John Klar: Shelburne Farms’ new ‘woke’ revisionist history far from the truth

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James Watson Webb’s lengthy condemnation did not mince words about the “institution” of slavery. He called slave-supporting interests thugs, asserting the assault against Sumner reflected this barbaric mentality: “prominent and threatening stands the Bullying of the Slaveocracy, boastingly pointing to the bowie knife, the pistol, and the bludgeon.”

I have previously established that 501(c)(3) nonprofit Shelburne Farms has implemented an unconstitutional race-only training, hiring and indoctrination system that condemns white people for their skin color and Vermont for a history of alleged systemic white supremacy. In addition to the oxymoronic “Healing the Roots of Racism in Ourselves” seminar for BIPOC-only registrants, the reshaped (“woke”) Shelburne Farms has re-written its own history.

Shelburne Farms’ website states:

The Abenaki are the First Peoples of this place. In the 17th century, Europeans arrived and soon after began clearing the land and displacing the Indigenous community through settler colonialism. The Town of Shelburne was chartered in 1763 and by 1840 it was reported that in addition to fruit and grain production, local farmers raised over 17,000 sheep that year.

From 1886 to 1902, William Seward and Lila Vanderbilt Webb consolidated 32 of these farms into a 3,800-acre agricultural estate. … With increasing financial pressures by the 1950s, the family shifted away from maintaining the main house and barns to focus on raising dairy and beef animals.

In 1972, Webb descendants decided to open and share Shelburne Farms with the world and give it a new purpose. In 1984 the family contributed the property to the nonprofit educational organization that owns it today.

The hints at historic conversion begin here: the Abenaki were themselves immigrants “of this place,” killed in large numbers by aggressive Iroquois — is there any evidence that the land of Shelburne Farms was taken “unceded” by whites from nomadic tribes who may once have hunted there? An institution built on educating about agriculture must understand that agriculture requires the clearing of trees for planting crops — something the Abenaki did not do in these forests, and what has been the Vermont “tradition” for centuries.

In it’s “equity statement,” Shelburne Racial Justice Farms states:

Shelburne Farms is an education nonprofit on a mission to inspire and cultivate learning for a sustainable future. Our home campus is located on the unceded, traditional, and contemporary homelands of the Winooskik band of the Abenaki.

Shelburne Farms acknowledges that our buildings and landscape reflect a complex legacy of racial and economic privilege. The systems of advantage that supported the creation of the agricultural estate in the 1880s continue to this day. We believe that our work calls us to share a more complete story of this place, and to use our resources in service of justice and equity at Shelburne Farms and beyond.

This nonprofit seeks to use the Webb family’s lands to transform the world in service to Social Justice Theology, and will discriminate against people in hiring and access to money and land resources based solely on skin color to do so. In its current series for BIPOCs only on “Healing the Roots of Racism in Ourselves,” Shelburne Farms displays its novel agricultural mission — the instructor links to materials that reflect what Shelburne Farms now “believes their work calls them to do”:

The mission of gs [generative somatics] is to support social and climate justice movements in achieving their visions of a radically transformed society. We do this by bringing somatic transformation to movement leaders, organizations, and alliances. Our programs engage the body (emotions, sensations, physiology), in order to align our actions with values and vision, and heal from the impacts of trauma and oppression. We envision an interdependent society founded on the creativity and embodied collective power of our movements. The institutions and norms that we sustain will reject structural oppression, exploitation, extraction, and intergenerational violence. Instead, we will affirm life itself and recognize ourselves as part of nature rather than separate from it. We will ensure safety, dignity, and belonging for all.

Well, all except people who disagree with this upside-down-from-Martin-Luther-King world. The radically transformed society envisioned by many social justice warriors sees Vermont and America as a “hegemonic Christian society based on white supremacist ideology” that will be replaced with the “equitable” race-based organizations. These virtue-signalling delusions can be viewed in other approvingly linked resources that pant with anticipation in “this time of resurgent anti-racist movement building” — such as this from the “about” page of a website called White Supremacy Culture:

For example, I (and colleagues) have come to see other central elements of white supremacy culture that need to be named: fear is an essential characteristic, as is the assumption of “qualified” attached to whiteness. Defensiveness needs to be broadened to include denial, which is included in the list in this current iteration. A class lens and issues of intersectionality are important to address.

… Thank goodness our commitment to our own growth and development as anti-racist white people allows us to see the ways in which our internalizations of superiority warp our relationships not just with BIPOC people and communities, but with other white people and with ourselves. This is the magic of racial justice work. Our commitment to racial justice is a healing practice for all aspects of our lives.

Per this ideology, it would appear that defending Vermont’s agrarian history proves one is a racist, and round and round we go. But the deniers are not nebulous white supremacist “systemic” force, but individuals re-writing history before our eyes.

Though the true history of our region’s Abenaki is forever lost, the history of the Webb family who invested their “white privilege” wealth to create and then gift Shelburne Farms to Vermonters (and also some acreage in New York) is well established. William Seward Webb’s father was James Watson Webb, whose legacy to America might be better praised rather than tarnished: the Webbs were zealous abolitionists.

America became bitterly divided over the slave status of Kansas in the 1850s, a cause which Vermont and its governor vocally embraced. On May 22, 1856, pro-slavery Democrat Preston Brooks brutally assaulted and nearly killed abolitionist Republican Senator Charles Sumner in Congress with a cane. In his outrage and fury, Republican New York abolitionist James Watson Webb issued a powerful rebuke to the South in which he claimed the institution of slavery caused the violence because “nineteen twentieths of their population carry arms — bowie knives, pistols, and sword canes!” to use against each other, which was “conclusive as regards the demoralizing tendencies of an institution.”

Webb’s lengthy condemnation did not mince words about the “institution” of slavery. He called slave-supporting interests thugs, asserting the assault against Sumner reflected this barbaric mentality: “prominent and threatening stands the Bullying of the Slaveocracy, boastingly pointing to the bowie knife, the pistol, and the bludgeon.” Webb called upon Northerners to respond with life and limb, reflecting “our unalterable determination … never to yield to Southern fanatics or Northern demagogues, one foot of territory…. to the blighting cause of slavery.”

At great risk of physical assault or assassination, Webb declared:

Are there not among us, can there not be found in the great North, men of qualifications for both the Senate and the House of Representatives, who possess also the necessary moral daring and physical courage to meet and put down this disgusting bullying, either with pistol or with bludgeon, as circumstances may require? If there be such, let them be sent here as your Representatives, until the South are taught, after their own fashion. … The time for submission has passed; and that for action presses forcibly upon us. Our opponents have made, and present to us, the one great issue, of extension of Slavery into Territory now Free. It is our duty to meet it. (Slavery and its tendencies; a letter from General J. Watson Webb to the New York courier and enquirer)

This is the family legacy once associated with Shelburne Farms, along with the Webb family’s development of agricultural knowledge. To read the untruthful Shelburne Farms website today, one would think the Webbs were slaveholders or scalped Indians – where is the truth, and the inclusiveness, and the healing of the land? Those are not the mission of social justice – just the opposite.

John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield. © Copyright True North Reports 2022. All rights reserved.

Image courtesy of Public domain

7 thoughts on “John Klar: Shelburne Farms’ new ‘woke’ revisionist history far from the truth

  1. Oh, John…you’ll love this. Fact. Google it. Last June Shelburne Farms….in the name of Climate Change….said they will stop mowing about 30% of the land, to save the climate. They also got rid of gas mowers and are running electric.. The “feel good” insanity continues. Rich people with a lot of guilt :)…snippets:

    ““But that’s a choice, an ecosystem choice, and I think most of us are proud of it, but it’s a little jarring to some people,” said Wally Allen, the buildings and grounds manager at Shelburne Farms.
    “Where do we need to mow the most and what do we want to look like?
    Thought turned to action.
    Allen was able to implement a system reducing mowed acres by roughly 30%. Mowing time was reduced by about 50% and reducing fuel usage by 30-50% with the help of some electricity.
    “We are in the process of getting two Electric Z mowers, zero-turn mowers, to replace two gas-powered units,” said Allen.
    “It grows on you because you don’t even realize it until you run an electric mower and you don’t smell the gas coming off of it….
    It’s a large upfront investment, but Shelburne Farms President Alec Webb says it’s worth it.
    “A big part of what we are doing is doing our part to address climate change, …said Webb.
    “Addressing climate change is going to take a lot of local action around the world, so this is one area to reduce fossil fuel consumption and improve environmental quality,” said Webb.
    The added grass in meadows is cutting carbon in the atmosphere,….”

  2. It isn’t just the Webb family ensconced in comfy Shelburne….there are Vanderbilt descedants via Webb… and is also some of the uber wealthy Roosevelt clan there too. And guess what their passion is? Yup…you got it…..Climate Change…the Progressive circle is thus complete….Native American guilt, Black guilt, White guilt, Wealth guilt…capped off by Climate change 🙂

  3. That should get some republicans elected in November John! If you write a few more articles about racism in Vermont. You may convince the readers that you are not racist. By the way you convinced me years ago. Beating a dead horse serves no purpose.

  4. The kids who were given every thing now hating on those that gave them all..
    Like the old saying goes don’t sh*t in the hand that feeds ya, their kids will end up with nothing at all.. Their ruining the good Webb name. Go Woke Go Broke

  5. Liberals and progressives are trying rewrite history and hoping that no one will notice what they doing. They want to teach a narrative to our children that suits their agenda. If they break a few rules so be it. You’re a racist if you question their intentions. They want to cancel you. Thanks for fighting for us John. May the force be with you.

  6. This has happened to many of America’s richest familes….the descendants are dumbed down, because they never really had to work, and any college was a PC play time…..But they have to be “liked”. Their degree’s were in White Guilt – and “feelings. There’s always a truth below they don’t admit…because it screws up their “guilt gig”. Mr. Klar is correct….Iroquois were vicious against Abenaki….far worse than any “white” person was to Abenaki!….and that is true across the WHOLE USA…Indians murdered, tortured, captured, raped and enslaved other Indian tribes…long before any White Man came! Sorry, just a “non PC” fact. And today? We have Blacks mudering Blacks !!…in every major city..(just like Indians did!) I guess the Webb family heirs dont care about THOSE Black lives, like in CHICAGO?? Worse for the Webb heirs? It turns out the guy that made all of them rich, James Webb….was NOT a racist – as they so DEARLY need him to be….but he was an anti slavery abolitionist! For for all intents, everything on the Webb’s, “web” page…is a PC un-truth….but these heirs “feel better” now? Because “they care”? I HAVE A SOLUTION! GET RID of your WHITE GUILT. How about all these Webb heirs (rich, I am sure) give away almost ALL thier money, houses, possessions & cars …all their stocks & bonds….and then move their whole family to the North End of Burlington – to a run down, walk up… rental apt. THEN, at last…they can be truly “free” of their White Guilt 🙂

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