Must We Burn George Washington?

Dr. Munr Kazmir
5 min readDec 27, 2021

Should some subjects be off-limits for the good of humanity?

Photo by Library of Congress on Unsplash

History can be a very strange place. The further back we go, the odder things seem to our modern sensibilities.

Incidentally, the further back we go, the less attached everyone is to long-standing historical narratives. Almost no one cares if the earliest kings of ancient Egypt hailed from an advanced African civilization further south along the Nile, in what is now Ethiopia- as they probably did.

Christopher Columbus has few defenders in modern society; Columbus wasn’t an American, anyway. And he didn’t discover America. Plus, he died centuries ago. His kids, their kids, their kids’ kids- all gone, his “discovery” grown well past the tenuous claim of one opportunistic explorer.

Thomas Jefferson and George Washington get a bit more pushback, at least from an American History standpoint.

Washington, while he was indeed participating in the woeful enslavement of human beings, was also the first President of the United States. Since no amount of revisionist history can alter that fact, the tour guides of George Washington’s estate show visitors the cramped quarters where enslaved Africans were once forced to live before they are shown Washington’s private study, where he fathered a democratic nation by doing the unthinkable:

Refusing a kingship.

How many in a million could have done it? How many in a million wouldn’t have felt deserving of a kingship, after such an astonishing military victory?

The British monarchy hadn’t just sworn out a warrant on Washington, either; this was back in the day of drawing and quartering. Washington and his early American cohorts faced a fate worse than death during the war; extradition, public torture and a drawn-out public execution as traitors to the crown.

George Washington, we know from the preservation of his personal papers- which thankfully have not been destroyed because of his transgressions, grave as they were- refused the kingship because he wanted to see power peacefully pass from one democratically elected U.S. President to the next.

When told that George Washington, after winning the Revolutionary War, turned down the kingship and planned…