An attorney for CNN is angry at Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe for “invoking” Thomas Jefferson, America’s third president and main author of the Declaration of Independence, while denouncing present day neo-Nazis and white supremacists who protested in Charlottesville Saturday.
Johnita P. Due, vice president and assistant general counsel for CNN, wrote that Jefferson, like other Founding Fathers of the U.S., helped sow the seeds of “white supremacy” in the nation.
Due writes, “McAuliffe was saying many of the things we needed to hear, and the black man standing behind him in the white ‘Menace II Supremacy’ shirt was nodding emphatically.”
“’You want to talk about patriots, talk about Thomas Jefferson and George Washington who brought our country together,’ he added. The man in the t-shirt, who I later learned was Charlottesville Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy, stopped nodding, maybe coincidentally, but I felt punched in the stomach,” she continued.
Bellamy, it should be noted, made news through published tweets of his between 2009 and 2014, using homophobic slurs, profane language against women, and white people, The Cavalier Daily reported. His most recent Twitter posts relating to his political views are a complete reversal of his previous tweets by lauding LGBTQ rights.
Due wrote her piece Tuesday, the same day President Donald Trump vented his criticism over those who want to remove monuments of confederate military figures. He stated that founding fathers George Washington and Jefferson would be targeted next.
“Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E Lee,” Trump said at his presser in Trump Tower.
“This week, it is Robert E Lee and this week, Stonewall Jackson. Is it George Washington next? You have to ask yourself, where does it stop?” he said, later noting that both presidents had owned slaves.
Trump went on to say,“George Washington was a slave owner. Are we gonna take down statues of George Washington? … you’re changing history, you’re changing culture…you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.”
Trump’s remarks were about Jefferson and Washington were criticized by historians contacted by The New York Times who claimed the president “misapprehends the moral problem with the Confederacy.”
Due goes on to criticize placing Jefferson on a pedestal, saying, “At a time when it is important to condemn white nationalists and supremacists unequivocally, invoking Thomas Jefferson is a mistake.
She further defines white supremacy, stating that it “is based on the concept that blacks and other people of color are not equal to whites — many believe they are not even worth the three-fifths that was embodied in the original Constitution for tax and representation purposes. Such notions of inferiority are what Jefferson and other slave owners used to justify holding blacks in captivity and treating them as animals.”
“Invoking Jefferson to condemn the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who were demonstrating Friday and Saturday is antithetical to Jefferson’s beliefs — and certainly to the life he led,” she writes. “Jefferson owned 600 slaves during his lifetime, freeing only two men before he died and bequeathing freedom to five other men, believed to be his progeny, upon his death.”
She continued with em“And that is part of why McAuliffe’s invocation of Jefferson hit me so hard. Our national healing cannot move forward if even well-meaning leaders don’t recognize the role our Founding Fathers played in seeding white supremacy.”