A compromise has been reached with activists demanding the U.S. government remove Thomas Jefferson’s statue from the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C. on account that he was a slave-owning rapist.
For many, the idea of removing a memorial to the author of the Declaration of Independence is a sacrilegious affront to our nation’s history and one of our Country’s greatest minds, while others are okay with it because he was still a slave-owning rapist even if he was really really smart or whatever. The two sides appeared to be at an impasse when representatives from both sides met over Zoom and worked out a compromise: The Jefferson Memorial will remain but the statue of Thomas Jefferson will be replaced with a 19-foot tall marble likeness of Daveed Diggs.
Having been tipped off that a Zoom call was scheduled between two diametrically opposed foes, this reporter attempted unsuccessfully to obtain an access code to the meeting.
“I want to be in the Zoom call where it occurs,” I emailed several people but no one got back to me. I even pretended to be from the New York Times but no one responded to that either, probably because I emailed them from my Hotmail account.
After the compromise was announced, The Plantain was able to speak to one of the activists advocating for the memorial to be removed.
“Look, no one can doubt that Thomas Jefferson was a brilliant man who was instrumental in our initial independence, or that he was able to articulate our Country’s greatest ideals. But that cannot be divorced from the fact that he did not live up to those ideals. He owned over 600 people, raped his captive Sally Hemings repeatedly, and insisted that provisions be written into our Constitution that codified systematic oppression to such an extent that we are still dealing with its repercussions today,” said activist Aaron Rivers. “But at the same time, Daveed Diggs was really great in Hamilton so if we’re going to have a memorial to Jefferson than we’re cool if it looks like Diggs.”
“We can’t just erase our Country’s history!” said Kenneth P. Armstrong, a self-proclaimed historical preservationist. “Thomas Jefferson is an important part of our Country’s history and his contributions should continue to be honored…but my god Daveed Diggs was just so wonderful in Hamilton.”
“I was initially real cross about the idea of taking down the Jefferson statue, but then I watched Hamilton over the weekend with my granddaughter who is visiting from New Hampshire and honestly it just exceeded every expectation I had,” said Mr. Amstrong.
When asked whether the use of Daveed Diggs’ image as the new standard for Jefferson’s likeness creates a false sense of history, Mr. Amstrong said he didn’t. “The monuments we have for our founders are all to some extent built on myths. Our Country’s origin story is in some ways as fictitious as Hamilton. In many ways Daveed Diggs’ performance is more representative of Jefferson than the canonized version of him we look up to now,” Armstrong observed before humming a bit from “It’s Quiet Uptown” as he thought about his son. “He moved to New Hampshire for work last year and I don’t get to see him as much as I’d like.”
But not everyone is happy with the compromise. Shortly after the Diggs compromise was announced, President Donald Trump vowed to protect the “better, white version of Thomas Jefferson” at all costs. When asked whether he had seen Hamilton and understood just how freaking good it was, the President said that he watched it over the weekend in bed with Ivanka and didn’t like it much. “Those leftest rebels were very rude to King George who was a very strong leader by the way,” the President tweeted before adding the hashtag “#ROYALHarassment” to a separate stand-alone message.