Fox News was criticized after dedicating a segment to complaining Monticello—historic primary plantation residence of Thomas Jefferson—is trying to guilt people by educating guests about slavery.
In particular,Fox & Friends weekend hosts Rachel Campos-Duffy and Pete Hegseth pointed to a recent New York Post article that accused Monticello—currently owned and operated by the nonprofit Thomas Jefferson Foundation that teaches guests about the plantation's history as well as Jefferson's life—of "going woke" by teaching the truth about slavery.
According to Hegseth, Monticello is now all about “how terrible Thomas Jefferson was because he was a slave owner” and presents a “one-sided point of view that makes Thomas Jefferson a bad guy in his own home.”
Campos-Duffy, meanwhile, said that while the history of slavery is "a terrible history we should talk about," she insisted that "we should not feel guilty or ashamed of our leaders when we go and visit the people who brought us the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence."
You can hear what they said in the video below.
Slavery was in fact a brutal legal institution, comprising the enslavement of Blacks who were kidnapped from their homes and families and forced to reside in a foreign land where they served as the economic backbone of the American South.
The treatment of slaves in the United States varied widely depending on conditions, time, and place, but in general it was brutal, especially on plantations. Whippings and rape were routine. The asymmetrical power dynamics between enslaved Blacks and White slaveowners gave Whites both the de facto and de jure freedoms to bend their property to their will.
Jefferson was a wealthy landholder and slaveowner who used slave labor for his household, plantation, and workshops. Approximately 100 slaves lived at Monticello at any given time.
While Jefferson was noted to have misgivings about slavery, he was open in his belief that emancipation should be a gradual process and was for the most part publicly silent on the issue of slavery and emancipation during his presidency.
Scholars remain divided on whether Jefferson truly condemned slavery and how he changed and there still persists controversy in regard to whether there was a sexual relationship between Jefferson and his slave and sister-in-law, Sally Hemings, and whether he fathered some or all of her six recorded children.
In June 2018, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation opened an exhibit titled Life of Sally Hemings, and affirmed that it was treating as a settled issue that Jefferson was the father of her known children.
Many have criticized Fox News in the wake of the segment.
The Fox News segment criticizing the exhibits at Monticello is part of a wider trend among conservatives to rewrite some of the bloodiest and darkest moments in American history.
False claims schools have been teaching critical race theory to young children have also inflamed hostilities among the right-wing, particularly since the publication of The 1619 Project, which repositions the consequences and legacy of slavery as elements vital to the historical narrative.
Critical race theory is a body of legal and academic scholarship that aims to examine how racism and disparate racial outcomes have shaped public policy via often implicit social and institutional dynamics.
Although critical race theory is just one branch of an incredibly varied arena of academic scholarship, it has nonetheless galvanized critics and threatened to obfuscate nationwide discussions about racial reconciliation, equity, and justice.