Recently I read that the City Council of New York City decided to remove a public statue of Thomas Jefferson! Why? Because he was a slave owner. STOP IT! It is long since passed the time that we should start judging people by the standards in effect during their times instead of ours. Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, which is probably the most important and lasting document ever written by the Hand of Man, and he also did other truly wonderful and patriotic things for our great country. So he fully deserves, still today, to be recognized for his great and lasting contributions! Or, if you disagree, what are your thoughts about another true hero, such as Abraham Lincoln? I understand President Lincoln to have made the statement during the early 1860s that if he could keep the Union together without freeing even one slave he would do it. So are you going to take down his statues as well? Or how about President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, who now are widely understood to have cheated on their wives with regularity? Just because we don’t eradicate their statues does not at all mean that we condone marital infidelity. The same is true with Ray Charles. If we still enjoy “Tell Me What’d I Say” on the radio, does that mean that we believe adultery is no big deal? Of course not. Or how about Davy Crockett? He was widely known to have killed many bears during his lifetime, which was celebrated during his times but obviously is not today. In other words, it is simply not appropriate in most cases to denigrate anyone for not living up to our standards instead of those of their ages!

 Candidly, most of these efforts to tear down important people in our history are meant to pull us apart.  Yes, and again I say it, yes, many people throughout our history did things that, by today’s standards, were wrong.  These include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Davey Crockett and many others.  But tearing their memories down is not helpful, and actually these are false issues.  Okay, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis stood for the society that endorsed slavery.  So their statues should probably be in a private museum instead of on public property.  But let’s observe some limits.  The Washington Monument in D.C. should and must remain as it is; as should the Jefferson Memorial.  Both of those men did great, meaningful and lasting things for our country.  So let’s all focus upon those great and lasting positive things that they bequeathed us, and use all reasonable efforts to bring us back together.  E Pluribus Unam, which is the foundation of our country:  “Out to one, many.”  We have so much to be grateful for with our Founders, let’s all celebrate the great things they have done for us, and let go and overlook, by today’s standards, what we now see as harmful.  In summary, let’s focus upon real issues that can bring us together, instead of false issues that drive us apart.

Question for the week: “Is it ignorance or apathy that’s destroying the world today?” Answer: “I don’t know, and I don’t really care.”

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.) Superior Court of Orange County, California 2012 Libertarian Candidate for Vice President

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