For the Foundation of American Liberty film series, Dr. Jerry Newcombe interviewed Dennis Prager on September 11, 2019 and Rabbi Daniel Lapin on March 2, 2022. Here are two of their insightful remarks on the issue of American slavery.
People say, well, Jefferson had slaves, but that’s not the question. The question is: did Jefferson create a society that would abolish slavery? That’s the only intelligent question to ask. Not what did that person do that contravened their ideal. What did they do that affected the society in light of their ideal? When he wrote, all men are created equal, he meant it, even though he had slaves. Did he violate his own beliefs that he had with regard to blacks? Yes, of course he did, but that’s not the issue. That’s between Jefferson and God. Between Jefferson and me is, look at what he unleashed, the freest country in human history, the least racist country in human history is the United States of America. This was unleashed by these people.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin:
It’s always very disappointing that the intellectual level of those who constantly pose this question to me, it’s just frankly disappointing when people say, oh, you know, Jefferson was a slave owner or speaking of many of the other founders, as well as Jefferson, as if somehow to discredit these people. And the reason I say it’s disappointing is because one really doesn’t need an understanding much above what a middle school should provide to understand that a judicial system cannot function by rendering illegal, retroactively, something that was legal at the time it was actually done. Our tax law is founded on this, our criminal law founded on this. And so it’s almost a childish and pathetic attempt to discredit these giants by the pigmy-like behavior of suggesting that because their behavior at the time, corresponded to the values at the time that somehow retroactively from the vantage point of 200 years later, we can declare these people to have been invalid or we can cancel them to employ the colloquial pathetic terms. This reflects far more on the critics than it does on the founders.
Dennis Prager (and Jerry Newcombe)
Rabbi Daniel Lapin