Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. What to do with Woodrow Wilson?

 

The left has finally begun to eat its own. Woodrow Wilson, the first Progressive Democrat president of the United States, who started all the bad ideas of administrative experts ruling over citizens, has been erased from Princeton, where he was president before a very short stint as the Governor of New Jersey, springboard to the White House. President Trump should not be opposing this too much. Rather, he should be pointing out leftist hypocrisy, especially their support for real butchers and mass murderers. He should also hammer on the fact that Wilson was a PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT, just like the current “progressives.”

Ricochet member Dr. Bastiat wrote on June 18, 2020, “call me when you’re serious.”

How the party of Woodrow Wilson, Bull Connor, Robert Byrd, etc etc etc has escaped the ire of the Black Lives Matter movement is a mystery to me.

And until they do go after Democrats with the same viciousness that they are going after statues and pancake syrup, it will be difficult to take this movement seriously.

The next day, Ricochet member Bucknelldad asked “What Will the Mob Do with Woodrow Wilson?”

This particular historical figure re-segregated the military. He infamously chose “Birth of a Nation” as the first motion picture (silent) to feature at the White House. Never seen it? It glamorized the Ku Klux Klan, the militarized wing of the Democratic Party from the end of the Civil War to the Great Depression. Look up the 1924 Democratic Convention, infamously known as the “Klanbake.”

Wilson was famously reelected in 1916 under the motto, “He kept us out of war.” How did that work out? Like much of the Progressive movement of the day that infected both major political parties, he was a big fan of Eugenics.

It did not take long for the first answer, as Princeton finally did, in the Trump era, what they refused to do in the Obama era. Consider these two posts on the issue back in 2015:

Now, when it serves the electoral interests of the radical leftists controlling the Democrat Party, President Eisgruber has suddenly seen the light. Mind you, his contrary view in 2015 did not earn him condemnation by the first black president of the United States, even though it was safely after his reelection.

When I wrote to you on Monday morning, June 22, I noted that the Princeton University Board of Trustees was discussing how the University could oppose racism and would soon convene a special meeting on that topic. The meeting took place yesterday, June 26. On my recommendation, the board voted to change the names of both the School of Public and International Affairs and Wilson College. As you will see from the board’s statement, the trustees concluded that Woodrow Wilson’s racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school or college whose scholars, students, and alumni must stand firmly against racism in all its forms.

As most of you know, the board previously considered whether to remove Wilson’s name after a group of student activists occupied my office in November 2015. The Wilson Legacy Review Committee conducted a thorough, deliberative process. In April 2016, it recommended a number of reforms to make this University more inclusive and more honest about its history. The committee and the board, however, left Wilson’s name on the School and the College.

The board reconsidered these conclusions this month as the tragic killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Rayshard Brooks drew renewed attention to the long and damaging history of racism in America. Board Chair Weezie Sams ’79 and I spoke individually to members of the board, and it then met on June 26.

The board continues to respect, as do I, the Wilson Legacy Review Committee’s process and report, including its description of Wilson’s historical record and its “presumption that names adopted by the trustees after full and thoughtful deliberation … will remain in place, especially when the original reasons for adopting the names remain valid.” The board nevertheless concluded that the presumption should yield in this case because of considerations specific to Wilson’s racist policies and to how his name shapes the identities of the School and the College.

Wilson’s racism was significant and consequential even by the standards of his own time. He segregated the federal civil service after it had been racially integrated for decades, thereby taking America backward in its pursuit of justice. He not only acquiesced in but added to the persistent practice of racism in this country, a practice that continues to do harm today.

Wilson’s segregationist policies make him an especially inappropriate namesake for a public policy school. When a university names a school of public policy for a political leader, it inevitably suggests that the honoree is a model for students who study at the school. This searing moment in American history has made clear that Wilson’s racism disqualifies him from that role. In a nation that continues to struggle with racism, this University and its school of public and international affairs must stand clearly and firmly for equality and justice. The School will now be known as “The Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.”

The University had already planned to close Wilson College and retire its name after opening two new residential colleges currently under construction. Rather than ask students in the College to identify with the name of a racist president for the next two years, the University will accelerate retirement of the name. The College will instead be known as “First College” in recognition of its status as the first of the residential colleges that now play an essential role in the residential life of all Princeton undergraduates.

These conclusions may seem harsh to some. Wilson remade Princeton, converting it from a sleepy college into a great research university. Many of the virtues that distinguish Princeton today—including its research excellence and its preceptorial system—were in significant part the result of Wilson’s leadership. He went on to the American presidency and received a Nobel Prize. People will differ about how to weigh Wilson’s achievements and failures. Part of our responsibility as a University is to preserve Wilson’s record in all of its considerable complexity.

The Black Justice League isn’t buying what Princeton President Eisgruber is selling, nor should they:

In your statement, you mention that you lionized Woodrow Wilson in part due to “ignorance” regarding his beliefs. This is hard to believe given how strongly the University holds to every other aspect of Wilson’s legacy at Princeton, and how much BJL, students who came before us, as well as historians and alumni from all over the world worked to reveal the egregious viewpoints and actions of Wilson to roll back racial progress at Princeton and beyond. In 1904, years after most other Ivy League schools had admitted Black students, Wilson stated: “The whole temper and tradition of the place are such that no Negro has ever applied for admission and it seems extremely unlikely that the question will ever assume a practical form.” As another example of Woodrow Wilson’s hostility toward Black people, he also claimed: “It was a menace to society itself that the negroes should thus of a sudden be set free and left without tutelage or restraint,” clearly indicating that he not only disapproved of Black progress, but he also disapproved of Black people’s freedom beyond “restraint.”

[. . .]

[I]n 2015, you strongly defended Wilson and the idolatry of his legacy at Princeton. In communication with the BJL, you wrote: “[I] agree that [Woodrow] Wilson was racist.” However, you further qualified your statement by quoting A. Scott Berg, a Wilson biographer in saying: “[at] the beginning of the 20th century…Wilson’s racial views were fairly centrist in America.” This stands in stark contrast to the June 27, 2020 announcement which states: “Wilson’s racism was significant and consequential even by the standards of his own time…Wilson’s segregationist policies make him an especially inappropriate namesake for a public policy school.” It is hard to believe that you so specifically quoted from Wilson’s biographical texts, yet continued to be ignorant to the extent of his racist and vitriolic behavior until recently, a moment in which anti-Black racism has come into stark relief. 

As Paul Mirengoff observes, “Princeton’s president isn’t fooling the Black Justice League:”

How could one event, unrelated to Woodrow Wilson, have transformed Eigruber’s thinking about Wilson and caused him suddenly to perceive an “urgent responsibility to stand firmly against racism and for the integrity and value of black lives”? Hasn’t he long perceived this responsibility?

Suppose Chauvin had called in sick the day he confronted Floyd. Would Woodrow Wilson be less of a racist? Would Eisgruber have found it less urgent “to stand firmly against racism.”

Of course not. But if Chauvin had called in sick, angry Blacks might not have vociferously demanded the the purging of Wilson’s name from Princeton. Surely, that’s what made the difference for Eisgruber.

I called this particular subject of leftist lying out back in March of 2019, urging that we must all “make them own it.” I mean it all the more now. Republicans must fight the fight before us and win by making the left own their lying propaganda, their convenient claims and chants. 

[A] Washington Post story on 10 March 2019 inadvertently raised quite another issue in our current racial politics [emphasis added]:

Wilson, a Southern Democrat and two-term president who moved to the White House in 1913, was a staunch supporter of segregation, setting back African Americans in their quest for civil rights.
So far we are clearly dealing with just the symbolic act of renaming a school. But then the story takes another turn.

When Wilson took office, the District had a large black population and the federal government provided these residents well-paying jobs and careers. But Wilson impeded the progress of the District’s black population by further segregating the federal workforce and making it harder for black residents to land public-service jobs.
Wilson’s policies contributed to the decimation of vibrant African American neighborhoods in Northwest Washington, according to Alcione Amos, curator at Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum.
[…]
But starting in the 1920s, the federal government began using eminent domain to acquire much of this prime real estate from residents, Amos said. At the time, D.C. did not have local governance, so the federal government controlled real estate.
[…]
This process continued for decades until the black communities were gone. Wilson, which opened in 1935 as an all-white school, was built on land adjacent to these neighborhoods. Lafayette and Alice Deal, which feed into Wilson High, also opened as all-white schools.

“Woodrow Wilson created the ideal environment to destroy African American communities,” Amos said.
Think that through. Here we have a clearly defined, compact, geographic area in which federal policy was exercised to destroy, to ethnically cleanse, a black community. Surely it is only proper to now exercise that same federal power on this same defined area of the District of Columbia to make things right. Housing is incredibly expensive. Well-made, affordable housing is needed.

[. . .]

My point is that the Wilson High situation lets us turn the left’s rhetoric on itself. Responding that you and I don’t owe X diverts the focus back where the left wants, so resist that urge and consider the greater effectiveness of making them own it. If the left believes its own talk, it is time to pay up, and here is the perfect case. Exercise eminent domain *again* and turn the parlor pink leftists’ fancy digs into affordable housing units.

Maybe we could even take a page from Mao—send the displaced apparatchiks and nomenklatura to offices in a farm state.

There is no Marxist arc of history. There is no fate but what we make. We have a country to save. Make. Them. Own. It.

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  1. RightAngles Member

    Wilson’s racism was significant and consequential even by the standards of his own time

    When will BLM and all black Americans wake up and realize that the same is true of all Democrats and always has been? And that their true natural home is the Republican Party. How have we allowed this gaslighting to continue until we’ve reached this stage of pre-dystopia? How do they not see how unbelievably racist it is to think:

    -that black Americans need to be “saved” and “helped” by white liberals and their paternalistic social policies?
    -that black people don’t have normal I.D. in their wallets like any competent adult?

    And when will they see:
    -that the free market doesn’t know or care what color you are or who your parents were?
    -that it’s the Democrats who are so excruciatingly aware of race and color, and that we see only Americans?

     

     

     

     

     

    • #1
    • June 29, 2020, at 9:55 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  2. Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Coolidge
    Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Clifford A. Brown:

    Of course not. But if Chauvin had called in sick, angry Blacks might not have vociferously demanded the the purging of Wilson’s name from Princeton. Surely, that’s what made the difference for Eisgruber.

     

    Chauvin’s actions were the occasion for an insurgency that has been planned for generations. It was a pretext that struck a match and tossed it into a gasoline soaked building whose preparers go back to Lenin and Mao. A response no more spontaneous than Kristallnacht.

    The Communists have been fighting Christianity forever. They find sin, decry it, and promise to eliminate it. The wayward forget that he who says he is without sin is a liar, and the truth is not in them. Each cancellation is a sin. Rather than confront the contradictions in a figure like Washington or Jefferson, they must be cancelled to fulfill a false vision of a sinless life that can never be in this world.

    There will always be a Chauvin, because we are all Chauvins. The Cancelers are Chauvins whenever they cancel. Facebook and Twitter are Chauvin’s every time they censor or ban the other, placing their knees on the throats of free men and suborning their First Amendment freedoms of speech and religion. As they seek to cancel God’s voice in the public square because it convicts them as surely and clearly as it convicts Chauvin. 

    • #2
    • June 29, 2020, at 10:04 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Wilson’s been out of office now for 99 1/2 years (more than that, really, if you throw in his incapacitation) and today’s hyper-woke angry types aren’t really deep into progressive politics. They know Woody was a progressive, but he also falls into the category of dead, white males, so there’s less reluctance to cancel him among the millenial and Gen Z crowd, who have their own mythological president emeritus now in Barack Obama to swoon over into the foreseeable future.

    Dumping FDR is probably still a bridge too far for the Democrats, Japanese internment policy or not, because of how linked he is to the New Deal and the rise of big government (Roosevelt can also be hit over his pre-World War II attitude on Jews trying to escape Germany, but today’s angry SJW crowd likely would view that as a mark in FDR’s favor). Same deal with Margaret Sanger — it’s not like the left doesn’t know about her feelings about blacks, and using abortions to lower their birth rate. But abortion is such a huge issue to the left, they’re not throwing Sanger and Planned Parenthood under the bus, out of fear about what that would say about modern abortion and which race has the highest percentage of abortion clinic customers.

    • #3
    • June 29, 2020, at 10:06 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  4. Jon1979 Lincoln

    (Double post deleted)

    • #4
    • June 29, 2020, at 10:21 PM PDT
    • Like
    • This comment has been edited.
  5. Arahant Member

    Clifford A. Brown: There is no Marxist arc of history. There is no fate but what we make. We have a country to save. Make. Them. Own. It.

    Preach it!

    • #5
    • June 29, 2020, at 10:54 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  6. Hoyacon Member

    Many of the (mostly white and liberal) citizens of D.C. who reside in the Northwest quadrant send their kids here provided, of course, that they can’t afford a tony private school.

    • #6
    • June 30, 2020, at 7:46 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  7. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Wilson’s racism was significant and consequential even by the standards of his own time

    When will BLM and all black Americans wake up and realize that the same is true of all Democrats and always has been? And that their true natural home is the Republican Party. How have we allowed this gaslighting to continue until we’ve reached this stage of pre-dystopia? How do they not see how unbelievably racist it is to think:

    -that black Americans need to be “saved” and “helped” by white liberals and their paternalistic social policies?
    -that black people don’t have normal I.D. in their wallets like any competent adult?

    And when will they see:
    -that the free market doesn’t know or care what color you are or who your parents were?
    -that it’s the Democrats who are so excruciatingly aware of race and color, and that we see only Americans?

    Amen. Preach it, sister!

     

     

     

     

     

    • #7
    • June 30, 2020, at 12:55 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. Unsk Member

    Ya know I don’t think Wilson has ever been given his proper going over. He was a really bad guy. Not only was an out and out racist he was also a Fascist who inspired Mussolini who put many thousands in jail for opposing his War policies. But his policies in many ways laid the foundation for today’s Progressive Movement so he is an untouchable. His Presidency should be an horrible embarrassment to the Progressive Movement but of course our Education establishment has erased that embarrassing history from the history books so our sensitive woke ears will never hear of it. 

    • #8
    • June 30, 2020, at 3:14 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  9. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher

    Clifford A. Brown: President Trump should not be opposing this too much. Rather, he should be pointing out leftist hypocrisy, especially their support for real butchers and mass murderers. He should also hammer on the fact that Wilson was a PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT, just like the current “progressives.”

    The ill-educated mobs have even gone for Grant’s statue, the Union hero of the Civil War. Our streets are populated by wild animals.

    • #9
    • June 30, 2020, at 5:05 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: President Trump should not be opposing this too much. Rather, he should be pointing out leftist hypocrisy, especially their support for real butchers and mass murderers. He should also hammer on the fact that Wilson was a PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT, just like the current “progressives.”

    The ill-educated mobs have even gone for Grant’s statue, the Union hero of the Civil War. Our streets are populated by wild animals.

    They even defaced a statue of Stevie Ray Vaughn.

    • #10
    • June 30, 2020, at 5:44 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  11. Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Coolidge
    Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: President Trump should not be opposing this too much. Rather, he should be pointing out leftist hypocrisy, especially their support for real butchers and mass murderers. He should also hammer on the fact that Wilson was a PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT, just like the current “progressives.”

    The ill-educated mobs have even gone for Grant’s statue, the Union hero of the Civil War. Our streets are populated by wild animals.

    They even defaced a statue of Stevie Ray Vaughn.

    This means war!

    • #11
    • June 30, 2020, at 6:02 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  12. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Unsk (View Comment):

    Ya know I don’t think Wilson has ever been given his proper going over. He was a really bad guy. Not only was an out and out racist he was also a Fascist who inspired Mussolini who put many thousands in jail for opposing his War policies. But his policies in many ways laid the foundation for today’s Progressive Movement so he is an untouchable. His Presidency should be an horrible embarrassment to the Progressive Movement but of course our Education establishment has erased that embarrassing history from the history books so our sensitive woke ears will never hear of it.

    Exactly so.

    • #12
    • June 30, 2020, at 6:04 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: President Trump should not be opposing this too much. Rather, he should be pointing out leftist hypocrisy, especially their support for real butchers and mass murderers. He should also hammer on the fact that Wilson was a PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT, just like the current “progressives.”

    The ill-educated mobs have even gone for Grant’s statue, the Union hero of the Civil War. Our streets are populated by wild animals.

    Animals do not engage in wanton destruction. Humans do. Of course, we have had iconoclasts before, any time old gods or old images of faith and authority were seen as a threat to the new order.

    • #13
    • June 30, 2020, at 6:07 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  14. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Does anyone else find it creepy that the only sin that seems to matter anymore is racism? Racist racism!! Woodrow Wilson was an awful man, and I am enjoying the watch-them-eat-their-own schadenfreude as much as the next guy, but racism (real, perceived, or otherwise) is literally the only bad thing that these people can conceive of.

    • #14
    • June 30, 2020, at 7:05 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  15. Hoyacon Member

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Does anyone else find it creepy that the only sin that seems to matter anymore is racism? Racist racism!! Woodrow Wilson was an awful man, and I am enjoying the watch-them-eat-their-own schadenfreude as much as the next guy, but racism (real, perceived, or otherwise) is literally the only bad thing that these people can conceive of.

    It’s the new religion. You could write a book.

     

    • #15
    • June 30, 2020, at 7:18 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  16. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Does anyone else find it creepy that the only sin that seems to matter anymore is racism? Racist racism!! Woodrow Wilson was an awful man, and I am enjoying the watch-them-eat-their-own schadenfreude as much as the next guy, but racism (real, perceived, or otherwise) is literally the only bad thing that these people can conceive of.

    It’s the new religion. You could write a book.

    Ugh. Do I have to? You first.

    • #16
    • June 30, 2020, at 7:20 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  17. Columbo Member

    I thought Dinesh D’Souza portrayed Woodrow perfectly …

    • #17
    • July 1, 2020, at 12:32 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.