Earlier this week, ESPN came under fire for swapping out commentator Robert Lee from a University of Virginia football game, out of fear that his name, which is similar to that of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, would trigger sensitive students and college football viewers.
Although the internet — myself included — scoffed at the idea that anyone would be offended by the mere name of an obviously-not-related-to-the-Confederacy Asian sportscaster, perhaps we were too generous to the student body of the University of Virginia.
As part of their effort to fight white supremacy on campus, students at the school issued a list of demands to their faculty and administrators, “suggestions” they say would go a long way to scrubbing the school’s — and Virginia’s — unsavory history from campus. Included among them? A demand that a statue of Thomas Jefferson, which stands in the middle of campus, be taken down.
“The statue of Jefferson serves as an emblem of white supremacy, and should be re-contextualized with a plaque to include that history,” the students wrote.
They also called for mandatory education on white supremacy, and a ban on “hate groups.”
The call to topple Jefferson echoes similar requests from across the country, all made, apparently, in an effort to prove President Donald Trump right: that the campaign against symbols of the Confederacy wouldn’t stop once all of the monuments to Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee had been removed from the public square, but would continue — only against every American historical figure who had done anything concerning to leftists and progressive warriors.
The call at the University of Virginia is worse, though, by measure: Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia, and stands in the central square because without his influence the school never would have become the educational powerhouse it is today. And while it is true that Jefferson owned slaves, the fact has been widely documented. Few people are unaware of Jefferson’s shortcomings, but most people understand them both in the context of Jefferson’s time, and in opposition to Jefferson’s legacy.
“Most people,” though, apparently, does not include students at Jefferson’s own University.