Claiming the Founders

It’s a truism in America that people advocating just about anything will try to claim the Founding Fathers for their cause. I find this sentence in a hard-selling letter soliciting donations to D.C.’s public radio station, WETA, particularly amusing:

Since the time of Thomas Jefferson, there have been three great American institutions of public learning: public schools; public libraries; and now, public broadcasting.

The gratuitous name drop of Jefferson and the obvious self-contradiction combine to make that about the most vacuous sentence I’ve ever read. The letter did include some very handy address labels though, so I guess it all evens out.