- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 2, 2003

Tom and Sally

“The New York Times is still perpetuating the myth of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, despite the weight of scholarly evidence. … The myth, first touted by a [would-be] postmaster … who turned to yellow journalism after Jefferson denied him patronage, resurfaced with a vengeance in 1998. Based on DNA evidence that indicated that a Jefferson male sired at least one of Hemings’ seven children, historian Joseph Ellis wrote an article in Nature claiming that the DNA fingered Thomas Jefferson himself. …

“[A] group of distinguished scholars was convened by the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society to examine the Hemings family’s case. After a yearlong investigation, the panel’s 550-page report concluded that the case rested on flimsy and even false evidence. The DNA merely showed that Hemings’ youngest son, Eston, was fathered by one of more than two dozen Jefferson males in Virginia at the time. The most likely culprit was Jefferson’s younger brother, Randolph.

“According to a contemporary slave’s account, Randolph spent his evenings at Monticello among the slaves, ‘dancing half the night.’”

Matthew Rarey, writing on “Cultural Revolutions” in the September issue of Chronicles

Barren education

“Visiting a high school … I talked to some wonderfully bright, articulate and sophisticated young women, 16, 17 and 18 years old. All had high-flying ambitions. They were going to be lawyers, doctors, CEOs, famous politicians. The one thing they may well not be is mothers. If present trends continue, perhaps two-thirds of these professional women will be childless by the time they reach their late 30s. And 90 percent of them will profoundly regret it.

“When they reach their late 30s, many may look back on the way they approached their most fertile and sexually powerful years and wonder why the only priority their education instilled in them was to rise to the top of their careers. …

“In America … it is in fact illegal for a career counselor to suggest, however gently, to a young woman that she may want to choose motherhood or family life. Title IX of the 1972 Education Act enforces ‘gender equity’ on all schools in receipt of federal funds. … And gender equity means, above all, that young women must become as hungry as men for careers, in order to steer them always from motherhood.”

James Tooley, from his new book, “The Miseducation of Women”

Khrushchev’s terror

“The first mystery about [Nikita] Khrushchev is how a man apparently so erratic and impulsive worked his way to the top of the Soviet pyramid. … He seemed to those around him to be a coarse, energetic little apparatchik who could be relied on to carry out brutal orders, too limited to pose any threat to his ambitious colleagues.

“Many years later, when he had risen to be one of the leading group in Moscow, Stalin treated him with a sort of condescending affection and let him get away with blunders which might have destroyed a more impressive figure. ‘My little Lenin!’ Stalin once mocked him, tapping his skull, ‘his head is hollow!’ But this reputation was the best possible protection for Khrushchev. Behind it, he was cunning and hugely ambitious. Those who assumed that somebody so ‘uncultured’ and naive was incapable of scheming found out their mistake too late. This was a clown with very slitty eyes indeed. …

“Khrushchev was at Stalin’s side throughout the worst period of the Great Terror. … From his time in charge of Moscow, only three out of the 38 top officials in the city and region, 10 out of 146 party secretaries and eight out of 63 elected members of the Moscow Party Committee survived. … ‘We must march across the corpses of the enemy towards the good of the people,’ he proclaimed and, spouting horrible abuse, cheered on the show trials of the old Bolsheviks.”

Neal Ascherson, writing on “Oo, Oo!” in the Aug. 21 issue of the London Review of Books

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