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