Who promotes “woke” history?
If you’ve been to a museum or a historic site lately, you know that the central message is black people — how badly we treated them, and why the country would have gone nowhere without them. The New York Post recently ran a story called “Monticello is going woke – and trashing Thomas Jefferson’s legacy.”
It could have been about any historic home, but Monticello, which has been on the nickel since 1938, has gone all out.
In the visitors’ center – the first place you go – there is a painting of Jefferson’s slaves, gathered round a dirt mound, weeping.
The first Monticello room you enter, the parlor, has been brought up to date with this painting of a faceless black man, which was commissioned for Juneteenth. The label says that “hands and face of featureless tar” represent “the faceless lives of all who served in bondage, witnessing but never recognized.”
It was painted by a black man – of course – whom Time magazine commissioned to paint this impression of the Ferguson riots.
Everywhere you go in Monticello, labels jabber about “enslaved people” – not slaves. You see, “slave” might sound like something inherent, while “enslaved person” suggests a cruelly imposed status. So, I guess we must now talk about “imprisoned people” rather than “prisoners,” and “people engaged in crime” rather than “criminals.”
The Monticello website is obsessed with slavery. Take the page called “Music and the Monticello Household.”
The first thing you scroll down to is “Music and Monticello’s Enslaved Community,” which explains that slaves created “a distinctly American musical tradition.”
Monticello preaches leftist guff about Sally Hemings. On its webpage about Thomas Jefferson and his slave, the very first sentence is “Years after his wife’s death, Thomas Jefferson fathered at least six of Sally Heming’s children.”
This is straight-up calumny. For a host of reasons carefully explained in this book and in this one, there is only one Hemings child who we know carried Jefferson DNA, and the father was overwhelmingly not likely to have been Thomas but his younger brother Randolph. Jefferson-haters love to think Monticello was an illicit love nest because they can make out Jefferson – who opposed miscegenation – to be a horny old hypocrite.
The New York Post reports that there is an audio presentation on Jefferson and Sally in a basement room with a sign that warns: “Be prepared to enter a dark, windowless room.” The presentation “covers difficult subject matter and can inspire strong emotions . . . . We encourage you to respect the feelings of your fellow guests.” Are we supposed to think the president dragged Sally down there and raped her, so we should be sympathetic when people start sobbing? The room has nothing to do with Sally. It’s well known that she had her own cabin.
It seems that every year, “Monticello adds new events to Black History Month programming.
I’m sure Jefferson celebrated Black History Month. Here, the website brags about a government grant to “improve digital infrastructure for the archeological study of slavery.”
I didn’t know it needed digital infrastructure, but it apparently was short \$325,000. And wouldn’t you know it: “Monticello Launches New ‘Slavery at Monticello’ app.”
It says you can meet slaves and their descendants, who turn out not to be “featureless tar,” after all. They are the people you are supposed to care about, not Jefferson.
The tour guides spout this stuff like parrots, but some visitors aren’t buying it. Here are comments from Trip Advisor:
James Madison’s house, Montpellier has had the very same makeover.
You can still tour the house and see what it looked like in Madison’s day, but the story is now all about the slave cabins and who lived in them.
This marker points the way to “The mere distinctions of colour” exhibits.
There you get a spooky display on slave breeding, and here is a reminder that slaves made bricks that were used at Montpellier.
Tour guides can’t shut up about how awful Madison was, as these visitors noticed:
Just as in Monticello, the bookstore is full of titles, such as Ibram Kendi’s Anti-Racist Baby so you can instill contempt for the Founders in your own children.
What do Monticello and Montpelier have in common? They have taken millions of dollars from a finance billionaire named David Rubenstein. In 2015, before it went insomniac woke, Monticello announced a grant of “an additional \$10 million gift from David M. Rubenstein” – which brought his total to \$20 million – “to tell the stories of people — enslaved and free.”
The release goes on to say that “the gift will enable Monticello to finish the restoration of the landscape of slavery,” and that the visitor center would be renamed in Mr. Rubenstein’s honor.
And, what do you know? James Madison’s home Montpellier has a David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center, too, which it got for spitting on the memory of the former owner.
The New York Post calls Mr. Rubenstein “the woke billionaire who trashed the Founding Fathers.”
You see, as Wells Fargo Bank explains, Mr. Rubenstein’s “true passion is what he calls ‘patriotic philanthropy’.”
He has a website that lists other historical sites he has gingered up, including Mount Vernon, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument.
Not to mention the \$12.35 million he gave to restore Arlington House.
That is where Robert E. Lee lived before the Civil War and his memorial is there. You can imagine what fun Mr. Rubenstein had with that.
And just this spring, he chipped in \$15 million for the US Holocaust Museum.
As museum chairman Stuart Eizenstat said at the time, “Education about our history is vital for our democracy’s future.”
Guess who the man’s buddies are? Last year, Joe Biden spent Thanksgiving at a private equity billionaire’s Nantucket home.
That was Mr. Rubenstein, whose island hideaway is worth \$20 million.
You can do interesting things when you’re worth \$3.4 billion. The “About David” page on his website says he has been chairman of the Kennedy Center, the National Gallery of Art, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Smithsonian. He’s on the Harvard Corporation, and is a trustee of Johns Hopkins Medical School and of the World Economic Forum.
I’m sure he practices patriotic philanthropy wherever he goes.
He’s got a book called The American Story, which is no doubt full of love for America.
But it’s not all smooth sailing. Just this spring, the Harvard student newspaper wrote, “If Harvard Wants to Lead on Climate, It Must Drop David Rubenstein, from the Harvard Corporation.”
It said his company, The Carlyle Group, has environmentally dirty partnerships.
But what kind of country takes money from a billionaire to drag its greatest men though the mud? To belittle them, make false claims about them, fill their beloved homes with insults? What country has ever taught its people to despise its own beginnings – and call it “patriotic philanthropy”?
Americans used to love their country. David Rubenstein is certainly giving them reasons to hate what their country has become.