The obsession with the condemnation of historical figures as ‘insufficiently moral,’ or, more pejoratively speaking, ‘not woke enough,’ is beyond idiotic. This specious logic is being used by malevolent players to tear down the institutions of Western Civilization.
Moral evolution is analogous to technological advancement. There must be a continuous chain of developments. Most of the time, the rate of these developments is linear (think the Middle Ages). However, there are times in history where technological advancements have occurred at an exponential rate (think the Industrial Revolution or the Internet Revolution). We recognize that certain technological inventions were not possible without earlier inventions (putting a man on the moon wouldn’t have been possible without the discovery of flight, the internet wouldn’t have been possible without the discovery of electronics, etc.).
We don’t say “can you believe how stupid those earlier doctors were for believing in the ‘Miasma’ theory before microscopic bacteria were discovered?”
We don’t say “can you believe how moronic pre-Columbian cartographers and explorers were for believing that the Earth was flat?”
We don’t say “can you fathom the idiocy of people who lived before Thomas Edison? They lived by candlelight?!”
Yet, this is what people do when they make statements like:
“We shouldn’t listen to the words of Thomas Jefferson because he was a slave-owner!”
“Joe Biden opposed busing mandated by the Dept. of Education, so he’s a racist and shouldn’t be president!”
“The Bible said sexist things about women, so it has no moral utility!”
“The Founding Fathers didn’t consider black people to be equal to white people, so their philosophy and writings aren’t relevant anymore!”
Just like technological advancements, moral advancements require sequential developments. They can’t skip steps. Judeo-Christian morality and Greco-Roman philosophy are the foundations of modern moral sensibilities and of human rights. Martin Luther had to come before Martin Luther King, Jr. Aristotle had to come before Isaac Newton and Isaac Newton had to come before Albert Einstein. It is fatally naive to think that our current moral viewpoints, which have taken over two thousand years to mature, could be discovered all at once OR that they are somehow self-evident without prior precedent.