‘Over time, you develop and evolve on the things you choose to honor … Jefferson is more problematic…’
(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg said that as the mayor of South Bend, Ind., he supports efforts to remove Thomas Jefferson’s name from buildings, honors, and events, calling it “the right thing to do.”
In an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, Buttigieg said Jefferson’s past as a slave owner was controversial and not worthy of certain honors, specifically the annual Democratic fundraiser, the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.
“Well, let’s go to policy now—a very blunt question because you talk about going to every Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Indiana when you were running statewide. Should Jefferson-Jackson dinners be renamed everywhere because both were holders of slaves?” Hewitt asked.
“Yeah, we’re doing that in Indiana,” Buttigieg replied. “I think it’s the right thing to do.”
Buttigieg then gave a half-hearted defense of the former president and founding father, calling him “problematic.”
“Over time, you develop and evolve on the things you choose to honor … Jefferson is more problematic. There’s a lot of course to admire in his thinking and his philosophy, but then again if you plunge into his writings, especially the notes on the state of Virginia, you know that he knew slavery was wrong,” he said.
Jefferson deserves respect because of his influence as a founding father, Buttigieg said, but naming events after him is a different story.
“We are all morally conflicted human beings,” Buttigieg said. “The real reason I think there is a lot of pressure on this is the relationship between the past and present that we’re finding in a million different ways that racism isn’t some curiosity out of the past that we’re embarrassed about but moved on from.
“It’s alive. It’s well. It’s hurting people and it’s one of the main reasons to be in politics today is to try to change or reverse the harms that went along with that.”