If your Woke Sweepstakes Card includes, “Barack Obama, oppressor”, you just scored a jackpot in Waukegan, Illinois. An effort to rename two of its schools ran into a buzzsaw of opposition when the Waukegan Board of Education took public comments on the finalists for its Thomas Jefferson Middle School. The author of the Constitution will be removed from the school for his participation in slavery, but “Latinx” activists demanded that the names of Barack and Michelle Obama be removed from consideration, too.
“Obama is another oppressor,” one activist declared, and others called Obama the “deporter in chief” in objecting to the proposal (via the Daily Caller):
The country’s first Black President and First Lady, Barack and Michelle Obama, is one of the top three choices for the school’s new name, but is drawing opposition in the area with a large Latinx population.
“I will not be part of renaming a school after someone who did not and does not represent the undocumented community,” said District 60 school board member Edgar Castellanos. Castellanos said he came to the United States undocumented as a child. …
“From the time Barack Obama became President until 2017 when he left, he today is still the highest ranking president with deportations in our nation,” Contreras said. “We feel that Barack Obama did disservice to us. He denied us, and he didn’t stop the deportations, the way he promised.”
“If you’re removing the name of Thomas Jefferson – one oppressor – the name of Obama is another oppressor and our families do not want to see that name,” Contreras said.
Let’s not forget that Illinois was the Obamas’ home state during his presidency, and of course Obama represented the state in the Senate briefly previous to his terms in the White House. When you’re a progressive who isn’t woke enough in your own home state, that’s an impressive feat.
At least this is an example of assessing a leadership figure in the context of his own times, albeit rather unfairly. Applying a modern standard to Jefferson is absurd, even more so than calling Obama an oppressor for enforcement of laws Obama didn’t have anything to do with passing. Jefferson isn’t honored for perfection, nor for being a slaveholder, but for writing the Declaration of Independence, whose basic tenets created such profound contradictions to slavery that it eventually forced its end.
This episode makes it clear that autophagy is the hallmark of wokery. It is cultural Robespierrism on a grand scale, in which the only way to advance oneself is to denounce everyone else who fails to measure up in every single detail to the standard du jour. Today’s Robespierres should take very careful notice of that inevitable end result, and everyone else should resist the effort to play the game at all.
Update: This is an “ugh” moment. Of course Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution as I initially implied (which was written by James Madison). I’ve corrected it above, but the point about the contradictions still stands in the Declaration. Thanks to Jeff B for the heads-up on my brain fade.