The recent video, “The Fall of Minneapolis,” by journalist Liz Collin and Dr. J.C. Chaix, is chillingly eye-opening. The documentary, following the book, “They’re Lying: The Media, The Left, and the Death of George Floyd, is painstakingly researched. It shows convincingly that the four officers, who were involved in the arrest of George Floyd on the day of his passing, did an exemplary job of following police procedure. Noting his erratic behavior, likely due to intoxication of some sort, they forthwith called for assistance: EMS. With a large criminal record at the time, Floyd, at the time of his death, had many intoxicants in his body, had a history of hysteria, suffered from substantial arterial blockage, and had done all that he could not to cooperate with the officers, attempting to arrest him for aiming to pass off phony money. There was perjury at the trial. Relevant information was intentionally suppressed: what Collin calls “crimes of omission.” Four officers, who ought to have been praised for exemplary behavior, we given significant prison sentences. Derik Chavin, who was convicted of “murdering” Floyd, was recently stabbed 22 times while in prison for a death that was the fault of Floyd, not Chavin. Pelosi and Biden glowingly eulogized Floyd as a courageous man in the struggle for civil rights.
Floyd was no hero; Floyd was a liar, a criminal, and a poltroon. Yet he has been, and continues to be, sanctified.
Collin’s book and documentary ought to be of large consequences. They will not. The reason is that we neither care today about justice nor care today about truth. We feel our way through situations today, and luckily are guided by others, our Progressivist leaders, who know better than do we concerning how we ought to feel and what we are to do, when we are goaded and reinforced to feel a certain way.
That is the Postmodern climate of today. Much wiser scions of our modernist forebears—who were too mired in concerns about facts, concerns about veridicality, and concerns about justice—we today, thanks to our Progressivist leaders, have discovered that facts, truth, and justice are incommodious albatrosses in the march for international human rights.
This is Wokeism. This is Progressivism. This is Historical Revisionism. This is Postmodernism. This is our moribund America. We have become platitudinous bromides, incapable of independent thinking. In the words of Aldous Huxley in Brave New World:
Everyone belongs to everyone else, after all. One hundred repetitions three nights a week for four years, thought Bernard Marx, who was a specialist on hypnopædia. Sixty-two thousand four hundred repetitions make one truth.
There is a similar situation at Monticello. It has been that way at Monticello for some 25 years. “Facts” have been plucked, like ticks off a mangy mongrel, to show that Thomas Jefferson is racist, hypocritical—in short, incurably facinorous. The problem is that those who run Monticello know otherwise, and they just do not care. They are on a mission to rid the world of racism, and if Thomas Jefferson, like Chauvin and the three other officers with him, must fall in the process, then, according to the calculus of Consequentialist morality, that is a paltry price to pay for social justice. As Joseph Stalin often noted, the loss of 10 innocent lives in the process of executing the guilty one is well worth the effort.
Yet, it is the Marxists at Monticello are racist, hypocritical, and incurably facinorous.
How did Monticello go from celebrating the life and accomplishments of Thomas Jefferson (viz., from the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation) to vilification of Jefferson and “sanctification” of, in my estimation, a very insignificant historical figure, Sally Heming (viz., to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation)?
The rot came with tenureship of Pete “Dude” Onuf to the post of Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation scholar at UVa in 1989—a post that he held till 2012. There is much damage one can do in 23 years, and damage Onuf did do. He put together late in 1992 a gloves-off conference at UVa, titled “Jeffersonian Legacies,” in which he gathered together his Revisionist, Postmodernist troops to reassess the life and legacy of Thomas Jefferson. None of the leading scholars of Jefferson were invited to the three-day conference. It was unabashedly presentist, revisionist, and postmodernist. Then-president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Dan Jordan vaunted that the contributors generated “polemical discourse, reasoned debates, brilliant insights, wild digressions, and even some egregious misinformation.” There were “revisionist zeal, presentism, and a tint of political correctness.”
That was Onuf’s agenda throughout his Acherontic tenure—I state this factually and not metaphorically—at UVa. The light of truth was to be no obstacle for his attempt to clean the Jeffersonian slate—the feculent stable of smelly, facts-based literature, according to Onuf—and begin again with wild narratives, untethered by the need for sticking to the facts. He once chided scholar Conor Cruise O’Brien for “pseudopositivism,” use of “original sources,” and for eschewing fabrication! In Onuf’s castigatory words, “No relativism, no constructivism, no ‘invented tradition,’ thank you, just the facts,” as if facts-grounded history were criminal. For Onuf, it is passé. Let us consider also that prior to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation’s assessment of the DNA study of 1998, Onuf co-edited a book (1999) on the implications of Jefferson’s paternity: Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson: History, Memory, and Civic Culture. Onuf has also poisoned the atmosphere at UVa and in Charlottesville with his vilifications of Jefferson throughout his years.
Onuf then invented Annette Gordon-Reed. He pushed through her book, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Travesty (1997), through UVa press and then began a partnership with her that remains strong till this day. It was a perfect pairing. Onuf, in my estimation, recognized that a black scholar, in sympathy with his detestation of Jefferson, could decuple the work of destroying Jefferson that he alone could do. Gordon-Reed too shared Onuf’s execration of facts. “In the end,” she says in “The Memoirs of a Few Negroes, “it will probably be left to novelists, playwrights, and poets, unencumbered by the need for footnotes, to get at the ultimate meaning of this story. That effort, done in the right way, will yield universal truths [sic] as important and real as any to be found in history books.” That claim is astonishingly vacant, but revelatory of the sort of acceptable nonsense that is today the norm. She won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner for a book that extended our “knowledge” of Jefferson’s insatiable lust for Hemings in a second book—what I consider to be historical fiction!
While Gordon-Reed’s library is filled with literary awards for her “brilliant” narratives on Jefferson’s racist and hypocrisy—she has three books on Jefferson and Hemings—my library is an awards-desert. I have no awards. I make no money from my publications. I have never been invited to speak at Monticello, Poplar Forest, or the Smith Center, for as now-vice president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Andrew O’Shaughnessy once said to me in an email, “You don’t dig in the same garden as the rest of us.” As author of 27 books (two as contributing editor) on Jefferson (see below for a complete list), I have been completely cancelled by the good folks at Monticello, who run the Smith Center and “Jeffersonian America” at UVa Press. Not one of my books has ever been seriously considered for publication by UVa Press. None of my books are at the gift shops at Monticello or Poplar Forest. I was once told by the good folks at Monticello that my work was “irrelevant.” Moreover, when I aimed to add my perspective on Jefferson on many of the websites at Wikipedia, I was banned!
Am I bitter?
Certainly. In addition to my scant retirement, I cut grass and do landscaping and other chores to pay my bills, while the current Thomas Jefferson Foundation scholar at UVa has written one book, and one fraught with numerous errors, on Jefferson.
Yet I am more saddened by the Wokeist “intellectual” climate that is decimating, if not annihilating, America. The American media and its schools are for the nonce irremediably anti-American Woke and it will continue to be anti-American Woke for many more years. Truth is perjury. Diversity, without aim, is the norm. Yet if one champions the platform of diversity of expressed views to create a collision of ideas with the aim of weeding out false narratives and working toward a true narrative, one is canceled.
What is the philosophical foundation for this Jeffersonian nonsense?
Following an endnote (#65) in Stephen Conrad’s essay, “Putting Rights Talk in Its Place,” in Onuf’s 1993 anthology, Jeffersonian Legacies, the answer is Richard Rorty’s Pragmatism. “In … a symposium panel discussion  at the University of Virginia, Richard Rorty eloquently made the case for setting aside questions of historical accuracy and philosophical justification in order to sustain the present-day cause of international human rights, a cause that has lately invoked the Jeffersonian tradition to profound effect.”
Yet I am a skeptic. I admit openly to being suspicious of anyone who thinks he knows better than do I concerning what is in my best interest. In that regard, I am unapologetically a Jeffersonian/Millian liberal.
I wish all my friends at Abbeville a Happy New Year!
Here is a complete list of my subversive publications, in reverse order of their publication, banned by the Monticello Marxists:
- Thomas Jefferson and His Younger Brother, A Study in Cosmopolitanism and Parochialism: Complete Correspondence with Critical Commentary, 2024
- Thomas Jefferson and Native Americans: Beneficent Paternalism or Genocide? 2023
- “The disease of liberty”:Thomas Jefferson, History, and Liberty, A Philosophical Analysis, 2023
- Thomas Jefferson: Guardian of the Natural Bridge, 2023
- Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on Virginia: A Prolegomena, 2023
- Thomas Jefferson and Maria Cosway: A Gordian Love Affair: Complete Correspondence with Critical Commentary, 2023
- Thomas Jefferson, Taste, and the Fine Arts, 2023
- Thomas Jefferson on Gardens, Poetry, and Music (contributing editor), 2022
- The Battle for Historical Truth about Thomas Jefferson: The Diary of a Canceled Scholar, 2022
- Thomas Jefferson in Paris: The Ministry of a Virginian “Looker on,” 2022
- The Scholars’ Thomas Jefferson: Vital Writings of a Vital American,2021
- Did Thomas Jefferson Really Father Sally Hemings’ Black Children? A Scholarly Analysis of the Historical and Genetic Evidence, 2021
- American Messiah: The Surprisingly Simple Religious Views of Thomas Jefferson,2020
- Rethinking Thomas Jefferson’s Views on Race and Slavery: “God’s justice can not sleep forever,”2020
- Thomas Jefferson: Psychobiography of an American Lion, 2020
- Thirty-Six More Essays, Plus another, on the Probing Mind of Thomas Jefferson,2020
- Thirty-Six Short Essays on the Probing Mind of Thomas Jefferson, 2020
- The Cavernous Mind of Thomas Jefferson, an American Savant, 2019
- Jefferson’s Bible: Text with Introduction and Critical Commentary,2018
- Thomas Jefferson, Moralist,2017
- Jefferson’s Political Philosophy and the Metaphysics of Utopia, 2017
- The Elusive Thomas Jefferson: The Man behind the Myths, 2017
- Thomas Jefferson’s Philosophy of Education: A Utopian Dream, 2014
- Thomas Jefferson: Uncovering His Unique Philosophy and Vision, 2014
- Thomas Jefferson and Philosophy: Essays on the Philosophical Cast of Jefferson’s Writings, 2013
- Framing a Legend: Exposing the Distorted History of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, 2013
- Dutiful Correspondent: Philosophical Essays on Thomas Jefferson,2013