In an op-ed Tuesday, CNN assistant general counsel Johnita Due criticized Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe for holding up Thomas Jefferson as a “patriot” after the Charlottesville attack.
McAuliffe made the comments while condemning white nationalists.
“I have a message to all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today. Our message is plain and simple: Go home,” McAuliffe said. “You are not wanted in this great Commonwealth. … You pretend that you are patriots, but you are anything but a patriot.”
“You want to talk about patriots, talk about Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, who brought our country together,” he continued.
As Due pointed out, Washington and Jefferson both owned slaves.
“At a time when it is important to condemn white nationalists and supremacists unequivocally, invoking Thomas Jefferson is a mistake,” Due wrote.
“White supremacy 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,” she continued. “Such notions of inferiority are what Jefferson and other slave owners used to justify holding blacks in captivity and treating them as animals.”
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Trump condemned the white nationalists while saying that there were violent people on both sides.
“George Washington was a slave owner,” Trump said Tuesday. “So will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson?… Are we going to take down his statue because he was a major slave owner? Are we going to take down his statue?”
The CNN article pointed out that President Jefferson owned 600 slaves during his lifetime.
“Our national healing cannot move forward if even well-meaning leaders don’t recognize the role our Founding Fathers played in seeding white supremacy,” Due wrote.