- - Sunday, July 29, 2018

If Thomas Jefferson were to step out of a time machine at the University of Virginia, how would he react to the 21st-century version of his beloved creation?

He’d probably be pleased at the college’s growth and academic reputation. The campus remains one of the most beautiful in the world, reflecting much of his architectural plan. Jefferson designed the Rotunda, inspired by Rome’s Pantheon. The mall and colonnade bespeak the intended permanence of his “Academical Village.” Serpentine, one-brick-wide walls continue to delight visitors.

In 1987, the campus and nearby Monticello joined venues like the Acropolis and the Pyramids as a “World Heritage Site.” It is one of only two such places still operating as originally intended, according to the university website. This is no ordinary campus.

So, it was jarring last August when white supremacists and left-wing protesters clashed in the college’s host city of Charlottesville, ending in the death of a woman who was run down by a car driven by one of the white supremacists. President Trump’s comments that violence had been committed by both sides sparked outrage and allegations that he sides with white supremacists, a charge he categorically denies.

A month later, a mob put a black shroud on a campus statue of America’s third president and hung a banner saying “Black Lives Matter” and that “White Supremacy” should, as described in The Washington Times, “commit a sexual act.”

More recently, on April 13, as the university celebrated its annual Founder’s Day, vandals painted “RACIST + RAPIST” on a sitting statue of the author of the Declaration of Independence. This year marks the 275th anniversary of the birth of Jefferson, who allegedly fathered children with a slave, Sally Hemings, after his wife died.

College officials issued a statement saying they were “disappointed” over the defacement. “The university recognizes the complexities of Thomas Jefferson’s legacy and continues to explore them fully and honestly. U-Va. welcomes open and civil discourse on such important issues. However, acts of vandalism do not contribute to meaningful discussion.”

No, they don’t. These are serious crimes and part of the left’s campaign to erase American history and paint the United States as uniquely evil and in need of fundamental transformation.

The university’s mild reaction makes me ask, where is S.I. Hayakawa when we need him? The interim president of San Francisco State became a national icon when he leapt on a stage during an unauthorized protest in 1968 and ripped out the speaker wires. “Samurai Sam” went on to become a U.S. senator and drafted a constitutional amendment designating English as America’s official language.

Anyway, back at UVa., there was more turmoil last week. The college named Marc Short as a senior fellow at the Miller Center, a think tank focusing on presidential scholarship. Mr. Short, who earned an MBA at the university’s Darden School of Business, was Mr. Trump’s legislative affairs director before leaving on July 20. That made him Enemy No. 1. Or at least Enemy No. 6 or 7. There are so many enemies .

More than 1,000 faculty, students and others from “the university community” signed an online petition calling on the university to revoke the appointment. At least they didn’t vandalize statues of Jefferson.

A professor of media studies, better known as the Department of Fake News (just kidding), told The Washington Post that Mr. Short was “not a decent moral person.” The prof went on: “Someone who has worked directly for Donald Trump to execute policies that are basically inhumane and racist is beyond the line.”

Mr. Short said he saw “an irony” in people at Thomas Jefferson’s university “seeking to silence debate” and stopping “civil conversation.” A UVa. anthropology professor sent a scathing response letter to The Post, declaring:

“A person who participated in an administration that has built its success by debasing public debate and legitimating racist and nationalist hate speech cannot credibly be defended by an appeal for ‘civil conversation.’”

So, anyone associated with the Trump administration is unfit for any university office. Or any public office, for that matter.

Imagine that UVa., like two other American colleges, had welcomed instead on their faculty Angela Davis, a Communist Party member who preached political violence. Do we think for a moment that there would be a petition drive with 1,000 signatures opposing her? Or even 10?

UVa. sure is a pretty campus and would be a great place to have spirited conversations about which not everyone has to agree. Jefferson would have liked that.

• Robert Knight is a contributor to The Washington Times. His latest book is “A Strong Constitution: What Would America Look Like If We Followed the Law?” (djkm.org)

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide