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The Woke Mob Comes for James Madison

The Woke Mob Comes for James Madison

“The professional race-mongers have had their innings with Jefferson, Washington, and other founders who have been weighed and found wanting. Now it is Madison’s turn.”

As Americans, we must reject this in a loud, unified voice.

From the New Criterion:

The mob comes for Madison

If chattel slavery hadn’t existed in the United States, the Left would have had to invent it. What we mean is that the idea of slavery has become so dear to the disciples of identity politics that without its moral sanction they would be lost. Absent the original sin of slavery, the entire racialist racket that holds our society hostage would sputter to an inglorious halt. The race hustlers promoting “affirmative action” (i.e., race- or sex-based discrimination) would be out of business, as would the real-estate magnates and firebugs of Black Lives Matter. Ditto the angry historical fantasists behind The 1619 Project. Forget that most societies practiced slavery throughout history. Is anyone asking for “reparations” because their ancestors may have been enslaved by the Egyptians, the Persians, the Greeks, or the Romans? Forget that slavery ended in the United States more than one hundred and fifty years ago because Abraham Lincoln prosecuted a brutal civil war to keep the country together and end the “peculiar institution,” which was not peculiar at all. (When, by the way, will slavery end in Islamic society, or India, or China?) The world has had numerous long-distance trades in slaves of different phenotypes. Most of the West African slaves who made their way to America were sold into servitude by black African slavers…

It is a thriving concern, and its latest victim is James Madison, the coauthor of The Federalist, principal drafter of the U.S. Constitution, and fourth president of the United States. Madison, you see, like many of America’s founders, owned slaves. He disapproved of the institution of slavery, but he never freed his own slaves, not during his lifetime nor in his will. Moreover, he acquiesced to its recognition in the Constitution because (as he put it in 1788) “Great as the evil [of slavery] is, a dismemberment of the union would be worse.” This, by the way, is essentially the same position Lincoln maintained in the run-up to the Civil War.

The professional race-mongers have had their innings with Jefferson, Washington, and other founders who have been weighed and found wanting. Now it is Madison’s turn. The occasion is the takeover of Madison’s Virginia home, Montpelier, by the revisionist race lobby. Madison died practically bankrupt, and his widow had to sell Montpelier soon after his death in 1836. The property was acquired by the National Trust for Historical Preservation in 1984 and restored to its original lineaments as a “monument to the Father of the Constitution.”

That was the initial idea, anyway. As Eric Felten shows in “Whose Montpelier Is It Anyway?,” an essay written for RealClearPolitics, Madison’s home has been enlisted as a synecdoche in the game of racialist delegitimization. It’s been going on for some years. Already in 2017, a permanent exhibition called “The Mere Distinction of Colour” opened in the basement galleries of Montpelier as well as the South Yard of the campus. The exhibition draws on testimony from descendants of those enslaved at Montpelier to “explore how the legacy of slavery impacts today’s conversations about race, identity, and human rights.” The title of the exhibition comes from Madison himself, who mournfully observed that “the mere distinction of colour” had provided “the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man.”


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