Category Archive 'Thomas Jefferson'

15 Nov 2016

Faculty, Students Tell UVA President Not to Quote Jefferson

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jeffersonuva

The Cavalier Daily reports that faculty and students at the University of Virginia signed a letter to that university’s president admonishing her for quoting Thomas Jefferson, who founded that university.

Several professors on Grounds collaborated to write a letter to University President Teresa Sullivan against the inclusion of a Thomas Jefferson quote in her post-election email Nov. 9.

In the email, Sullivan encouraged students to unite in the wake of contentious results, arguing that University students have the responsibility of creating the future they want for themselves.

“Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend that University of Virginia students ‘are not of ordinary significance only: they are exactly the persons who are to succeed to the government of our country, and to rule its future enmities, its friendships and fortunes,’” Sullivan said in the email. “I encourage today’s U.Va. students to embrace that responsibility.”

Some professors from the Psychology Department — and other academic departments — did not agree with the use of this quote. Their letter to Sullivan argued that in light of Jefferson’s owning of slaves and other racist beliefs, she should refrain from quoting Jefferson in email communications.

“We would like for our administration to understand that although some members of this community may have come to this university because of Thomas Jefferson’s legacy, others of us came here in spite of it,” the letter read. “For many of us, the inclusion of Jefferson quotations in these e-mails undermines the message of unity, equality and civility that you are attempting to convey.”

The letter garnered 469 signatures — from both students and professors — before being sent out via email Nov. 11. Signees included Politics Prof. Nicholas Winter, Psychology Prof. Chad Dodson, Women, Gender and Sexuality Prof. Corinne Field, College Assistant Dean Shilpa Davé, Politics Prof. Lynn Sanders and many more. Asst. Psychology Prof. Noelle Hurd drafted the letter. …

Politics Prof. Lawrie Balfour said she believes everyone who signed the letter, including herself, was grateful that Sullivan responded to anxiety following the election — however, many felt it was the wrong moment to turn to Jefferson, following incidents of identity-related hate speech.

“I’ve been here 15 years,” Balfour said. “Again and again, I have found that at moments when the community needs reassurance and Jefferson appears, it undoes I think the really important work that administrators and others are trying to do.”

Not all signees believe the University should move away from quoting Jefferson in all email correspondence, including Balfour.

“I think we have an opportunity to think about the contradictions that Jefferson embodied,” Balfour said. “The point is not that he is never appropriate, but the point is that the move that says, he owned slaves, but he was a great man, is deeply problematic, and I think it will continue to prevent us from being the kind of inclusive, respectful community that President Sullivan and the rest of us envision.”

Complete story.

I’m a Jeffersonian Libertarian, but this one is too much for me. I would fire every one of those faculty members and expel every insolent and ungrateful student.

23 Jul 2015

CT Dems Purge Jefferson & Jackson

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jefferson_jackson

It was widely predicted that historical purging would proceed farther when recently a nation-wide campaign of execration broke out targeting the Confederate flag.

The Connecticut Post confirms the accuracy of those predictions, reporting that:

Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson are history in Connecticut.

Under pressure from the NAACP, the state Democratic Party will scrub the names of the two presidents from its annual fundraising dinner because of their ties to slavery.

Party leaders voted unanimously Wednesday night in Hartford to rename the Jefferson Jackson Bailey dinner in the aftermath of last month’s fatal shooting of nine worshipers at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C.

The decision is believed to be unprecedented and could prompt Democrats in other states with similarly named events to follow suit.

“I see it as the right thing to do,” Nick Balletto, the party’s first-year chairman, told Hearst Connecticut Media on Wednesday night.

“I wasn’t looking to be a trailblazer or set off a trend that’s going to affect the rest of the country. Hopefully, they’ll follow suit when they see it’s the right thing to do.”

Democrat Party annual dinners nationally have long been named the Jefferson and Jackson Dinner, since Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson are, historically speaking, indisputably the two greatest presidents and the two greatest American leaders associated with that political party. Unless, of course, you are a contemporary subscriber to the Marxist “critical studies” approach to history. In which case, you recognize the democrat party’s notoriously libertarian early icons stood for essentially everything you are against: particularly limited government and individual and states’ rights. Worse yet, both were Southerners and thus slave owners. And General Jackson was notoriously unsympathetic to Native American Rights, defeating the Creek Indians in war and deporting the Cherokee to a designated Indian Territory which would one day become Oklahoma.

What do you do, if you are a radical left-wing democrat obliged to face the reality that your party’s two greatest leaders were ultra-libertarians with little to no commitment to equality-at-any-cost? Obviously, you vote that history out of existence.

16 Jul 2013

Hamilton Hides Behind Jefferson In Whole Foods

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Whole Foods produce section, Reno, Nevada

Venkatesh Rao
(as is becoming ever more frequent these days, we Americans get our explanations about ourselves from Indians) describes a longstanding American cultural pattern of concealing out Hamiltonian realities behind more pleasing Jeffersonian facades.

Every time you set foot in a Whole Foods store, you are stepping into one of the most carefully designed consumer experiences on the planet. Produce is stacked into black bins in order to accentuate its colour and freshness. Sale items peek out from custom-made crates, distressed to look as though they’ve just fallen off a farmer’s truck. Every detail in the store, from the font on a sign to a countertop’s wood finish, is designed to make you feel like you’re in a country market. Most of us take these faux-bucolic flourishes for granted, but shopping wasn’t always this way.

George Gilman’s early A&P stores are the spiritual ancestors of the Whole Foods experience. If you were a native of small-town America in the 1860s, walking into one of Gilman’s A&P stores was a serious culture shock. You would have stared agog at gaslit signage, advertising, tea in branded packages, and a cashier’s station shaped like a Chinese pagoda. You would have been forced to wrap your head around the idea of mail-order purchases.

Before Gilman, pre-industrial consumption was largely the unscripted consequence of localised, small-scale patterns of production. With the advent of A&P stores, consumerism began its 150-year journey from real farmers’ markets in small towns to fake farmers’ markets inside metropolitan grocery stores. Through the course of that journey, retailing would discover its natural psychological purpose: transforming the output of industrial-scale production into the human-scale experience we call shopping.

Gilman anticipated, by some 30 years, the fundamental contours of industrial-age selling. Both the high-end faux-naturalism of Whole Foods and the budget industrial starkness of Costco have their origins in the original A&P retail experience. The modern system of retail pioneered by Gilman — distant large-scale production facilities coupled with local human-scale consumption environments — was the first piece of what I’ve come to think of as the ‘American cloud’: the vast industrial back end of our lives that we access via a theatre of manufactured experiences. If distant tea and coffee plantations were the first modern clouds, A&P stores and mail-order catalogues were the first browsers and apps. …

The American cloud is the product of a national makeover that started in 1791 with Alexander Hamilton’s American School of economics — a developmental vision of strong national institutions and protectionist policies designed to shelter a young, industrialising nation from British dominance. Hamilton’s vision was diametrically opposed to Thomas Jefferson’s competing vision based on small-town, small-scale agrarian economics. Indeed, the story of America is, in many ways, the story of how Hamilton’s vision came to prevail over Jefferson’s.

By the early 19th century, Hamilton’s ideas had crystallised into two complementary doctrines, both known as the ‘American system’. The first was senator Henry Clay’s economic doctrine, based on protectionist tariffs, a national bank, and ongoing internal infrastructure improvements. The second was the technological doctrine of precision manufacturing based on interchangeable parts, which emerged around Springfield and Harpers Ferry national armouries. Together, the two systems would catalyse the emergence of an industrial back end in the country’s heartland, and the establishment of a consumer middle class on the urbanising coasts. But it would take another century, and the development of the internet, for the American cloud to retreat almost entirely from view.

By the 1880s, the two American systems had given rise to a virtuous cycle of accelerating development, with emerging corporations and developing national infrastructure feeding off each other. The result was the first large-scale industrial base: a world of ambitious infrastructure projects, giant corporations and arcane political structures. Small farms gave way to transcontinental railroads, giant dams, Standard Oil and US Steel. The most consequential political activity retreated into complex new governance institutions that few ordinary citizens understood, such as the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Federal Reserve, and the War Industries Board. Politics began to acquire its surreal modern focus on broadly comprehensible sideshows.

Over the course of two centuries, the Hamiltonian makeover turned the isolationist, small-farmer America of Jefferson’s dreams into the epicentre of the technology-driven, planet-hacking project that we call globalisation. The visible signs of the makeover — I call them Hamiltonian cathedrals — are unprepossessing. Viewed from planes or interstate highways, grain silos, power plants, mines, landfills and railroad yards cannot compete visually with big sky and vast prairie. Nevertheless, the Hamiltonian makeover emptied out and transformed the interior of America into a technology-dominated space that still deserves the name heartland. Except that now the heart is an artificial one.

The makeover has been so psychologically disruptive that during the past century, the bulk of America’s cultural resources have been devoted to obscuring the realities of the cloud with simpler, more emotionally satisfying illusions. These constitute a theatre of pre-industrial community life primarily inspired, ironically enough, by Jefferson’s small-town visions. This theatre, which forms the backdrop of consumer lifestyles, can be found today inside every Whole Foods, Starbucks and mall in America. I call it the Jeffersonian bazaar.

Read the whole thing.

10 Jun 2011

From Jefferson: On the American Condition in 2011

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Thomas Jefferson

A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt. If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake.

–From a letter to John Taylor of Caroline (June 1798)


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