All of these sad little whelps of, “George Washington was a slaveowner! Benjamin Franklin was a sexist! And I’m not, I’m not! I’m better, mommy, right? Say I’m better and you love me more!” make me feel vicarious embarrassment.
Washington and Franklin believed things that were normal and acceptable in their age. And so do the sad whelpers. But Washington and Franklin achieved something aside from that, and this means that the thirst of the whelpers for praise and recognition will not be quenched.
This is, of course, as oedipal as it gets. A little boy discovers that daddy is not perfect and can be fought for mommy’s affections. A little girl discovers that mommy isn’t perfect, etc. To make the conflict that tortures them as obvious as possible the sufferers concentrate on those known as “founding fathers.”
None of this does anything for racial justice. It’s not outwardly oriented at all. If a person with OCD touches a photo of MLK 5 times as part of his anxiety-reducing exercises, none of this has a political meaning. It’s part of his individual pathology.
Remember, substituting politics (i.e. acting together for common good) with exhibitions of unshareable individual pathologies is neoliberalism’s way of destroying public life. People think they are very politicized when in reality they lead the most apolitical existence imaginable.