The conservative freakout

Media Matters did a roundup of right-wing media fussing about Mentioning Slavery At Monticello.

The right-wing media ecosystem is expressing outrage following a New York Post story that Monticello, the estate of Thomas Jefferson, is teaching visitors that the principal author of the Declaration of Independence enslaved hundreds of people.

Note that the outrage isn’t because it’s not true. The outrage is because we’re just supposed to shut up about it. But why should we do that?

The conservative freakout seemingly started with a July 4 tweet from Jeffrey A. Tucker, who complained of “aggressive political messaging” at Monticello. Tucker, who is the president of the Brownstone Institute — formed in May 2021 to oppose COVID-19 precautions — also wrote a column the same day for the conspiracy theory website The Epoch Times complaining about his visit there. The New York Post picked up the story and interviewed Tucker for its July 9 article titled “Monticello is going woke — and trashing Thomas Jefferson’s legacy in the process.”

But Jefferson is the one who “trashed his legacy” by enslaving people.

Fox News devoted multiple cable segments, a digital article, and a podcast episode to expressing outrage over the estate teaching this history: 

On the July 10 edition of Fox & Friends Weekend, co-host Pete Hegseth said that the “people behind the foundation that runs it [are] all leftists” and that “they’re committed to telling the worst story of America.” Co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy replied, “This is a diabolical plan on their part to populate these positions that have influence over how America tells its story.” 

On July 11, Fox & Friends First also aired a segment highlighting the Post story, featuring Carol Swain, who has previously defended white nationalists. During the interview, she claimed Monticello is trying “to destroy” Jefferson’s legacy. 

But this is his legacy. It’s their legacy. It’s the story of this country – a combination of revolutionary ideals and ruthless exploitation, removal, genocide, entrenched racism, imperialist wars. That’s it, that’s the legacy. Throwing a big hairy blanket over it can’t change that.

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