Woodrow Wilson’s name should have never been put on
Yet President Wilson ended up being honored by having his name plastered on buildings, schools and bridges (like here in Washington, D.C) more than most Presidents, in part because influential Democratic historians, notably Kennedy family flack Arthur Schlesinger Jr., pushed the false narrative that he was a great idealist and a great leader. This required burying Wilson’s well-documented record as a racist, though the rest of his record wasn’t great either.
In Part I, I gave the official Ethics Alarms argument for not tearing down honors to Wilson now that Black Lives Matters and its allies are in full Soviet/Maoist cultural bulldozing mode. When Wilson is gone, I see little stopping the mob from tearing down Franklin D. Roosevelt memorials next, to name just one example of where this slippery slope leads.
Despite leading our nation through an existential depression and World War II, FDR had his own black marks regarding racism and discrimination, arguably as many as Wilson. In 1916, a document was discovered showing that Roosevelt, as Wilson’s Deputy Secretary of the Navy, personally signed an order segregating bathrooms in the Navy Department. As President, FDR wouldn’t allow his black and white White House servants to eat together. Everyone knows (or should) that he imprisoned about 70,000 American citizens because they were Japanese, and just last year, “The Jews Should Keep Quiet: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise and the Holocaust” revealed archival evidence of FDR’s callous and bigoted treatment of European Jews prior to and during the Holocaust. Franklin Roosevelt was a racist and an anti-Semite. When we get into retroactively dishonoring Presidents virtually all of them are at risk.
However, there are persuasive arguments that Wilson is a special case.
Four years after it decided to keep Wilson’s name over the objections of students, Princeton University will remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges, the university’s president Christopher L. Eisgruber announced, saying in part,
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.
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.
Less rational was this section:
“Princeton is part of an America that has too often disregarded, ignored, or excused racism, allowing the persistence of systems that discriminate against Black people. When Derek Chauvin knelt for nearly nine minutes on George Floyd’s neck while bystanders recorded his cruelty, he might have assumed that the system would disregard, ignore, or excuse his conduct, as it had done in response to past complaints against him.”
This is an admission that the decision, which reverses one just four years earlier by the same board and president when all the evidence of Wilson’s racism was known, is less based on principle than on fear of the mob created by a case of police abuse in Minneapolis. It is bizarre to blame Woodrow Wilson or Princeton for that. The decision to dishonor Wilson is muddied by the George Floyd Freakout, not clarified by it.
In another jarring note, Eisgruber said that Princeton’s board of trustees found that 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.”
His thinking? Princeton is punishing him for what he thought? Is the new progressive, Black Lives Matter regime going to prosecute thought-crime? This is far from the first clue that it might.
Conservative law professor Randy Burnett amassed a strong argument that Wilson’s racism is simply too overwhelming to tolerate. He states, “No doubt there are others whose names should also be expunged. But because of his record of official racism and betrayal,Wilson’s name should be first on any such list.” Some examples selected by the professor:
- From Reason’s The Menacing Mr. Wilson:
Wilson’s racist views were hardly a secret. His own published work was peppered with Lost Cause visions of a happy antebellum South. As president of Princeton, he had turned away black applicants, regarding their desire for education to be “unwarranted.” He was elected president because the 1912 campaign featured a third party, Theodore Roosevelt’s Bullmoose Party, which drew Republican votes from incumbent William Howard Taft. Wilson won a majority of votes in only one state (Arizona) outside the South.
What Wilson’s election meant to the South was “home rule;” that is, license to pursue its racial practices without concern about interference from the federal government. . . . But “home rule” was only the beginning.
- Here is what W.E.B Dubois thought of Wilson’s racist policies:
President Wilson’s initial policy measures were so stridently anti-black, Du Bois felt obliged to write “Another Open Letter to Woodrow Wilson” in September 1913. Du Bois was blunt, writing that “[I]t is no exaggeration to say that every enemy of the Negro race is greatly encouraged; that every man who dreams of making the Negro race a group of menials and pariahs is alert and hopeful.” Listing the most notorious racists of the era, including “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman,** Du Bois wrote that they were undoubtedly encouraged since “not a single act” or “a single word” from Wilson “has given anyone reason” to believe that he will act positively with respect to African Americans citing the removal of several black appointees from office and the appointment of a single black whom was “such a contemptible cur, that his very nomination was an insult to every Negro in the land.” Altogether the segregationist and discriminatory policies of Wilson in his first six months alone were judged by Du Bois to be the “gravest attack on the liberties” of African Americans since Emancipation.
In a tone that was almost threatening Du Bois wrote the president that there exist “foolish people who think that such policy has no limit and that lynching “Jim Crowism,” segregation and insult are to be permanent institutions in America.” Pointing to the segregation in the Treasury and Post Office Departments Du Bois wrote Wilson of the “colored clerks [that] have been herded to themselves as though they were not human beings” and of the one clerk “who could not actually be segregated on account of the nature of his work” who, therefore, “had a cage built around him to separate him from his white companions of many years,” he asked President Wilson a long series of questions. “Mr. Wilson, do you know these things? Are you responsible for them? Did you advise them? Do you know that no other group of American citizens has ever been treated in this way and that no President of the United States ever dared to propose such treatment?”
- From “The long-forgotten racial attitudes and policies of Woodrow Wilson,” by Boston University historian William R. Keylor:
[On March 4th, 1913] Democrat Thomas Woodrow Wilson became the first Southerner elected president since Zachary Taylor in 1848….The new administration brought to power a generation of political leaders from the old South who would play influential roles in Washington for generations to come.
..Washington was a rigidly segregated town — except for federal government agencies. They had been integrated during the post-war Reconstruction period, enabling African-Americans to obtain federal jobs and work side by side with whites in government agencies. Wilson promptly authorized members of his cabinet to reverse this long-standing policy of racial integration in the federal civil service.
Cabinet heads — such as his son-in-law, Secretary of the Treasury William McAdoo of Tennessee – re-segregated facilities such as restrooms and cafeterias in their buildings. In some federal offices, screens were set up to separate white and black workers. African-Americans found it difficult to secure high-level civil service positions, which some had held under previous Republican administrations.
A delegation of black professionals led by Monroe Trotter, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard and Boston newspaper editor, appeared at the White House to protest the new policies. But Wilson treated them rudely and declared that “segregation is not a humiliation but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen.”
The novel “The Clansman” by Thomas Dixon – a longtime political supporter, friend and former classmate of Wilson’s at Johns Hopkins University – was published in 1905. A decade later, with Wilson in the White House, cinematographer D.W. Griffith produced a motion picture version of the book, titled “Birth of a Nation.”
With quotations from Wilson’s scholarly writings in its subtitles, the silent film denounced the Reconstruction period in the South when blacks briefly held elective office in several states. It hailed the rise of the Ku Klux Klan as a sign of southern white society’s recovery from the humiliation and suffering to which the federal government and the northern “carpetbaggers” had subjected it after its defeat in the Civil War. The film depicted African-Americans (most played by white actors in blackface) as uncouth, uncivilized rabble.
While the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People publicly denounced the movie’s blatant appeals to racial prejudice, the president organized a private screening of his friend’s film in the White House for the members of his cabinet and their families. “It is like writing history with lightning,” Wilson observed, “and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.”
- Finally, from History Matters, is the exchange between Wilson and Monroe Trotter:
Monroe Trotter. Mr. President, we are here to renew our protest against the segregation of colored employees in the departments of our National Government. We [had] appealed to you to undo this race segregation in accord with your duty as President and with your pre-election pledges to colored American voters. We stated that such segregation was a public humiliation and degradation, and entirely unmerited and far-reaching in its injurious effects. . . .
President Wilson. The white people of the country, as well as I, wish to see the colored people progress, and admire the progress they have already made, and want to see them continue along independent lines. There is, however, a great prejudice against colored people. . . . It will take one hundred years to eradicate this prejudice, and we must deal with it as practical men. Segregation is not humiliating, but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen. If your organization goes out and tells the colored people of the country that it is a humiliation, they will so regard it, but if you do not tell them so, and regard it rather as a benefit, they will regard it the same. The only harm that will come will be if you cause them to think it is a humiliation.
Monroe Trotter. It is not in accord with the known facts to claim that the segregation was started because of race friction of white and colored [federal] clerks. The indisputable facts of the situation will not permit of the claim that the segregation is due to the friction. It is untenable, in view of the established facts, to maintain that the segregation is simply to avoid race friction, for the simple reason that for fifty years white and colored clerks have been working together in peace and harmony and friendliness, doing so even through two [President Grover Cleveland] Democratic administrations. Soon after your inauguration began, segregation was drastically introduced in the Treasury and Postal departments by your appointees.
President Wilson. If this organization is ever to have another hearing before me it must have another spokesman. Your manner offends me. . . . Your tone, with its background of passion.
Yes, it’s true: in addition to being a proud racist, Woodrow Wilson was also an insufferable jerk. Of course, that’s not considered a problem in the Ivy league.
35 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 II: The Case For Expunging Wilson [Corrected]”
Hey! Here’s some good news on the Wilson front: Monument levelers and cancellers want to do away with the federal income tax because it was signed into law by Wilson. Brilliant! I’m all in! Someone’s finally feeling MY pain! Mrs. OB and I will be SAFE from having to pay federal income tax. Whew! Finally, the nanny state is looking out for ME! To the extent Arizona’s income tax is a kind of sort of baby federal income tax, I think it should be done away with as well! Now that’s what I call PROGRESS!
“Naming a school of international relations and diplomacy after the 28th President is like naming a firehouse after Mrs. O’Leary’s cow.”
Now THAT’S a keeper, Jack!
On the subject of the Great Chicago Fire, I’m surprised the arbiter of all things America’s Dairyland (OB) hasn’t posted that a FAR more destructive fire, by nearly every measure, occurred in Peshtigo WESsonsin (a short 44.2/71.13 kms from his beloved Pulaski) the very same day.
Don’t know what that has do with Wilson (DISCLOSURE: I lived @120 W. Wilson St. from 08/01/1982 to 08/31/1984), but we should get to Kevin Bacon shortly….
From me to Woodrow Wilson: I knew Hollywood publicist Bob McElwaine, who knew Mickey Rooney as a kid. Rooney knew Jimmy Cagney (they were in “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream”) who met George M. Cohan while making “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” Cohan got a medal from FDR, who knew Wilson.
Six degrees of Separation!
As for Kevin Bacon, he was in Cave-dweller (2004) with Jackie Burroughs, who was in The Care Bears Movie (1985) with Mickey Rooney. So Kevin is also six degrees from Woodrow!
Now just a cheese curd minute there, Paulie! What about “Yes, it’s true: in addition to being a proud racist, Woodrow Wilson was also an insufferable jerk. Of course, that’s not considered a problem in the Ivy league.” You going to just let that slide by unnoticed and unheralded? I think not.
Wow! Did not know about the fires. From the wiki article on the Peshtigo fire:
“The combination of wind, topography and ignition sources that created the firestorm, primarily representing the conditions at the boundaries of human settlement and natural areas, is known as the “Peshtigo Paradigm”. The condition was closely studied by the American and British military during World War II to learn how to recreate firestorm conditions for bombing campaigns against cities in Germany and Japan. The bombing of Dresden and the even more severe bombing of Tokyo by incendiary devices resulted in death tolls comparable to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”
Have driven through Door County so have been in the area. Yikes. 2500 perished. Forget Kevin Bacon, who’d a thunk there’s a connection between Door County and Peshtigo and the fire bombings of Dresden and Tokyo? Sheesh.
Peshtigo’s in Marinette County, just across Lake Michigan’s Green Bay (GO PACKERS!) from Door County.
Yes. Frankly, I found Door County, like much of industrial cheese and butter producing Wesconsin, disappointing, Paulie, despite Mrs. OB’s sister telling us it was the greatest thing since… Vince Lombardi. I need to go to Taliesin (East) sometime. Mrs. OB’s sister has relocated to Appleton into, what appears to me to be, a prefab double wide. I was a Frank Lloyd Wright aficionado as a kid, well before I knew what aficionado meant, or even existed. We listened to a Packers game as we drove through Door County. Mike Murphy was struggling at that time.
Taliesin is a must. And Spring Green in general might just change your mind about Wisconsin.
Shhh…FIBs may be listening…
Better than mud ducks.
Sent me to google with that one; the Urban Dictionary definitions went downhill at warp speed!
Ah! A mud duck is a Minnesotan who has moved to WI. Living on the St. Croix, a mud duck is a Minnesotan in general. They come over the river in droves.
There’s a very tempting Usonian house for sale in Wausau. Is Wausau nice. I’ve heard it is. Lot’s of FLW in greater Phoenix due to Taliesin West and its predecessor, Ocotillo and his wintering here.
My guess is that it’s mud duck season in America’s Dairyland right now, for sure.
IMO, Wausau is a “wannabe” town, whose main claim to fame is being ~ halfway between suffocating insanity (the 77 Square Miles Surrounded By A Sea Of Reality) and Valhalla.
Apologies: about ten irritating typos that I was in the process of fixing when I had to do an errand that lasted about 45 minutes. They are fixed now.
They weren’t all American citizens and it wasn’t ‘just because they were Japanese’. Japanese that lived outside the exclusion zones were not relocated. One thing people often forget about World War II is that there was a war going on. And ignore the ‘just as American as George Washington’ Japanese that returned to Japan to fight against the US. That’s the big flaw in Lincoln’s ‘Propositional Nation’. Nobody really believes it.
Only the West Coast was off-limits. Most of those still in camps by war’s end did not have marketable skills, could not speak English or speak it well enough, or were too old or too young. The Japanese Americans living in Hawaii, aka the Buddhaheads (their own term, as opposed to the Katonks on the mainland), weren’t touched, since there were too many of them. Still grossly unfair, as was the poor treatment of Italian-Americans, who were only allowed to join the fight in 1942.
Then again we had John Basilone the Marine who joined the Corp in 1940 and who played a crucial role in defending Henderson Field on Guadalcanal from waves of Japanese.
He had already served in the army, and was already in the Marines before the start of the war. There’s a statue of him and a parade for him in Raritan, NJ, every year (I went once, in 2015). Italian-American longshoremen and fishermen on the West Coast got pushed east. Restrictions were lifted on Columbus Day (sorry, I know you’re not supposed to say that) 1942.
OK, 62% of the 120,000 interned were citizens. That’s over 70,000 citizens, and the rest innocent, untried, uncharged residents. I’ll fix the number, but what earthy difference does it make regarding the pure racism involved and the Constitutional violation? About 11,000 Germans were interned.
It doesn’t mitigate the vile nature of this that some Japanese-American returned to Japan. So what? How does that justify other citizens?
I will say that “One thing people often forget about World War II is that there was a war going on” is a fascinating sentence, and I salute you for it.
IMHO an appropriate way to permit the name change without unleashing the mob would be to have a student and faculty commission develop the rationale for the name changes, a list of alternate names, and a timetable for action. The trustees should be charged with developing the counter argument as to why the names should remain unchanged if they are so moved. Alums could provide some sort of amicus brief for either side.
Forcing both sides to justify their positions is far better than giving the appearance you are caving in to the mob. Putting a work requirement usually culls the field of complainers.
Yes, that would be the rational way to do it.
Good luck with that. I’m trying to be rational with the Hamilton College Stalinists. They aren’t interested in engaging.
But the mob isn’t interested in putting in work. As far as the mob is concerned the work has already been done. The folks who yanked down the Columbus statue in St. Paul said openly that they’d already gone through the process and they weren’t getting anywhere, so they were taking matters into their own hands.
The more I have learned about Wilson over the years, the more I dislike him. In addition to his racist ideas, he came close to getting us in a war with Mexico when he ordered Pershing to go on a pointless chase to hunt down Villa all over Northern Mexico. In addition his performance at Versailles trying to convince Lloyd George and Clemenceau was a disaster. Never should an academic be President of the U.S.
Wilson was instrumental in creating the punitive Versailles Treaty that ended World War I and lit the fuse for World War II, and his decision to enter the Great War was a national catastrophe. Wilson was a scholar who wrote convincing books about governing, but he found reality more than challenging.
It is probably a bit irritating that I keep commenting on parts of your perspective in American politics. If so I hope that you will resolve not to mind. You always have implied, quite unfairly, that my ideas and perspectives are those of an *idiot* and I accepted this, of course. What most irritates me about that is that it has allowed notable sycophants to use that insinuation as a foil. But that to the side . . .
I do not well enough understand politics generally, and certainly not global politics, well enough to have any conclusive opinions. But you seem to, and they are very confusing and they seem contradictory. Yet the implication in what you write about grand political issues is that ‘ethics’ or ethical approaches can or should be a factor in the conclusions we come to. And a great deal of what you write about has to do — directly — with political issues. Specifically the political policies that have determined America in the 20th century.
I fully do not grasp how you — an apologist for American power nearly verging on jingoism — fail to understand (or perhaps appreciate is the word) that though entry into WW1 can be seen as a disaster for people, for the populace, it was in no sense a bad move for the industrial sector and also the propaganda and PR sector.
If my understanding is correct it was in the very early 1900s that the industry of PR and propaganda was born: the tools through which huge social engineering projects were begun. It was around that time that people like Walter Lippmann — rational and intelligent — began to articulate the doctrine and ideology behind ‘mass manipulation’. That is, to see the people as a mass that required direction by elite, managing planners. I do not see you as having even a slight critical posture about any of this. Like a genuine American Conservative you often seem to brush such criticism aside in favor of what you have described as a ‘big kid on the block’ political philosophy. But that ‘big kid’ is a corrupt player and uses corrupt means to subvert true and proper Constitutional forms.
I would argue that through these machinations and mechanisms — if one were concerned about such things and often I get the impression that you are not — that extremely powerful financial and industrial sectors used their power to insinuate themselves into government and to determine policy. If my understanding is correct this is what ‘swamp’ means: corruption of government to favor powerful players. And if what I present here is true in any degree, and though the war may have been a disaster ‘socially’, it was in no sense a disaster for those forces and powers that take advantage of the harm done to the populace to advance their own goals and interests. See for example Randolph Bourne:
Bourne is best known for his essays, especially his unfinished work “The State,” discovered after he died. The essay is the source of the well-known phrase “war is the health of the state,” by which Bourne lamented governments’ success at arrogating authority and resources during conflicts.
I have never gotten the impression in anything you have written that you can even see what concern is being pointed to here. Quite literally not ever. But the strange irony is that this observation and concern can only be understood as ‘profoundly ethical’. So, such concerns cannot be brushed aside and they must be allowed and encouraged. When the Left was genuinely a Left and when it genuinely had ‘the American worker’ in mind as its central concern, the opposition to war and its machination made great sense indeed. Now everything is totally confused . . .
I would also suggest — but someone like Steve would likely have more to say on the matter — that the entry of the US governmental and industrial system into that war set the stage for the building up of the industrial sector generally. And it set the stage for the eventual entry into the next and developing conflict. But war-preparations are said not to avoid war — this is the clever lie — but to lead to war. And if this is true then an argument can be made that war is sought, war is desired, war serves a function and as Bourne said “War is the health of the state”.
And if what I allude to is true it can indicate that getting involved in WW2, despite the propaganda view that this was necessary to *save the world* can be subjected to a harsher analysis. And if other critical positions are possible, and if they are coherent (and describe reality without ‘quotations’), then all sorts of critical vistas open to our understanding of the disastrous affairs of Europe. Questions can be asked such as why, when it is thought through rationally, the US and Britain did take such a harsh stance against Germany. And why as it actually turned out they helped construct the powerful Communist state. And there are many many other questions that can be asked. Questions that have to do with the Americanopolis not as a fully *positive* entity or state, but as something that requires certain levels of resistance. That is, intellectual opposition.
But much of this — and here I speak in a general sense to an American Conservative — you will simply not allow to be discussed. You do not discuss it and you inhibit the conversation of it! And yet you are an ethicist and place ethics at the core — as a primary consideration — of all that you do. This does not make any sense at all to me.
But here is the other part of my critical observations: You tell me in absolutely certain terms, in declared ethical terms that are not open to any level of critical dissent, that the entire direction of American society and culture — and here I refer to the creation of the Multi-Ethnic state and the policies and ideologies that constructed it — is all good, necessary and ethical. You seem to have absolutely no way to define a position that would allow European-Americans as European-Americans to define and defend them self as such. I do understand that such an idea has been made ultra-illegal and thoughtcriminal (and I constantly refer to this) and I also understand that admitting any other position would be a professional disaster for you personally (and I acknowledge that you genuinely do not think in such terms and I accept that your views are expressed in total good faith and honestly).
However there is what I might call a *new critical position*. I refer to it as Dissident Right or perhaps Dissident Conservatism which takes direct issue with what I understand to be your sort of Conservatism (which you know that I define somewhat differently). It takes a long view of history — the last 100 years say — and notices in what it has culminated. It is now ‘flowering’ in riotous *colored* mobs with their *allies* rampaging through the entire culture, up and down, in unfettered control. How has this come about? And — here is a general question fo the American Conservative so-called — How in the name of Heaven did you allow all this to take place? What is your relationship to it? To what degree are you complicit in it? You present your self to me as the Ethical Authority of American history and culture insofar as you tell me, directly, what is right and proper and good. But look what has taken shape! Look what has resulted from these corruptions I outline. (Note: I do recognize you as a genuine authority on ethics lest there be any confusion. I am uncertain if you can make larger declarations though or even that ‘ethics’ as you define it can be applied there).
Consider just one: what was a disaster for the social fabric of the US as a result of being conned and manipulated into the Great War (when people decidedly did not want it). The beginning of the break-down of the social fabric. And now what do we see? The further evolution of breakdown in actually conservative social structures and the acute rise of a Globo-Homo Culture that is sold to the world! I say there is a relationship between a general corrupting influence and its various minor areas of manifestation. All of it is ‘of a piece’. Yet your analysis of ethics and your view of situations is always local, particular and atomized. The Dissident Right is involved in meta-political analysis and a holistic critical position.
The American Conservative Right needs to be challenged. And what I write here is offered in good faith and genuinely.
“it was in no sense a bad move for the industrial sector and also the propaganda and PR sector.”
Yes, this has been accepted and well-understood since the Thirties or earlier. Marc Blitzstein’s “The Cradle Will Rock” had a song about it. I neither said nor implied that it was a bad move for American industry and arms manufacturers, because most educated people know that part of the story.
“Is the new progressive, Black Lives Matter regime going to prosecute thought-crime?”
This is an entirely rhetorical question, right? Even Republicans and red state governments have embraced the idea of “hate crimes” and the tortured rationalization necessary to explain how the penalties are not punishment for thought.
Some adjustment at Princeton is probably in order. Putting Wilson entirely down the memory hole is not.
Here’s the next historical racist on the list (already receiving some attention)…some quotes and actions:
“If I could save the union without freeing any slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”
Major General Frémont, commander of Union forces in Missouri, had issued an order freeing the slaves of Confederate sympathizers in Missouri. Incensed by Frémont’s assumption of authority and fearful that the measure would “alarm our Southern Union friends, and turn them against us,” he revoked the order.
Clearly not a person sufficiently committed to racial equality.
Another tangential bit, for what, if anything, it’s worth:
W.E.B. DuBois did not consider “race” a biological determinant of human behavior, but did believe in “racial identities” as “…valuable properties of human individuals, and that racial solidarity can help realize such human goods as equality and self-actualization.” He apparently considered “racialism” a valid, neutral term, as compared to “racism”.
Do DuBois and our Alizia share a common ground?
I continue with my critical analysis of aspects of your political and social view. Again I recognize that this might be irritating. And certainly your various ‘sycophants’ as I call them (I am thinking of Steve W. and Alicia principally: those who can barely think and have zero ideas on any topic) object that I have the audacity to do this and also to think differently, and widely, in related categories.
I also recognize that you and others have contempt (a kind of hatred) for what I think and that I think it. I receive ridicule and all sort of different blocking efforts. Instead of being bothered by this I receive that information differently, process it differently, and interpret it differently: I regard you-plural as suffering under pathologies. These are not merely empty observations: I can elucidate and explain clearly and rationally why I think this.
You have now aligned Woodrow Wilson with FDR in a substantial way. Wilson obviously held racialist ideas that in our present have become ‘unthinkable thought’ and thoughtcrime. And FDR is now linked with what you-plural (an entire culture) refer to in a glossary way as anti-semitism. Any critique of Jews or Jewry is anti-semitic. Thinking about Jews is anti-semitic. Having any particular idea or opinion about Jews is generally always a sign of anti-semitism. And God Forbid if a Gentile has any critical perspective. But too when a Jew becomes mildly critical of Jews or Jewry, and also the policies of Israel, they too are attacked and dismembered.
Rafael Medoff’s book — the one you refer to above — is a unique genre. There is a Jewish frame-of-mind that has to seek out and find evidence of anti-Semitic attitudes. To seek out and vilify any expression of idea that might inhibit Jewish advance. And the purpose of Medoff’s book is to do just that. But all of this is very complex, and very fraught, that talking about it rationally becomes extraordinarily difficult. And talking about it also becomes politically and personally dangerous.
According to Medoff and what one can call a ‘school’ of Jewish thinking, anyone who opposes the Jewish ascendency in culture (here the culture of the US but anywhere in fact) is ‘bad & evil’. Any ideas that are shared about this ‘project’ are ‘bad & evil’ and they are only shared by ‘bad & evil’ persons. These people, these Jews, craft a narrative and a perspective that does not and cannot allow any critical idea to be expressed that inhibits the Jewish project. And to speak of a Jewish project in respect to America is immediately suspect.
Simply by opening a conversation as I have just done is immediately understood to be an evil act. It cannot be allowed. Thus around the topic there are walls of control and coercion. Everyone knows this, certainly all Gentiles. There are certain things that you had better not ever talk about if you want to be viewed as a ‘decent person’. But if you break the rules you will be destroyed. One need only refer to the SPLC’s Hate list and their Hate Map. But the general attitude is astoundingly pervasive.
Franklin Roosevelt was a racist and an anti-Semite
First, the *function* of this bold statement has to be examined. First, it asserts that to be such a ‘racist’ and to be such an anti-Semite’ is absolutely wrong. It doesn’t have to explain this or give any background. To have any contrary idea or sense is unquestionably wrong. No question can be asked.
As such it is non-different from all those on the Liberal-Progressive pole who use these terms to inhibit, or destroy, the possibility of rational conversation about them. This is an important point and I dwell on it for very good reasons. I say that we must examine, very carefully, every area or zone where free-thinking is blocked, not allowed, and vilified. And especially those zones where a peculiar ‘blame & shame’ is brought to bear. So, putting aside the question of ‘race’ or ‘Jewry’ — very hot topics indeed! — I have developed a strategy or methodology in regard to ‘coerced thought’ and ‘thought control’ when I encounter it. And that is to consider it possible that there, in that suppressed topic, there may well be something important, even something crucial, to consider and to grasp.
So I come to this in relation to just 2 categories:
a) All ideas that pertain to *race* and ethnicity and everything that hovers around these ideas, or accretes in them or near them, must be brought out for rational conversation. For free and open examination. And so that a given person can come to her or his own opinion or conclusion.
b) All ideas that pertain to Jews, Jewry, Judaism, ‘Jewish project’, the Jewish Diaspora, Jewish power and influence, and all aspects of Jewish history, all of these must be made to be areas of free and open inquiry, such that a given person can arrive at her or his own opinion about them.
And in regard to each of these (these are the principle ones but there are a group of others) any person is free to arrive at, to talk about, and to share, any of their ideas & conclusions without being vilified or banned or personally or professionally destroyed.
Going further: all ideas, any and all ideas, no matter how ‘wrong’ they have been made to seem, are to be opened completely and totally to honest, rational inquiry. In every area where controls and coercion become operative, this control and coercion is to be noticed and talked about. The object being to recover all those areas and zones that have been made crimethink in that Orwellian sense.
I would like to believe that this defines my sense of *intellectual project*. And I would like to believe, and confess that I do believe, that the bulk of opposition that I get (ridicule, vilification, condemnation, et cetera) comes about because I seek to expand the limits of what is conversable.
This is a bad look, Alizia. As the Rabbi’s book extensively documents, Roosevelt surrounded himself with anti-Semites, and deliberately too actions that enabled the Holocaust. Wilson was a white sepremecist who set back civil rights decades. There no debating these things; they are facts, though both have been denied and spun for decades. Signaling approval for outright racism is also unambiguous.
I also request that you change avatars. The Confederate flag is a legitimate graphic in many contexts, but in your case, it can only be interpreted as a defiant defense of racism. You should know better.
My use of it — I put it up for a moment because it is my nature to be contrary and oppositional! — does not have to do with racism or supporting racism. It has to do with independence, as I explained to Steve. My interpretation of the South obviously is different than is yours.
No, it really isn’t. I accept that the flag represented independence to most, even all Confederate combatants. However, as the historical consensus, rightly or wrongly, has asserted that the independence first and foremost meant independence from the need to end slavery, the symbol today, absent other context, must be taken as a racial insult to African Americans.
Medoff’s book has been critiqued by other Jewish writers.
What Rafael Medoff wrote about, the perspective he offered, is a set of opinions about some ideas and attitudes Roosevelt had or is said to have had. In a larger context Medoff’s assertions have another role. I went through Medoff’s assertions. They are these that follow and each of these he located within Roosevelt the man:
a) That it is criminal and wrong to have concern about Jews who seek positions of control and power within culture.
b) That it is criminal and wrong to be concerned about Jewish tendency to influence social policies.
c) That it is criminal and wrong for any people, anywhere, to have any such feelings or ideas.
d) That it is criminal and wrong to be concerned for one’s ‘racial identity’ or integrity.
e) That it is criminal and wrong to have any negative feelings about Blacks (or in Roosevelt’s case Asians).
f) That is is criminal and wrong to desire to keep America Anglo-saxon and Protestant.
The angle that I am working is just as I explain it:
I do not believe it to be necessarily wrong, unethical or immoral to have racialist ideas. Nor to desire to ‘conserve one’s own’. Nor to favor Anglo-Saxons (or Protestants) as a supermajority.
I also do not consider it necessarily wrong to be concerned about Jewish influence. To think about it, to study it, to write about it, and to communicate it.
I think that the term ‘racist’ is used in far too glossary a manner. And I think the same for the term anti-Semite. I recognize that what I am saying is thoughtcrime.
Finally, the view that FDR acted harmfully against Jewry in Europe is contradicted by Richard Breitman of Brown University. Rooservelt may have held some or all of the ideas that Medoff has accused him of having, but he did not necessarily contribute to the destruction of Jewry in Europe as a result.
Here a Jewish researcher gives another view, and a counter-opinion, to those offered by Medoff and those who work those angles.
This is not about ‘look’ for me. It is about establishing true bases for knowledge and understanding. As a first step to being able to understand what goes on around us.