The War Against the Past

There is a growing war against the past. Our heroes of yesteryear, even George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, are under attack.

I was disheartened to see ads for Hulu presenting a series based on the discredited 1619 Project. As I’ve noted in a column many months ago, the 1619 Project postulates that America began in 1619, when the first black slaves were brought here—not 1776, when the founders declared independence.

Dr. Ben Carson writes on his website, “In recent years,…many people in politics, academia, and the media have questioned the values of the American founding. They have focused on the faults of certain Founding Fathers— along with the undeniable fact that the rights they championed were not originally enjoyed by all Americans—and cast doubt upon whether any of their fancy words are important today.”

Let’s take the issue of slavery. The rewriting of American history is becoming increasingly commonplace. America’s founders, hailed by generations of Americans as heroes (albeit flawed ones), are today viewed as nefarious evildoers because of the sin of slavery.

Without question, chattel slavery is a horrific evil. But it is often treated by revisionist historians as if America invented it. Tragically, slavery was virtually universal at the time of the founders—and it existed in America despite some of the positive Christian influence among many of the late colonies.

As the late Dr. Walter Williams said in our Foundation of American Liberty series of films for Providence Forum: “Slavery has been mankind’s standard fare throughout his entire history. And even the word, slave, in most languages is Slav, that is because the Slavic people are among the first to be enslaved. And Africans were among the last to be enslaved. And the great thing about the Western world is that we spent many resources on eliminating slavery.”

What made the western Judeo-Christian systems in America and England unique is that they abolished slavery—something that still exists in many other places even today.

Founding father Thomas Jefferson, of course, wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, which says that we are created equal and are endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights. When I visited his estate in Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia, the tour guide seemed to throw our third president under the bus because he owned slaves.

I once asked Rabbi Daniel Lapin about Jefferson and slavery in my television interview with him for the Foundation series.

He said, “It’s always very disappointing that the intellectual level of those who constantly pose this question to me, it’s just frankly disappointing when people say, ‘Oh, you know, Jefferson was a slave owner’ or speaking of many of the other founders, as well as Jefferson, as if somehow to discredit these people.” Indeed, that attempted discrediting has become commonplace today. That’s why they tear down statues of him.

The rabbi concluded, “[I]t’s almost a childish and pathetic attempt to discredit these giants by the pigmy-like behavior of suggesting that, because their behavior at the time corresponded to the values at the time, that somehow retroactively from the vantage point of 200 years later, we can declare these people to have been invalid or we can cancel them…. This reflects far more on the critics than it does on the founders.”

Imagine saying to someone, “You’re under arrest.” “What for?” “For violating a law that will go into effect a century from now.”

Dennis Prager of PragerU told me this in an interview for the Foundation series: “People say, ‘Well, Jefferson had slaves,’ but that’s not the question. The question is: did Jefferson create a society that would abolish slavery? That’s the only intelligent question to ask. Not what did that person do that contravened their ideal.”

Prager went on to say, “When he wrote, ‘all men are created equal,’ he meant it, even though he had slaves. Did he violate his own beliefs that he had with regard to blacks? Yes, of course he did, but…look at what he unleashed, the freest country in human history. The least racist country in human history is the United States of America. This was unleashed by these people.” 

Slavery was uprooted ultimately because of the framework the founders created in giving us self-rule under God.

I wonder: How will future generations view us, since so many treat so cavalierly the issue of abortion—the deliberate taking of baby’s lives, by the millions? And we have 4-D sonograms to boot.

In my view it’s time to stop this ongoing attempt to erase our history and dethrone our heroes– flawed ones no doubt, but heroes, nonetheless. Historian Dr. James S. Robbins wrote a book a few years ago called, Erasing America. The subtitle of that volume speaks volumes, “Losing Our Future by Destroying Our Past.”

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