Vail Daily letter: Rewriting history
Jack Van Ens, in his column of June 6, compares Reagan to Jefferson in an unfavorable light as if to say that Jefferson represents “today’s” liberal persuasion regarding religion and education in “today’s” society; that is to say that Jefferson discouraged a national religion of any sort, but favored a national approach toward a broad and comprehensive educational system. Really?
Saying all of this, Van Ens implies that Jefferson’s political mindset is more in line with modern liberal philosophy because of this disparity between the two men. Let us further examine these differences. Number of slaves owned: Jefferson had over 100, Reagan owned none. Jefferson endeavored to establish a union between the colonies (states), and accordingly countenanced slavery and discrimination within the Constitution (circa 1787) to accomplish that end through compromise, whereas Reagan promoted and enforced the Constitution (circa 1980) with its amendments that expunged those egregious provisions. Jefferson favored federal control of education, under a Constitution that did not provide such authority, whereas Reagan found expressed authority only in the states under the 10th and 14th Amendments.
To cherry-pick the favorable attributes of one man (Jefferson), while ignoring his demerits in support of a liberal philosophy and agenda as Van Ens has articulated is to re-write history to suit his socialistic ends; to denigrate another (Reagan) in our day, because he recounts history as experienced and expressly written is disingenuous in the least. What Van Ens overlooks and ignores is that Jefferson had to cope with and address the issues of his day to form a nation and an American identity. Were he (Van Ens) to set aside his socio/religious sway and all things conservative, he would see that Reagan lived in an era two centuries apart, and endeavored to preserve a constitutional republic in a government inimical to that end. Who rewrites history and re-defines the American identity is not an enigma when Jefferson and Reagan are compared; it is not Reagan and his conservative constituents, but you, Mr. Van Ens.
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