My Ethics Conflict: Woodrow Wilson’s Name Should Have Been Removed At Princeton Long Ago, But Erasing It Now Opens The Floodgates, Part I: The Case For Woodrow

Reviewing, I see that the original Black Lives Matter attack on American values, history and culture first broke out in 2015. Then as now, Democrats rushed to embrace the racist group’s anti-white, anti-police and anti-America agenda, seeking, as usual, to enamor itself with its base. That was also the first time Princeton University was urged by student activists to remove honors to Wilson from the campus, though Wilson was not only a President of the United States (and according to Democrats until recently, one of the greatest) but also a lauded president of Princeton. The 2015 calls for his airbrushing out of Princeton’s history coincided with many similar attempts, some successful, to dishonor past historical figures whose legacies or conformity with modern values had been called into question.

College campuses, not city streets, were ground zero in 2015. Yale and the University of Missouri led the madness. At Mizzou, black students manufactured racial outrage out of ambiguous and off-campus incidents, then engaged in what Ethics Alarms then termed  an “I’m mad at the world and somebody has to pay for it” tantrum (Hmmm! Still sounds pretty good!), demanding all sorts of special accommodations and race-based policies and hirings, and demanding the university president’s resignation. Thomas Wolfe did resign, giving us an early precedent for all the capitulation and cowardice we are seeing today. As we’re seeing today, intimidation, race-bullying and attacks on free expression and language were part of the assault:

  • Amherst students demanded a crack-down on any free speech in the form of criticism of Black Lives Matters or the protest goals.
  • Dartmouth’s Black Lives Matters members roamed through the campus library, verbally assaulting white students attempting to study.
  • Smith College held a sit-in, and barred reporters-–the new breed of campus freedom-fighters just don’t like that pesky First Amendment—unless they promised to cover the protest positively. .
  • Occidental College students occupied a three-story administration building, demanding “a series of actions ranging from racist to just unreasonable to oppressive” in the name of “safety” and “diversity”, of course. Predictably, the leftist faculty which helped make the students this way were fully supportive.Refresh your recollections with the list of student demands here; my favorites: demanding an increase in tenured black professors and black doctors; funding for the student group for black men, which is racist and counter-diverse by definition; and “elimination of military and police rhetoric from all documents and daily discourse.”

Why is this so familiar?

Princeton’s BLM  equivalent, members of the Black Justice League (funny, I thought that was a DC comic title), meanwhile,walked out of class and occupied the building that houses the Princeton administration’s offices. They then demanded that the school reject “the racist legacy of Woodrow Wilson” by removing his name from anything bearing it. They also demanded “cultural competency training” for Princeton professors and assistants (that is, forced re-education and ideological brainwashing, academia style), new leftist narrative courses on the “history of marginalized people,” and  the setting aside of public spaces to be  restricted to the use and enjoyment of black students only.  Sure enough, university President Christopher Eisgruber provide a role-model for 2020’s guardians of the culture,  agreed to a modified versions of the demands.

Regarding Wilson, I took the hard line, consistent with other posts at that time ( like here, here, here, and here ) regarding Confederate statues, Bill Cosby, John C. Calhoun and others. I had predicted that Wilson was destined to become a target months before, and I wrote in part,

The students are arrogant and wrong. Woodrow Wilson was a racist, and those of us who are historically literate knew it long before the Democratic spin-machine stopped its partisan historians from promoting the lie that he was among our greatest Presidents. Nonetheless, he served the nation faithfully as a President of the United States, did what he believed was in the best interests of the nation, led it through a wold war and destroyed his health and mind in the quest for a U.S. led prescription for world peace.

We cannot fail to honor our past Presidents because the passage of time proves them wrong, and because their particular wrong especially offends a group with the momentary power and opportunity to strike back at a dead leader who didn’t have the benefit of their hindsight. Every single President of the United States deserves to be honored for taking on the job—the often killing, thankless, impossible job—of leading this ambitious, cantankerous, contentious and sprawling land. Every one of them, even in failure, contributed something positive and lasting to our history and strength. Choosing one negative, even unforgivable aspect of their terms in office to justify dishonoring and forgetting them is dangerous and foolish.

Not one President lacks serious blemishes on his record; which are more serious and disqualifying for honor and respect depends only on an individual’s priorities, or an individual’s ignorance. These leaders signify the progress and the struggle, so far a victorious struggle, of a great nation.

If Princeton won’t stand firm for the memory of Woodrow Wilson, the legacy of George Washington is no longer secure.  That is not merely troubling. It is frightening.

That accurately states my pro-Woodrow Wilson case. It’s a slippery slope argument, and rooted in my nearly absolutist opposition to removing statutes and other honors to historical figures when they go out of fashion, rightly or wrongly. I am particularly adamant when the target of Soviet-style air-brushing is a President of the United States.

However, the anti-Wilson case is strong, and it is growing on me.

That ‘s coming up in Part II

23 thoughts on “My Ethics Conflict: Woodrow Wilson’s Name Should Have Been Removed At Princeton Long Ago, But Erasing It Now Opens The Floodgates, Part I: The Case For Woodrow

    • A friend of mine suggested that Princeton did this to pressure Yale into changing its name and losing the valuable brand that goes with it.

  1. No big loss, frankly. I don’t say that because Wilson was without a doubt the most harmful racist ever to sit in the White House, although he was. I say it because he was an arrogant, sneering nose-in-the-air academic. He was a disaster as president who, more than any other member of the 45, epitomized the phrase “to win the war and lose the peace.”

    Other presidents have also won wars and handled the aftermaths poorly, but Wilson’s arrogant belief that he could remake the world in his own image was a mountain thrown into the sea which we are still feeling the ripples of today. It should tell you something that after his attempts to push the Treaty of Versailles through Congress hit a brick wall, most of his advisors had quit, and he was casting about for help, his private secretary, one of the few men who could tell him the unvarnished truth and not lose his job, told him he had very few friends left.

    The name of a man who created many problems that still plague the world today and helped set the stage for innumerable lives lost and destroyed, does not belong on a school supposedly devoted to problem solving.

    • Which, of course, is the other side, but not germane to the argument that once you start erasing Presidents, there’s no stopping place. The Topplers see no distinction between Wilson and Washington or Lincoln, and at least Woodrow didn’t have slaves.

      • That’s where we start running into problems. I think I know what I want to say, but I am waiting to see what you say in part 2 before I respond further.

  2. Just curious: What about the J. Edger Hoover FBI Building? What about the Robert F. Kennedy Justice Department Building? Didn’t these two personalities have a somewhat awkward role in the pursuit of dirt on Martin Luther King?

      • Yes, that is true. And King now has a massive, monumental scale memorial in the West Potomac Park next to the Washington Mall. That is my point. What do we do with all of these imperfect “heroes” when we consider all the particular details of their lives? Is there enough dynamite in the world to ever cleanse the shame?

        • Get over ‘shame’. Deny shame. Become ‘shameless’ inside of your self as a spiritual act of will. Resolve never, ever to give in to the shaming that other people use against you like a weapon: the most terrifying weapon and one that literally undermines you at a fundamental level. That shame which is the beginning of your will to suicide your self. And that shame through which you betray your self and your children.

          Create a revolution inside of your own spirit where you find the will to ferret out the *darts* that wicked people who do not mean you well have shot into the fibres of your self, your body. Resolve to remove them and dismantle them. See how they are constructed. Resolve to annihilate them. And then turn your intellectual attention to defeating those who do this.

          Reconstruct *identity* and rebuild it on a proper foundation. Not one of hate certainly, but one of absolute self-respect. Correct any ideological or interpretive mistakes of the past, but do not cede ground to wicked people, with wicked intentions, whose evil actions are plainly seen in our present — just look out the window.

          Get out from under the idea-grip of Fake Conservatives who have sold out the very notion of conservation, who serve all of that which is now becoming manifest as Hyper-Liberalism and the Globo-Homo World Management régime. See into who they are and what they represent. See through it. And look into the writing of those who define White Well-Being and the structured of thought on which they construct their argument.

          Once one gets started — though it does take a number of years even to get to the first stages of internal realignment — one just moves down a line . . .

          You can do it Jack Houghton! Begin today.

        • That’s the question. Right now we’re wrestling with the question of where, if anywhere, lies the line at which someone’s achievements outweigh the wrongs he may have done in his life, or, the converse, where does someone cross the moral event horizon to the point that his achievements no longer count and he is irredeemably to be counted among the goats rather than the sheep.

          If you travel to Turkey you will see monuments to one man everywhere, and if you dare speak ill of his name you can be jailed for up to two years. Born Mustafa Kemal in 1881, he first came to prominence when he, then a division commander, correctly predicted where the Allies would land at Gallipoli and successfully repelled them. He parlayed his success, both on and off the battlefield, into eventually becoming president of the modern Republic of Turkey. As part of modernizing, he declared that every Turk must take a surname, to facilitate keeping track of the population, leading him to take the surname by which we all (if we know world history) know him, Ataturk (father of Turks). He led what had been a crumbling, backward shell of the glory that was once the Ottoman Empire into the modern age, sweeping away the fez, the veil, and the harem, introducing the Roman alphabet (so it was easier for Turks to learn other languages), doing away with the concept of the caliphate, and introducing a representative republic, in which the people would have a part. He is justifiably considered the father of modern Turkey. Unfortunately, his concept of the people of Turkey only included Turks, and his treatment of minorities was terrible by modern standards. He concluded a treaty with Greece in which all ethnic Greeks in Turkey were uprooted and sent to Greece, and vice versa. He looked the other way as Turks mistreated the Assyrian and Chaldean Christians, often uprooting them and pushing them into what later became Iraq. He likewise looked the other way as pretty much everyone else in the region including his own people treated the Kurds (one ethnic group that got seriously screwed in Wilson’s post-WWI vision). Finally, although he was not the primary architect of the Armenian Genocide (that infamy belongs to the Three Pashas, especially Talat Pasha, the Grand Vizier), he made no effort to stop it, even though he knew exactly what was going on, and indeed extracted concessions from the West that they would agree, officially at least, that nothing happened, and if it did, it was an internal matter. By modern standards he was a race purist, worse than a racist, but no Turk will even tolerate being told otherwise, and, if you suggested it was time to do away with his many memorials and honors, they’d look at you like you were crazy. A case can be made, though, that the fact he saved a collapsing nation from actually collapsing and made it into a modern democracy and important ally of the west, outweighs his dreadful approach to ethnic issues. For the Turks, though, it’s an open-and-shut case.

          Ireland isn’t as big into putting up monuments, but you will see a few to and hear the name of “The Big Fella,” Michael Collins a lot. In many ways he can be considered the father of the modern Republic of Ireland, neither dying with the leaders of the Easter Rising nor sullied by the dirty dealings of Eamon de Valera and his successors. He was a master of the use of information and the art, if it can be called that, of asymmetrical warfare, confounding the army that had defeated the Kaiser, and erasing any sympathy the population might have had for continued British rule. However, his tactics also basically wrote the book for modern terrorism (had he lost the British would have hung him as a traitor), he didn’t shrink from “dirty” tactics like IEDs or assassinations, and, arguably, by making the agreement he made with the British to end the Anglo-Irish War, he set the stage for the Irish Civil War that followed, in which far more Irishmen were killed and the nation left almost bankrupt. He didn’t live to see the end of it, or try to get the nation going again, as he was killed in an ambush in County Cork that clearly was targeted at eliminating him. However, don’t you dare speak ill of him to any Irishman if you value continued good health and maybe your life. Looking at him objectively, though, does his brutal side outweigh his achievements? The Irish don’t think so, and maybe that’s all that matters.

          Those are just two major examples of “heroes” who have very dark sides to them. The list goes on and on: We’ve already heard ad nauseum that Columbus opened the door between Old World and New, but he was a genocidal rapist (not true, but arguably he DID open the door to the Conquistadores), that Washington, Jefferson, and Jackson all owned slaves, so end of story. The fact that Columbus started the whole process by which this nation came to be, Jefferson wrote the guiding principles of this nation (or many of them), that Washington made them happen, and that Jackson made them accessible to all don’t mean a thing to cancel culture. These guys are all pillars of white supremacy, so no trace of them must remain in an honored place. They must retreat to the history books. Churchill was arguably the greatest statesman of the 20th Century and saved Europe at the darkest hour. Unfortunately his views on race were behind the current times.

          The thing is, these men I just named were all men of the highest possible achievement. Wilson, arguably, was not. He may have looked it at the time, and he was certainly a man of vision and ideals, but, in the end, he was a liar (got reelected on the slogan “he kept us out of war” and then plunged into the war), a racist, as we already know, and, now that we have the distance of history, damaging. Arguably the bad outweighs the good with him.

          Here’s the conundrum – who determines when the tipping point where the bad outweighs the good is reached and the person is no longer honorable, and how is it determined? Who determines what the appropriate remedy is when someone is determined no longer honorable? Is merely being a person of your time enough to declare you cancelled? Is having said something documented that is out of step with current views enough? Is making a bad choice enough? Is making a bad choice when there were no good options enough? Is even the most tenuous connection with slavery enough? Is the fact that someone didn’t decide to be the first to oppose slavery enough? Are all of these things true? I’ve heard all of them from the current mobs.

          I submit that some of these standards are impossible to meet. I will concede that sometimes public art must be modified, added to, or removed for various reasons. However, there should be a process for doing this, and that process shouldn’t happen because an unrelated event is whipping up an angry mob. It has to happen in a thorough and thinking way. Further, the petitioner must be prepared for the answer to be no. I know a popular saw is “never take no for an answer,” but frankly, that’s a terrible thing to tell someone. It encourages everything from the kid resisting his bedtime, to the protester who yanks down the statue that the mayor and council refuse to remove. Trying to change everything and topple everything at a breakneck pace while the anger is still raging is neither fair nor right.

          I think there is more to this. Creating impossible standards like “silence is violence” is deliberate, so that no one except the current and woke can meet them. A nation that has no history and no traditions is infinitely malleable. We’ve established this is all about power, and every imperfect person dishonored is another step toward ultimate power by the left.

          • Excellent comment – COTD worthy.

            Sadly, the people pushing this stuff seem to care nothing for history or perspective. Hmmm, perhaps we could give them a visa to Turkey and a biography of Ataturk?

          • By modern standards he was a race purist, worse than a racist, but no Turk will even tolerate being told otherwise, and, if you suggested it was time to do away with his many memorials and honors, they’d look at you like you were crazy. A case can be made, though, that the fact he saved a collapsing nation from actually collapsing and made it into a modern democracy and important ally of the west, outweighs his dreadful approach to ethnic issues. For the Turks, though, it’s an open-and-shut case.

            There is possibly not significant actor of history who has not acted decisively in some area, and resorted to methods, tactics or actions that we could not in any way support today.

            The interesting question to consider, in relation to the US nation and history, is where these present everts are going and how they will be resolved. I wonder if this is one of those junctures referred to as a Crisis of Democracy by some notable lefties that was successfully resolved by State and media intervention. Studying the Sixties that was a time of ‘crisis’ and it necessitated intervention. Whatever those cultural processes were — whether they were for good or for bad — they had to be channeled and controlled. Take as an example the National Police (FBI) intervention and counter-insurgency against the radical guerrilla groups and their supporters and comrades. Another example, a later one, is the same FBI counter-insurgency against the militia-movement that culminated in the Oklahoma bombing.

            These are events that I do not think some, or most, who post here have knowledge of, either by rejection of the notion as absurd (“such things do not happen here”) or simply by ignorance.

            Unless I am misreading the present I cannot see how this rebellion and uprising, be it artificial or spontaneous (I incline to ‘instigated’), will resolve itself. Yet it is not impossible. It is possible that if a Democrat were to be elected that the entire System would rally. That all efforts would be to tone-down the radical activism which is encouraged, and *they* would attempt to put things on a more even keel. In a real sense they have the capacity to engineer a ‘narcotic’.

            It seems obvious to me — it is a cornerstone of much that I write — that the *entire system* is attempting to construct this unique model of a mixed-race multi-racial culture. They certainly set this as an object. And it is not outside of the realm of the possible that *they* will achieve it.

            My impression — when I read both Jack and Steve (and others too) — is that this is what you want. It came about, it happened, and you have no means or desire to oppose it. Therefore you wish to make the best of it. Or that was the case — a willingness to make the best of it — until everything went very sour and very quickly. *They* began to hunt you down though. They showed you what they are capable of. You stare this and *them* in the face and still hold to an extraordinary idealism . . .

            Yet this looks like folly or naivete. But what alternative is there? Complaining is, I guess, one avenue. But any other choice instantly becomes dangerous, radical and opens whole other *cans of worms*. Like a significant social disturbance. Like political reorganization. But then there is another *impossibility* which is a adamant form of *white identity*. The problem with this is that it would, indeed it would, look like the 100% Movement of the 1920a. It would involve concepts and ideas that are totally untenable — literally unthinkable — in our present. Except of course by the *lunatics*.

            What *peaceful political organization* could possibly take shape in our present that could bring about anything like a ‘social movement’ to defend (forgive me!) white interests. The interests of the *original demographic*? That in and of itself is literally inconceivable. Could you imagine that?

            With a certain sort of ‘good reason’ you vilify Woodrow Wilson for his racist policies. And certainly you would have nothing favorable to say about the second manifestation of the Klan (the 100% Movement). There is almost no choice in the matter. If you-plural ever became ‘racialist’ or activist in any adamant sense Heaven can only imagine how this would take shape. You would in a way have to turn against *the entire world*.

            That is why Lothrop Stoddard’s initial proposition seems so compelling. The idea of a ‘rising tide of color’ that would simply over-swamp the European world(s). You your selves cannot hold in your mind an idea about ‘supremacy’ or rulership — about dominance and dominion. There was indeed a time — it was just 100 years ago — when powerful men could hold that thought in their mind. It activated them. They could allow them self to think or imagine a ‘white man’s will’.

            So, it is inconceivable for us today to image a historical figure in any sense comparable to the Turk you mention. I mean, in relation to America and what is happening here. But could you conceive of it among another people? In some semi-abstract sense?

            What does one take away from this? Would it not have been a *truly wise choice* and an *enlightened choice* to hold to the commitment to keep America somewhat homogenous? To have supported the idea of a dominant super-majority? Is that idea so abhorrent? Could you imagine it in, say, Finland today? Or any of the former Soviet satellites? Can you even conceive of a people that would esire to maintain their ethnic integrity?

  3. These are private institutions and they can do as they like.

    With that said when I am invited to anothers home I don’t demand they repaint their house in a color I prefer. If I move into an apartment I cannot demand the owners change the name to reflect my preferences. Why then do these guests at the college feel they have the right to make demands that were not part of teacher / student contract? I don’t believe they do. More importantly they should nit have any say in the governance of the institution other than the decision to buy what they sell or not.

    Imaging a white person joining the NAACP and demanding they drop the word colored from their name. People are not colored. That suggests it happened after being born. I for one don’t want to get tarred with that brush.

    These students have choices, they can support their cause by not attending a school that has names that offend them or they can go and gain a broader understanding of the namesake. It is their choice to make. It is not their right to demand changes.

  4. I’d like to dedicate this post to Steve Witherspoon’s front teeth. Namely (or numberly) 7, 8, 9, 10 & 23, 24, 25, and 26. (And note this might be the first time in our history — I can speak for no other — that an essay has been devoted to a man’s teeth! So, a glorious first.

    That accurately states my pro-Woodrow Wilson case. It’s a slippery slope argument, and rooted in my nearly absolutist opposition to removing statutes and other honors to historical figures when they go out of fashion, rightly or wrongly. I am particularly adamant when the target of Soviet-style air-brushing is a President of the United States.

    However, the anti-Wilson case is strong, and it is growing on me.

    Your view of Wilson is predicated within your absolute commitment to American progressive values. And yet Wilson along with an upper echelon of notable Americans (Roosevelt, Lothrop Stoddard, Madison Grant and many dozens of others) defined a moral doctrine based in conservation and preservation of America’s ‘original demographic’. I have read their material.

    I don’t know much about Teddy Roosevelt (except his association with Madison Grant and the establishment of many National Parks) but I do know something of Stoddard and Grant. I understand what they said and why they said it. And I also notice that everything that they predicted — a series of negatives — has become manifest. Just as they resolved to preserve the National Parks they theorized the necessity of preserving their own selfs. Their own people. In their own lands.

    Therefore, I could easily — and morally and ethically — build an argument where I do not take issue with whatever Woodrow Wilson thought about race but rather discover what sound reasons he had.

    And I could build an argument where I soundly and rationally critique the progressive American argument that will eventually turn on him and that has a definite responsibility in creating the ideological conditions now operative in our present and manifesting mightily! I could build a rational and an ethical argument in opposition to all of that.

    The main thing I notice here, and this is true for everyone who contributes to this blog, and for nearly the entirety of American ‘conservatism’, is that they are absolutely incapable of defining a racialist position! Or one built on the idea of ‘preserving one’s own people’ which requires a whole series of definitions.

    Yet a racialist perspective could be fully defended in ethical and moral terms. And argument for, as an example, maintaining a nation’s demographic integrity could be made and it would be completely sane and rational. (That is the argument that Stoddard made, and he was a very balanced man and in no sense a *hater*).

    But you-plural are not even allowed to think such thoughts anymore! And to control your thoughts and perceptions is aligned with an absolute sense of ‘virtue’. Any other thought, any other idea, has been moved incontrovertibly to the ‘evil spectrum’.

    Once, recently I guess, you could at least *think* them (and think freely), but now any thought of this sort is ‘undercut immediately’. I just think this is the most amazing thing.

    So, all this complaint about how business, government and corporations are ‘caving in’ to the demands of BLM and whoever they bring along with them is disingenuine!

    You have a direct role in this. And you substantially support it!

    • Correction to the above. 🙂

      [I’d like to dedicate this post to Steve Witherspoon’s front teeth. Namely (or numberly) 7, 8, 9, 10 & 23, 24, 25, and 26. (And note this might be the first time in our history — I can speak for no other — that an essay has been devoted to a man’s teeth! So, a glorious first.]
      ___________________________________________________

      Jack wrote: “That accurately states my pro-Woodrow Wilson case. It’s a slippery slope argument, and rooted in my nearly absolutist opposition to removing statutes and other honors to historical figures when they go out of fashion, rightly or wrongly. I am particularly adamant when the target of Soviet-style air-brushing is a President of the United States.

      However, the anti-Wilson case is strong, and it is growing on me.”

  5. They then demanded that the school reject “the racist legacy of Woodrow Wilson” by removing his name from anything bearing it.

    Idiots!

    You can reject his racist legacy without removing his name from everything. His name was likely never meant to honor his legacy.

    However, if we want to spin things, we could just as easily say that the removal of his name from everything is Princeton’s attempt to hide its racist past without properly making atonement.

    As a former president of Princeton, there is every reason to honor him at Princeton.

    Yes, his effect on the country was horrible, particularly as it relates to race relations. I have little or nothing good to say about him. But he was a significant president (mostly in bad ways).

    It does not mean closing your eyes to him; it only means opening them wider.

    -Jut

  6. Why are these black students at these elite colleges so angry about names and statues? They are AT their respective elite colleges, probably without having to pay any tuition. Doesn’t that fact speak volumes? This is 2020, not 1960 or 1920 or 1860. You have the opportunity to get a Yale or Princeton degree and make a fortune in any number of endeavors. Don’t blow your chance by taking grievance courses. Go to class. Get an economics degree. Become an investment banker. Have a school named after you. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

  7. College campuses, not city streets, were ground zero in 2015. Yale and the University of Missouri led the madness. At Mizzou, black students manufactured racial outrage out of ambiguous and off-campus incidents, then engaged in what Ethics Alarms then termed an “I’m mad at the world and somebody has to pay for it” tantrum (Hmmm! Still sounds pretty good!), demanding all sorts of special accommodations and race-based policies and hirings, and demanding the university president’s resignation. Thomas Wolfe did resign, giving us an early precedent for all the capitulation and cowardice we are seeing today. As we’re seeing today, intimidation, race-bullying and attacks on free expression and language were part of the assault:

    Amherst students demanded a crack-down on any free speech in the form of criticism of Black Lives Matters or the protest goals.
    Dartmouth’s Black Lives Matters members roamed through the campus library, verbally assaulting white students attempting to study.
    Smith College held a sit-in, and barred reporters-–the new breed of campus freedom-fighters just don’t like that pesky First Amendment—unless they promised to cover the protest positively. .
    Occidental College students occupied a three-story administration building, demanding “a series of actions ranging from racist to just unreasonable to oppressive” in the name of “safety” and “diversity”, of course. Predictably, the leftist faculty which helped make the students this way were fully supportive.Refresh your recollections with the list of student demands here; my favorites: demanding an increase in tenured black professors and black doctors; funding for the student group for black men, which is racist and counter-diverse by definition; and “elimination of military and police rhetoric from all documents and daily discourse.”
    Why is this so familiar?

    I remember this.

    A lot of this had to do with the Great Awokening, which Matthew Yglesias wrote started in 2014.

    http://www.vox.com/2019/3/22/18259865/great-awokening-white-liberals-race-polling-trump-2020

    Pollsters began to see a rapid, sustained change. White Democrats suddenly started expressing dramatically higher levels of concern about racial inequality and discrimination, while showing greater enthusiasm for racial diversity and immigration. (While political disputes around race are often found under the same umbrella as gender and sexual orientation, where attitudes are also shifting, the relatively recent, relatively sudden change that constitutes the Great Awokening is fundamentally about race and its relationship to national identity.)

    There’s also a certain paradox to the Awokening. As white liberals became more vocal about racial inequality, more racially conservative Democrats left the party and helped power Donald Trump’s electoral victory. This backlash gives the impression that there’s a surging tide of white racism in America.

    No doubt this extremism was what incited these racially conservative Democrats to vote for Trump, as they did not trust Democrats to rein in the excesses.

    After all, say the racial resentment skeptics, the Obama-to-Trump flippers were, by definition, willing to vote for Barack Obama — so how racist could they possibly be? A key point to understanding this is that “racial resentment,” as used by political scientists, is a term of art that largely measures political views rather than any kind of interpersonal animosity.

    One traditional factor that goes into the racial resentment mix, for example, is the General Social Survey question that asks whether you agree or disagree with the statement “Irish, Italians, Jewish, and many other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up; blacks should do the same without special favors.”

    This is, in fact, a very revealing query in terms of your understanding of the history of race and ethnicity in the United States. About a third of African Americans disagree with it, which is more than the share of the overall white public but substantially less than the 45 percent of white liberals who say they disagree.

    A big part of what Trump did in the 2016 campaign was simply increase the salience of racial conflict themes, thus boosting his appeal to white voters who may have previously backed Democrats on other grounds. But it’s crucial to understand that, in large part because of the Awokening, Trump is not to blame: Democrats themselves have moved the goalposts in terms of what kind of racial views one is expected to affirm as a good liberal.

    The growing racial liberalism of rank-and-file white Democrats now has party leaders talking about “systemic racism” and sending strong signals to the party’s base about what kinds of attitudes are appropriate for Democrats to hold.

  8. In my little town there is a Confederate monument. It is owned by the United Daughter’s of the Confederacy, who commissioned the monument in 1911, the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the war, and had it set up on a small plot of land to which they obtained title. The monument is dedicated to the Confederate soldier, not to some general or the Confederacy or to slavery. The monument is situated at a prominent junction at what was once the northern edge of the city, but is now in the heart of downtown and the “Historic District.” On the top of the granite monument, a Confederate soldier’s statue stares resolutely to the north, as though ever watchful for the Yankees.
    A few blocks north of the monument is a church-affiliated liberal arts university which has been there since the 1940s. A few weeks ago, a female student at the school began circulating a petition for the “removal” of the monument. She managed to get about 5,000 signatures on her petition, which she presented to city officials. Soon a “counter-petition” began, and those opposed to removing the monument accumulated over 20,000 signatures in 24 hours. The student in question rallied a group of like-minded individuals and they began protesting at the monument site. They left behind some Black Lives Matter signs that were promptly removed and trashed. The UDC requested help from the local police to keep a watch on the site. Counter-protesters from the community soon rallied and held their own demonstrations. All was relatively calm until the student ringleader declared herself (on social media) to be a member of Black Lives Matter. She made an open appeal to BLM for their help. A couple of days later, three BLM-tee-shirt-clad young black men made an attempt to wrap the monument with a large tarp. Local police responded and stopped the tarp-wielders. The group made a video recording of the police response and posted it on social media. You can clearly hear one of the BLM crew calling a black officer an “Uncle Tom.” The police acted with great restraint and poise. One of the BLM crew tried to interfere with the removal of the tarp and was arrested. The next day, the Mayor informed the anti-monument group that the monument was privately owned and located on private property. That being the case, the city had no authority over the monument. Since then, the protesters have been loud, profane, juvenile, and cliched, and counter-protests have been enthusiastic but peaceful. I have heard that the anti-monument group is making behind the scenes overtures to the UDC chapter, attempting to persuade them to agree to removing the monument to a less offensive location, such as a cemetery a couple of miles away where some Confederates are buried. There it would be away from the sensitive and oppressed eyes of the perpetually offended. The vast majority of community residents apparently don’t favor relocation of the monument, but really it is up to the owners. I am hoping the UDC remains resolute.

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