Know When to Keep Quiet

For the past few months (on & off; mostly off, considering all the drama in my life this year), I’ve been working on a series of posts based on a book I read – Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham.  They were to be quotations from – & about – Thomas Jefferson, on a variety of topics, which I found meaningful.

I already had some reservations about promoting this book.  Meacham is a great writer, who makes his protagonist – the 3rd U.S. President – a very likeable “character.”  He covers his flaws & missteps, making Jefferson delightfully “just like us.”

However, he fails to discuss Jefferson’s actions (as a slave owner & rapist) that we now hold intolerable in any depth.  It’s almost like there’s an air of indifference – “that’s just how things were back then.”  This alone made me pause.

Now, considering the tragedy & outrage in – & about – Charlottesville, Virginia, I’m putting this project on hold.  Indefinitely.

Hopefully it won’t take me another few months to work up something worth sharing.

Stay safe out there in this crazy world.  ❤

11 thoughts on “Know When to Keep Quiet”

  1. It’s often easy for use to dismiss inhumanity and abominble acts through the lens of the present, but given that it’s being revealed to more and more that our present is not nor cannot be divested from its past, I’m glad to see things like this being called out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we also understand these acts as inhumane & abominable (at least, I do, where Jefferson is concerned) through the lens of the present too. I’m sure, during his lifetime, having slaves & raping them was commonplace. Sally Hemings was actually his wife’s half-sister, the product of her father raping his own slaves, & Jon Meacham noted that Jefferson found her attractive due to her looking like his wife; so, he must have known her parentage. Today, it blows my/our mind/s that this was an acceptable – or, at least, not condemned – practice.

      So, in a way, seeing it through the present’s lens could be positive. It compels me (at least) to discuss it & learn from it. We all have to understand, exactly like you said, that we can’t stick our heads in the sand & say, “It happened, it’s over, let’s ignore it.” That’s how history repeats itself. :-/

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The sad thing is that that’s the response from some people. Obviously we can’t change the past, but saying “get over it” is equal parts manipulative and equal parts just horribly unempathetic. It’s easy to say “get over it” when you’re not the one it targets, but our culture is rife with this language of dismissal.

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      2. Those people are awful human beings. Something tells me that some of those people are the same ones who demand we keep these G-d awful statues up because “history.” As if we couldn’t remember historical events (OK, so few people do, but that’s because history classes are usually boring & full of lies) without constant reminders that harm others.

        Plus, it’s like you said – our present can’t be divested from the past. It’s still affecting people, negatively & positively (usually depending on one’s skin color, gender, religion, etc., unfortunately), so we need to discuss it. By which, I mean, we need to shut up & listen to people who have different perspectives & experiences than ourselves. Hence, the title of this post! (I didn’t mean to bring it around to the original point, but it worked out nicely! lol)

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      3. Omg exactly, exactly what you said. I saw one of the best memes about how history can be found in a book, and you’re right about history. It’s very biased, because the winners write history books, and everything is so whitewashed and ugh.

        There’s a philosophy called Last Thursdayism that, while ridiculous in its supposition that the universe was created last Thursday exactly as it is at the present moment, really captures the idea that there are people who think like this.

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      4. Exactly! One of my favorite college professors (whose name I wish I could remember every single day, but my memory is so awful) recommended a book called Lies My Teacher Told Me : Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen (proof of how bad my memory is – I had to look up the title even though I remembered it 2 seconds ago! LOL). It’s a real eye-opener.

        I mean, I wish inequality would magically go away, but I know (& smart people know) it isn’t going to happen. We have unconscious biases that we have to tackle. Admitting there’s an issue is the first step, & so many people are unwilling to even do that much.

        Something makes me think that “Last Thursdayism” started out as a joke & it built up a following after a while. LOL It sounds absolutely ridiculous. How these people can stick their heads in the sand would be laughable if it wasn’t such a dangerous way to think. I can understand people not wanting to feel bad for what their ancestors or other people who lived in the U.S. before them (AKA, white guilt), but to discount people’s experiences so completely & without question makes me think they want to ignore it.

        (It’s so annoying when you’re writing a great comment & hit send too soon! I’ve done it too many times to count. 🙂 )

        Liked by 1 person

      5. There’s a phenomenon on the internet where something is either utterly asinine or the epitome of brilliant satire. Like the Flat Earthers. Their claims are so ridiculous, it’s hard not to wonder if they’re just playing the long game on a bad joke. The Last Thursdayists are the same. I think the phrase is now meant to invoke the idea that people don’t think about history or how we got to where we are.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I’m very familiar with this phenomenon! I help co-admin a political page on Facebook & I can’t tell you how many times I’ve re-posted an article, thinking it was genuine, only to have our readers inform me it was satire.

        That’s the problem nowadays, I think – The truth is starting to be so strange & unbelievable that it’s easily confused with satire. Either people are incredibly stupid (which is sad, considering the wide-spread access to information), or a lot of them like to screw with others.

        Is it that they don’t think about history or how we got here, or that they’re ignoring it on purpose? I think both are true, depending on the person.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Gah, I hit “send” before I wanted to. I wanted to read back through my comment lol. Anyway, the idea is that most people don’t think about the present as having sprung from the past. They don’t realize that you can’t have a better future if you don’t resolve it. They just want the inequality to just magically go away, but that’s never going to happen.

        Liked by 1 person

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