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Saturday, July 25, 2015 08:14 am

Embarrassing ancestors

 In “Naming rights and wrongs,” I discussed, but did not settle, a question raised by Rick Miller of Capitol Fax, to whit, whether government facilities and entities in Illinois should be allowed to reflect historical incidents, doctrines or individuals that some members of the polity regard as odious. The entity he had in mind was Calhoun County, which was named to honor South Carolinian senator John C. Calhoun, who in his later years was an apologist for slavery and a preacher of secession.

Since then, according to Ed Kilgore at The Washington Monthly, the state Democratic Party in Connecticut responded to pressure from the NAACP by agreeing to change the name of its annual fund-raising Jefferson Jackson Bailey Dinners to eliminate references to the two presidents.

Jefferson and Jackson, like Calhoun, were slaveholders. Jackson also championed virtual genocide against Native Americans. Jefferson was the father of the “constitutional conservatism” that is the intellectual foundation of the Tea Party movement. Enough, thought Kilgore, to make those two gentleman no longer apt symbols of a modern, multiracial party.

 About Jackson, for exasmple, Kilgore said this in a follow-up post

If conservatives want to worship at his or at Jackson’s altar, then let them be the ones who have to deal with embarrassing contradictions of their own convictions—not just their complacency about slavery and racism but their hostility to economic elites. If we have to have names on fundraising dinners, then they should be the names of those who can be quoted today, right now, without fear or deception. And this shouldn’t be an especially controversial proposition.


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