As an early example of the flagrant effort to discredit Jefferson, see this article by Irish 'historian' and politico Conor Cruise O'Brien, which appeared in the October, 1996 Atlantic. O'Brien is quite explicit that Jefferson must be dethroned from his position of honor and must be eliminated from the American gallery of heroes.
O'Brien's article title makes his opinion plain: Thomas Jefferson, Radical and Racist.
He links Jefferson to the 'militia' movements, which the left were so hysterical about in the 1990s. What ever came of all the hype and scare stories, by the way? It was just leftist paranoid hype.
And more than that, O'Brien links Jefferson to the Klan, as being some kind of inspiration for them.
O'Brien talks about Jefferson as part of our 'American Civil Religion, Official Version', and how Jefferson must be detached from this and downgraded.
I believe that in the next century, as blacks and Hispanics and Asians acquire increasing influence in American society, the Jeffersonian liberal tradition, which is already intellectually untenable, will become socially and politically untenable as well. I also believe that the American civil religion, official version -- let me call it ACROV -- will have to be reformed in a manner that will downgrade and eventually exclude Thomas Jefferson. Finally, I believe that Jefferson will nonetheless continue to be a power in America in the area where the mystical side of Jefferson really belongs: among the radical, violent, anti-federal libertarian fanatics -- the very same paranoid conspirators against whose grasp President Clinton is rightly resolved to defend our sacred symbols.
The Impending Schism
As the twenty-first century advances, there will be changes within the American civil religion to correspond to great changes in the society itself. The multiracial character of the society will be increasingly realized, as significant numbers of blacks, Hispanics, and Asians move up the economic ladder. Women of all races will also be moving up, in many cases even faster and higher than the general rate of ascent of nonwhite people. In these circumstances ACROV will be needed more than ever, as a bonding force for a more and more visibly diverse society and polity. But within ACROV the cult of the Founding Fathers will be affected. The present campus assaults on the authority, in every field, of "dead white males" are often absurd, but they have their implications for the future, and in particular for the cult of the Founding Fathers.''
O'Brien talks about how the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are needed for this civil religion which he deems so essential in the new multicult America, but Jefferson, however, must be removed. His ideas simply were not politically correct and are not compatible with the new America of the left.
For many years Jefferson's real views concerning the future of blacks in America were hidden by soothing obfuscation best exemplified by the relevant inscription in the Jefferson Memorial. People were told that Thomas Jefferson was against slavery, and his words to that effect were quoted frequently. But people were not told that for Jefferson, black people had no future in America at all except as slaves. Once they ceased to be slaves, they were to be sent packing. Nor would other nonwhites be welcome (the American Indian excepted, whom Jefferson was at pains to "whiten"). Jefferson's bright vision of the future of America was a monoracial one: whites only.
It follows that there can be no room for a cult of Thomas Jefferson in the civil religion of an effectively multiracial America -- that is, an America in which nonwhite Americans have a significant and increasing say. Once the facts are known, Jefferson is of necessity abhorrent to people who would not be in America at all if he could have had his way.
It is safe to predict that the liberal-Jeffersonian tradition will become extinct fairly early in the coming century. The huge contradiction within that tradition with regard to race renders it unfit to survive in a multiracial society. But the inevitable rejection of Jefferson by liberals in a multiracial America will draw increasingly favorable attention to Jefferson on the far right. The very reasons for which liberals will have to reject him will compel the far right to adopt him. Or rather re-adopt him, for he was a hero to southern white supremacists.
Doctrinally, Jefferson is a patron saint far more suitable to white supremacists than to modern American liberals. The themes of states' rights and no free blacks in America fit the positions of the far-right militia movement like a glove. Tom Watson's old title The Jeffersonian could well be revived in the next century, and with the same racist content.
Rhetorically and emotionally also, the mystical Jefferson -- the Jefferson of the tree of liberty and of the French Revolution -- meets the needs of the modern far right. Jefferson's liberty, a powerfully emotive concept, unanalyzed and without intellectual content, is the kind of liberty the militias love: Burke's "wild gas" of liberty.''
Well, the 13 years since O'Brien wrote this screed have not proven him or his hero President Clinton to be accurate about the militia lurking in the shadows, but that has not caused any on the left to examine their failed prophecies.
O'Brien himself is no longer with us, having passed away last December. He was rather an enigmatic character; in this piece, he seemingly writes in the first person plural when discussing America, as though he were one of us, with a direct interest in the American future, however as far as I know he was an Irish citizen, who oddly seemed to be rather conservative as regards Irish politics. But whatever his motivations, he was not an American and moreover he sided with the anti-American left in this country.
But he isn't the story here; he merely represented the anti-Jefferson, politically correct group of 'scholars' and 'historians' who are little more than propagandists for political correctness and multiculturalism.
And though he is no longer with us, there are many others who carry on the relentless attacks on Thomas Jefferson's name and reputation.
O'Brien was wrong in his hype about the militias, but his predictions about the discrediting of Jefferson seem to have been borne out, and in no small part because of people like him working relentlessly to discredit not only Jefferson but all the 'dead White males' who founded this country.
Here is O'Brien's pronouncement about our future:
I believe that the orthodox multiracial version of the American civil religion must eventually prevail -- at whatever cost -- against the neo-Jeffersonian racist schism. That the orthodox version should prevail is vital not only for America but also for the future of nonracial democracy, and of Enlightenment values generally, in those parts of the world where these are now dominant or where people are struggling to bring them into effective being.''
And to O'Brien's comments, I say just the opposite: his aptly-described 'orthodox multiracial version of the American civil religion' must not prevail; it must go, because it is alien to America. It has no origin among the American people; it has been imposed on us from above, and it is accepted to the degree that it is accepted because of decades of massive indoctrination and propaganda. That artificially and undemocratically imposed belief system is in opposition to American founding principles, and to the very character of the tradition out of which the founding stock people emerged.
O'Brien, not being American, could probably not understand this. He should have let Americans decide for themselves which version of America would prevail; this country was begun so that Americans could decide their own future, among themselves, without outside interference and meddling.
It is a disgrace that a great man's name and character have been systematically maligned, all for the sake of pushing the 'nonracial democracy' that O'Brien seemed to think was absolutely imperative. I've found that even among the hard-right, there are many people who now believe the slanders about Jefferson and his supposed siring of children by a slave. It's become one of those things that ''everybody knows'' these days, though there has been no proof of it, nor even any persuasive evidence. The character assassins have been spectacularly successful over the last decade and a half, it seems.
Nicholas Stix has posted an article of his from 2000 on that subject. In it he does an thorough job of refuting the allegations, but I fear no amount of facts and counter-evidence will shut up the slanderers of Jefferson. They simply want to destroy his reputation and through him, to further discredit the Founders of this country and the White founding stock in general. And this must be countered if at all possible, though I suspect the damage is done and cannot be undone.
As for me, I will continue to try to combat the slanders, even though it seems to be a lost cause. But it is a personal thing for me, as well as a matter of principle.
Conor Cruise O'Brien and his leftist friends seem determined that Jefferson must be brought down so that their counterfeit version of America may live and thrive; that provides yet another reason to defend Jefferson. The left and their impostor America must not prevail. Jefferson would not have wanted their perverted system to replace his -- and our -- America. And we owe him, as well as our posterity, no less than a spirited effort to defend what he worked to establish.