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Bari Weiss: Professor Condemns Removal of Thomas Jefferson from New York City Hall

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A political science professor denounces New York City’s move to remove a statue of Thomas Jefferson from City Hall as “outrageous” and detracts from the ideals of liberty and equality.

Samuel Goodman, writing about Bari Weiss’ Common sense substack newsletter, made the case in a piece titled “What We Lose When We Lose Thomas Jefferson.”

The statue had stood in the City Hall council chambers since 1834 after being donated by Uriah Phillips Levy, a naval officer and admirer of Jefferson.

Goodman, an associate professor of political science at George Washington University and a writer for The Week, called the move “outrageous” and argued that statue startup should be kept separate from removing Confederate monuments across America.

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

A writer and professor calls removal of Thomas Jefferson statue in New York City Hall (pictured above) ‘outrageous’

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

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

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

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

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

“However, the removal of the statue is not just an attack on Jefferson. As Princeton historian Sean Wilentz put it, “Monday’s New York City Council hearing to remove a statue honoring Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence — a serious blow, especially for the most vulnerable among us, for whoever Jeffersons calls for equality the last best hope.’

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ‘waged war’ on the country’s history by deciding to ban the statue of Founding Father Thomas Jefferson from City Hall – where it has been in charge of events for 187 years – following a request of his wife-led BLM committee.

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

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

Before the committee made its decision, Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams said he hoped the committee would consider “brightening underrepresented faces and communities” by removing the statue, and that he supported its removal.

“Putting aside these historical figures — problematic as they are — also sidelined or diminished the ideals they embodied and the many Americans who feel a deep and lasting connection with them,” Goodman continues.

Republican politicians were quick to scold the latest move to rewrite history by starting up 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 disappears into a portrait on a city hall wall,” Councilman Joe Borelli told the New York Post.

“I hope he’s gone for at least a few hundred years before someone cancels him.”

The statue has been in the New York City Council Chambers since 1915

The statue has been in the New York City Council Chambers since 1915

The statue had stood in the City Hall council chambers since 1834 after being donated by Uriah Phillips Levy, a naval officer and admirer of Jefferson.

Goodman sees Jefferson as a symbol of America’s founding fathers and likens it to another alleged founder of the country who has a holiday in his name.

‘[A]Columbus Day attacks are as misguided as removing the Jefferson statue. The holiday and memorials in many cities are not really about the Genoese explorer who served a Spanish king. They are confirmations of the presence of Italian-Americans in public life, not to mention the courage and adventurous spirit that led to the discovery of the New World.’

Goodman also points out that “the reduction of American history to a continuous narrative of racial oppression has a special price tag for the Jews.”

“A widely despised and persecuted people who thrived in America like nowhere else, Jews do not fit the sharp distinction between oppressor and oppressed that characterized ideological ‘anti-racism’,” 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 councilor and now a member of the state assembly that launched the campaign, is someone he and the… League against defamation consider anti-Semitic as his statements say that the ‘real’ Semites are black and that he is accusing Israel of genocide.

Goodman claims Barron is an anti-Semite based on his statements that the 'true' Semites were black, as well as statements he made against Israel

Goodman claims Barron is an anti-Semite based on his statements that the ‘true’ Semites were black, as well as statements he made against Israel

“The question for Councilor Barron and all the others who have made the removal of the statue their celebre is: By destroying the statue, do you mean to attack the man or the symbol? Do you mean to attack his slave ownership, or his pursuit of a free and democratic republic? Sometimes it’s hard to be sure,” Goodman said.

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 far-left or far-right who feel 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 rewritten. Obvious truths are dangerous to say out loud.’

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