In an era when ideologues rule the academic roost, it is not surprising that left-leaning agitators have demanded the removal of statues of our Founding Fathers. Some have now targeted a Thomas Jefferson statue on the campus of Hofstra University, a private university on New York’s Long Island.
Jefferson, our nation’s third president, was also the primary author of the Declaration of Independence.
Black Lives Matter activist and Hofstra University student JaLoni Owens — who incidentally goes by the name JaLoni Amor on Facebook — released a petition on March 17 calling for the statue’s removal, which stands in front of the Sondra and David S. Mack Student Center.
A portion of her petition reads, as Campus Reform reported: “While Jefferson’s architectural designs have gone on to inspire the designs of many American universities, Jefferson’s values aided in the construction of institutionalized racism and justified the subjugation of black people in the United States.”
The petition garnered nearly 770 signatures in 12 days.
Some are now pushing back.
Earlier this week, Hofstra University student Richard Caldwell launched a counterpetition of his own, titled “KEEP The Jefferson Statue at Hofstra University” — which has eclipsed the anti-Jefferson petition by 70 signatures in just two days.
“The Thomas Jefferson statue that stands in front of the Hofstra student center has recently become a major point of controversy,” says Caldwell’s petition. “A petition was started and a protest planned to bring it down. However, with all due respect, this would be a mistake.”
To be clear, Caldwell’s attempt is not an aim to gloss over Jefferson’s transgressions.
“When gazing back upon Thomas Jefferson today, we acknowledge his faults. But we must also remember we are standing here today because of him. We are allowed to petition and protest because of him. We live in a world dominated by freedom and democracy because Thomas Jefferson wrote the document that started it all,” says Caldwell’s petition.
“Thomas Jefferson certainly had his faults; there’s no denying it. But he was also someone who spearheaded abolition movements with legislation on both the state and federal level.”
LifeZette reached out to Caldwell for comment.
Here’s what he said via Facebook chat: “I was saddened, but not entirely surprised given the current political climate we live in. Thomas Jefferson certainly had his faults; there’s no denying it. But he was also someone who spearheaded abolition movements with legislation on both the state and federal level, including ending the transatlantic slave trade.”
Caldwell added: “I support equality for every race, religion, and gender. However, protesting this statue of someone [so] influential in the annals of history is not the fight that needs to be fought.”
Ahead of Friday’s “Jefferson has gotta go student protest,” Hofstra University issued the following statement, as Campus Reform reported: “The right to peaceful protest and assembly is at the core of our democracy. Hofstra supports our students’ right to engage in peaceful demonstrations about issues that matter to them. We look forward to continuing a civil exchange of ideas and perspectives on the subject.”
It seems at every turn, leftist agitators are determined to topple the statutes of individuals they find offensive. First it was Confederate monuments — now their sights are trained on our nation’s Founding Fathers.
It remains to be seen what comes next. But if the past is any indication of the future, the line, in all likelihood, will not be drawn narrowly.
Elizabeth Economou is a former CNBC staff writer and adjunct professor. Follow her on Twitter.