible, destructive….and so, so short-sighted and stupid.
Yes, it takes courage to oppose this tidal wave of political correctness—surely some in this country still have courage, right? I know it’s scary in an environment where the immense weight of the news media, the internet and the government are constantly teaming up to smear and destroy anyone who dares to take unpopular positions—that means, “rational positions based on more nuanced analysis than the average internet meme from Move-On”—or who tries to slow one of the unreasoning, destructive , runaway cultural freight trains that are bearing down on American society with increasing frequency. But prominent people stood up to Joe McCarthy, opposed popular wars, fought for civil rights, and have repeatedly risked reputation, employment, friendships and even their lives to insist on sanity, proportion and rationality when it was being swept aside by coalitions of the opportunistic, the Machiavellian and the ignorant. Surely there are prominent Americans who will stand up to this? Hello? Is anybody there?
Because this isn’t just airbrushing. It is bulldozing. And the culture, history and perspective it will leave the nation with will be flat, bleak, and a lie.
I am not always right, but I was damn right that day, and I caught a lot of flack for it.
Not much here, interestingly, but I posted that essay on Facebook—back when Facebook wasn’t lumping Ethics Alarms with Milo and Farrakhan—and was chided by one of my more impressive and respected lawyer friends who insisted that there was no slippery slope from Bill and the Confederate flags to Jefferson, and that I was being hysterical and absurd.
Later, of course, New Jersey’s Democrats decided to strip Jefferson’s name from its annual dinner. University of Virginia students demanded that a statue of Jefferson be toppled—Jefferson founded that institution, and included it as one of his three greatest accomplishments on his gravestone, omitting serving as President and the Louisiana Purchase.–and last year and this Hofstra students have made the same demand about a Jefferson statue on that campus.
Lately Confederates and defenders of slavery before the Civil War have been the primary objects of the destructive Confederate Statuary Ethics Train Wreck,Confederate Statuary Ethics Train Wreck, but the cannons of the war on Jefferson could be heard faintly behind the raging war on Robert E. Lee, and we will soon see a day when the President, or someone else, is judged a racist for stating that there are some good people who oppose tearing down the Jefferson Memorial and razing Monticello.
There I go, being hysterical again.
Buttigieg is supposed to be smart, but his statements to Hewitt were facile and contradictory. Jefferson’s name on the Democratic Party dinner, the Memorial, and his status as a Founding Father are based on exactly the same achievements and acknowledgement of exactly the same debt.
The United States, and all it has achieved, and every one of its citizens including you, me and Mayor Pete, would not be who we are or where we are without Thomas Jefferson. His words in the Declaration of Independence created the mission statement for the nation, the genesis of the Constitution, and the crucial, indispensable delineation of the values of an emerging experiment, a society built on aspirational values, then and now unique in the world. While he was not personally capable of acting on his own declaration that all are created equal and deserve liberty, Jefferson’s words planted the seeds that made the abolishment of slavery in America—which could not have occurred during his lifetime—inevitable.
For Buttigieg to casually brush all of that aside because Jefferson was a slaveholder (more than 200 years ago, when slavery was legal, and the belief in black inferiority was nearly universal) is sadly typical of the motivating values of the current Left. In that increasingly rigid and cant-driven movement, the legacy of slavery and racism are the prime considerations behind so many progressive agenda items, prompting escalating racial division and hate—but strategically and politically advantageous division and hate.
How can Thomas Jefferson be worthy of honor as a Founder and deserving of a memorial statute in the Capital, but not worthy of having his name on an annual dinner in Indiana? Buttigieg reveals himself as a hypocrite, a panderer, and a phony intellectual, as well as a potential leader who believes in manipulating the historical record to point the pliable public his way through deception.
Yes, Thomas Jefferson was himself a hypocrite, as well as a coward. He knew it; so did many of his colleagues. During the Revolution as Governor of Virginia, he breached an agreement among the states to send the state militias to the aide of neighboring states under siege, because he feared being captured by the British. A fellow Virginian entrusted his land to Jefferson while he was abroad, and returned to find that Tom had sold it to pay his own debts. Yet Jefferson’s fellow citizens and Founders recognized that what he had given the nation and the culture with his thoughts and words, even thought they described ideals that he was tragically unable to embrace fully in his own life. made his personal failings a footnote.
Every President aspired to meeting standards that he knows, or should know, are beyond his grasp. Failing to understand why America honors Thomas Jefferson, as much its creator as any man, disqualifies Buttigieg for the office.