KEEP The Jefferson Statue at Hofstra University
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The Thomas Jefferson statue that stands in front of the Hofstra student center has recently become a major point of controversy. The main point surrounding it, is the claim that it should come down. A petition was started and a protest planned to bring it down. However, with all due respect, this would be a mistake.
As we sit here, almost 250 years later, we see a country that has grown exponentially. Are we without are problems? No, we're not, but no one is perfect. What should be remembered, though, is that Democracy was not always the status quo. In fact, for thousands of years, tyranny rained supreme as the most widely used form of government. Thomas Jefferson wrote the document that changed all that. The Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson and put forth the idea that freedom and Democracy should ring loudest. It brought forth not just a new Republic in the United States, but showed the world that tyranny could be defeated. Other countries such as France would follow suit, and now Democracy is the widest form of government in the world. But it all started with that document, written by Thomas Jefferson.
As we look back on history, we realize that Jefferson was not perfect. He was flawed by the times he lived in. I think all of us can agree, without a doubt, slavery and racism are atrocities that have no place in the world. However, slavery was a sad fact of the times, and something that all white men of Jefferson's status simply participated in. It wasn't right. It shouldn't have been. But unfortunately, it was. Despite this, Jefferson did not fully agree with it. It is well documented his abolitionist views. He put forth pieces of legislation in Virginia and on the national level to try and stymie slavery, even ending the Transatlantic slave trade. He believed slavery was the biggest threat to the Union of the United States, something he was right about when the Civil War began.
Even if we choose to ignore Jefferson's accomplishments, and focus on only on the bad, we hurt the fight for modern day equality. Equality is a right, and and I believe the majority of people today believe in that notion. However, there are also many people who believe in that notion and also see Thomas Jefferson as a hero, for founding the very country we live free in today. To shun them, to one sidely demand the removal of this statue, to refuse conversation from the opposing side who believes it should stand, only divides us more. The statue stands as a conversation starter. Those who disagree with it can openly display their views and have a conversation as to why, and the opposing side who want it to stand hold that right as well. But instead of the dividing us with one-sides politics, conversation leads to an understanding, and hopefully the thought of equality for all.
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. To take down this statue of him would be a sad removal of a figure influential in the annals of history, for a myriad of reasons. We must use the statue as a conversation starter, and a reminder, of how we can all achieve greatness, but how no one is perfect. And we can hope that the ideal he set forth of "all men are created equal" is a guiding light for everyone, no matter what race, religion, or gender, to be equal.
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