Political correctness is destroying America. It is a cancer that is attempting to whitewash our history, our culture, our legacy. It's a disease that threatens free thought, free expression, and free choice. Allowed to spread, it will kill the patient.

Political correctness has led to the Charlottesville, Virginia City Council voting to discontinue the April 13 holiday to commemorate the birth of the nation's third president and the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson. You see, Jefferson, like most men of property in his time, owned slaves. Never mind that without Jefferson there might not have been a Louisiana Purchase, freedom of religion or the University of Virginia.

Rather than celebrate Jefferson's birthday, Charlottesville will instead establish Liberation and Freedom Day, to be celebrated each March 3. The holiday commemorates the day U.S. Army forces arrived in Virginia in 1865 towards the end of the Civil War.

The nation's first president George Washington also owned slaves and for that reason, the San Francisco Board of Education has voted unanimously to cover over a 90-year-old, 13-panel series of murals illustrating Washington's life on the walls of a San Francisco high school. This will cost taxpayers some $845,000. Without Washington to lead the Continental Army during the American Revolution, things may have turned out quite differently. Washington also founded the U.S. Navy.

By the way, did you know that even Ben Franklin owned slaves?

As Nike pulls its Betsy Ross flag sneaker from store shelves because Colin Kaepernick was offended by it, let's put things into perspective. The British introduced slavery to our shores long before there was any thought about a revolution. They owned slaves, they captured slaves and they sold slaves. The French were also into slavery. That was the way of the world back then. Doesn't make it right nor does it excuse it, but it is fact.

Thomas Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration of Independence called for emancipation. It was stricken by Southern slave owners. But Jefferson wrestled with the slavery issue throughout his life and fought to end the importation of new slaves and the spread of slavery into newly-incorporated states.

Slavery was and still is abhorrent. The ownership of one human being by another is beyond comprehension–by today's standards. But that wasn't always the case. Jefferson, Washington and yes, even Franklin lived by the rules of their day. A lot has changed since then, thankfully, but we cannot undo the past. All we can do is learn from it.

Jefferson, Washington, and Franklin were not bad men. In fact, all three were very good men. Without them, the world would be a very different place today. We would not be the nation and the people that we are if not for them.

Jefferson, Washington, and Franklin deserve to be honored for their contributions to the world. Their legacies, the good and the bad, must be preserved intact for everyone to understand their full and honest impact.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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