Bari Weiss: Professor slams removal of Thomas Jefferson from New York's City Hall

A political science professor is slamming New York City’s move to remove a statue of Thomas Jefferson from City Hall as ‘disgraceful’ and diminishing the ideals of liberty and equality.

Samuel Goodman, writing on Bari Weiss’ Common Sense Substack newsletter, made the case in a piece titled ‘What We Lose When We Lose Thomas Jefferson.’

The statue had resided in the City Hall’s Council chambers since 1834 after it was gifted by Uriah Phillips Levy, a naval officer and an admirer of Jefferson’s. 

Goodman, an associate professor of political science at George Washington University and a writer for The Week, called the move ‘disgraceful’ and argued that booting the statue should be held separate from the removal of Confederate monuments across America.

‘Unlike monuments to Confederate leaders that display them in full military glory, Jefferson is depicted as a writer,’ Goodman wrote. ‘Holding a quill pen in one hand and the Declaration of Independence in the other, he is clearly being honored for composing an immortal argument for liberty and equality.’

A writer and professor is calling the removal of the New York City Hall's statue of Thomas Jefferson (pictured above) 'disgraceful'

A writer and professor is calling the removal of the New York City Hall’s statue of Thomas Jefferson (pictured above) ‘disgraceful’

Samuel Goodman (pictured above) is an associate professor of political science at George Washington University and writer for The Week

Samuel Goodman (pictured above) is an associate professor of political science at George Washington University and writer for The Week

Goodman was published by Bari Weiss (pictured above) in her Substack, Common Sense

Goodman was published by Bari Weiss (pictured above) in her Substack, Common Sense

New York City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus called the statue a monument to ‘the disgusting and racist basis on which America was founded.’ 

During a lengthy hearing Monday, the Public Design Commission voted to remove the statue before the end of the year, although the board could not agree on a new location. 

The request for its removal came from the Commission on Racial Justice and Reconciliation, led by outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife, Charlene McCray, after black staff complained about the statue that honors a slave owner. 

Goodman says that while it’s obvious Jefferson ‘didn’t live up to his own words,’ the statue’s removal is an attack on American values.  

‘The removal of the statue isn’t just an attack on Jefferson, though. As Princeton historian Sean Wilentz put it: ‘The New York City Council hearing on Monday to remove a statue honoring Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence — a serious blow, especially to the most vulnerable among us, for whom Jefferson’s cry of equality is the last best hope.’ 

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio ‘waged war’ on the nation’s history by deciding to banish the statue of Founding Father Thomas Jefferson from City Hall – where it has presided over events for 187 years – after a request from his wife-led BLM committee. 

The request for its removal came from the Commission on Racial Justice and Reconciliation, led by outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio's wife Charlene McCray (pictured above, right)

The request for its removal came from the Commission on Racial Justice and Reconciliation, led by outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife Charlene McCray (pictured above, right) 

Before the commission made its decision, Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams said that he hoped the commission would consider ‘uplifting underrepresented faces and communities’ by removing the statue, and that he supported its removal.

‘Sidelining these historical figures — however problematic they may be — also sidelines, or diminishes, the ideals they came to embody and the many Americans who feel a deep and abiding connection with them,’ continues Goodman. 

Republican politicians quickly railed against the latest move to rewrite history by booting the statue of the former president who wrote the Declaration of Independence.  

‘The de Blasio administration will continue the progressive war on history as he, himself, fades away into a portrait on a City Hall wall,’ Councilman Joe Borelli told the New York Post.

‘I hope he is at least gone a couple hundred years before someone cancels him.’

The statue has stood in the New York City Council chambers since 1915

The statue has stood in the New York City Council chambers since 1915

The statue had resided in the City Hall’s Council chambers since 1834 after it was gifted by Uriah Phillips Levy, a naval officer and an admirer of Jefferson’s. 

Goodman sees Jefferson as a symbol of America’s founding greatness and compares it to another of the country’s supposed founders having a holiday in his name removed. 

‘[A]ttacks on Columbus Day are as misplaced as removal of the Jefferson statue. The holiday and memorials in many cities aren’t really about the Genoese explorer who served a Spanish king. They are confirmations of the presence of Italian-Americans in public life, to say nothing of the courage and adventuresome spirit that led to the discovery of the New World.’

Goodman also points out that ‘the reduction of American history to an unbroken story of racial oppression comes at particular cost to Jews.’ 

‘A widely despised and persecuted people who thrived in America like nowhere else, Jews do not fit into the sharp distinction between oppressor and oppressed that characterized ideological ‘antiracism,’ he continues. ‘Therefore, Jewish experiences must either be ignored or reduced to a monolithic conception of white supremacy.’     

He notes that Charles Barron, the former councilmember and now state assemblymember who launched the campaign, is someone he and the Anti-Defamation League consider antisemitic given his statements say that the ‘real’ semites are black and that he’s accused Israel of genocide.    

Goodman claims Barron is an anti-semite based on his statements that the 'real' semites were black, as well as statements he's made against Israel

Goodman claims Barron is an anti-semite based on his statements that the ‘real’ semites were black, as well as statements he’s made against Israel

‘The question for Assemblyman Barron and everyone else who made removal of the statue their cause celèbre is: By destroying the statue, do you mean to attack the man or the symbol? Do you mean to attack his slave-holding, or his striving for a free and democratic republic? Sometimes, it’s hard to be sure,’ said Goodman.  

Weiss launched her Substack ‘Common Sense’ in 2020 after leaving the New York Times. She claims it’s for ‘tens of millions of Americans who aren’t on the hard left or the hard right who feel that the world has gone mad. Science is at the mercy of politics. Identity trumps ideas. In the name of progress, art is erased and history is rewritten. Obvious truths are dangerous to say out loud.’

source: dailymail.co.uk