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Wed Nov 18, 2015, 08:49 PM

Students want Woodrow Wilson's name removed from Princeton

Source: Associated Press

Students want Woodrow Wilson's name removed from Princeton

Updated 6:15 pm, Wednesday, November 18, 2015


PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) — Students staged a protest Wednesday inside the office of Princeton University's president, demanding the school remove the name of former school president and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson from programs and buildings over what they said was his racist legacy.

Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber told the students he agreed with them that Wilson was racist and that the university needs to acknowledge that, according to a video posted to YouTube. But a school spokesman said the president also told students it is important to weigh Wilson's racism, and how bad it was, with the contributions he made to the nation.

Wilson was president of Princeton from 1902 to 1910 and served as New Jersey's governor from 1911 to 1913, when he entered the White House. The Democrat was a leading progressive but supported segregation, including appointing Cabinet members who segregated federal departments.

About 30 black and white students, from a group called the Black Justice League, took part in the protest, demanding a range of changes to improve the social and academic experience of black students. Scores of other students joined in the protest outside the building.



Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/us/article/Princeton-students-protest-in-president-s-office-6641238.php

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Reply Students want Woodrow Wilson's name removed from Princeton (Original post)
Judi Lynn Nov 2015 OP
zentrum Nov 2015 #1
MADem Nov 2015 #2
Feeling the Bern Nov 2015 #4
Herman4747 Nov 2015 #3
MADem Nov 2015 #5
starroute Nov 2015 #7
starroute Nov 2015 #9
JackRiddler Nov 2015 #14
philosslayer Nov 2015 #24
bigworld Nov 2015 #6
Omaha Steve Nov 2015 #8
Charlie Brown Nov 2015 #10
JackRiddler Nov 2015 #15
Charlie Brown Nov 2015 #20
JackRiddler Nov 2015 #27
Charlie Brown Nov 2015 #28
JackRiddler Nov 2015 #29
DBoon Nov 2015 #21
MFrohike Nov 2015 #11
Elmergantry Nov 2015 #22
Reter Nov 2015 #12
iandhr Nov 2015 #13
Hoppy Nov 2015 #16
MisterP Nov 2015 #17
Hoppy Nov 2015 #18
Recursion Nov 2015 #19
One_Life_To_Give Nov 2015 #23
JackRiddler Nov 2015 #30
geek tragedy Nov 2015 #25
JackRiddler Nov 2015 #31
Herman4747 Nov 2015 #26
JackRiddler Nov 2015 #32

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Nov 18, 2015, 08:55 PM

1. Until we have Truth and Reconciliation

Trials and people are allowed to know the depth and breadth of the history of racism in this country, all these racists' names need to come down.

Once people know the truth—then let the decision to keep or take down go forward.

Until then, take them down. It's like Princeton flying the confederate flag and saying "but it's our tradition".

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Nov 18, 2015, 08:58 PM

2. He was kinda sexist, too.

He did have that League of Nations thing working for him, OTOH. That's why his name is on the School of International Affairs.

He wouldn't last a New York minute with his attitudes nowadays, and his legacy is forever besmirched by his failure to be decent to his fellow humans, but his bigotry was par for the course in his era.

Love this phrase "The Democrat was a leading progressive..." proving, once again, that "progressive" is NOT a synonym for "liberal."

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Response to MADem (Reply #2)

Wed Nov 18, 2015, 09:57 PM

4. Let's not forget his unceclared quagmire into Mexico.

 

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Nov 18, 2015, 09:52 PM

3. This guy won a Nobel Peace Prize...

 

...played a very large role in winning and putting an end to the misery of World War One, and started the League of Nations, paving the way for a later United Nations.
Now, does the good outweigh the bad?

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Response to Herman4747 (Reply #3)

Wed Nov 18, 2015, 10:16 PM

5. I think, through the long lens of history, it's important to recognize the whole guy.

The good, the bad, and the ugly. And the weird and odd, too. I mean, you can't talk about Wilson without talking about the first woman President of the United States--well before Nancy Reagan!


You know, like we're starting to get a feel for Thomas Jefferson, after two centuries of ignoring what a lot of people knew contemporaneous with his life.

I am a fan of sunshine AND context!!! And HISTORY! Put it all out there--it's important to know where we came from, it helps us to figure out where we're going!

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Response to Herman4747 (Reply #3)

Wed Nov 18, 2015, 10:36 PM

7. It isn't really about the good outweighing the bad

It's about the fact that this country continues to honor acknowledged racists in a way that prevents minority students from feeling fully a part of the college community.

I mean, if you were a black student, would you feel comfortable attending the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs for your undergraduate studies? Or having your dorm room in Wilson College?

Let them honor him if they must in some way that doesn't say, "We belong here and you don't."


On edit: Also this, from Alternet. "As president of Princeton University, he said, 'The whole temper and tradition of the place [Princeton] are such that no Negro has ever applied for admission, and it seems unlikely that the question will ever assume practical form.'”

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Response to Herman4747 (Reply #3)

Wed Nov 18, 2015, 10:46 PM

9. But if we're talking about the bad, there's also the Espionage Act of 1917

That's the one that they've thrown at Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden and would like to throw at Julian Assange if they ever get their hands on him.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Espionage_Act_of_1917

President Woodrow Wilson in his December 7, 1915 State of the Union address asked Congress for the legislation:

"There are citizens of the United States, I blush to admit, born under other flags but welcomed under our generous naturalization laws to the full freedom and opportunity of America, who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life; who have sought to bring the authority and good name of our Government into contempt, to destroy our industries wherever they thought it effective for their vindictive purposes to strike at them, and to debase our politics to the uses of foreign intrigue ...

"I urge you to enact such laws at the earliest possible moment and feel that in doing so I am urging you to do nothing less than save the honor and self-respect of the nation. Such creatures of passion, disloyalty, and anarchy must be crushed out. They are not many, but they are infinitely malignant, and the hand of our power should close over them at once. They have formed plots to destroy property, they have entered into conspiracies against the neutrality of the Government, they have sought to pry into every confidential transaction of the Government in order to serve interests alien to our own. It is possible to deal with these things very effectually. I need not suggest the terms in which they may be dealt with."

Congress moved slowly. Even after the U.S. broke diplomatic relations with Germany, when the Senate passed a version on February 20, 1916, the House did not vote before the then-current session of Congress ended. After the declaration of war in April 1917, both houses debated versions of the Wilson administration's drafts that included press censorship. That provision aroused opposition, with critics charging it established a system of "prior restraint" and delegated unlimited power to the president. After weeks of intermittent debate, the Senate removed the censorship provision by a one-vote margin, voting 39 to 38. Wilson still insisted it was needed: "Authority to exercise censorship over the press....is absolutely necessary to the public safety", but signed the Act without the censorship provisions on June 15, 1917, after Congress passed the act on the same day.

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Response to Herman4747 (Reply #3)

Thu Nov 19, 2015, 12:17 AM

14. You should lead with something more impressive.

 

Kissinger and the European Union also won that. Every other year it goes to some politician who doesn't deserve it. It's based on the whim of five retired Norwegian parliamentarians.

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Response to Herman4747 (Reply #3)

Thu Nov 19, 2015, 11:20 AM

24. So did Henry Kissinger

 

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Nov 18, 2015, 10:32 PM

6. I would think that there's some here and now racism which could probably be addressed first.

Unless your intention is just to make headlines.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Nov 18, 2015, 10:40 PM

8. He used troops on strikers comes to mind too


"Wilson" is a good movie. Call it a fantasy.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Nov 18, 2015, 11:05 PM

10. Wilson was probably no more racist than most people from his demographic background in his time

If we place the bar this high on historical scrutiny, soon we're going to be taking down every statue & eliminating every "historical" name that predates 1950.

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Response to Charlie Brown (Reply #10)

Thu Nov 19, 2015, 12:20 AM

15. "Most people."

 

The point surely should be that he was a lot more racist than he could have been in his time. His administration represented a major step back in this regard, purging federal employees who were black. Others of his demographic background were not as bad, they are the ones who should be honored.

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Response to JackRiddler (Reply #15)

Thu Nov 19, 2015, 12:57 AM

20. and they are?

Whom should replace a US President who helped establish the income tax & pitched the League of Nations, the precursor to the UN?

Who are these individuals who are historically more important than Wilson?

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Response to Charlie Brown (Reply #20)

Thu Nov 19, 2015, 06:27 PM

27. No one's questioning Wilson's historical importance.

 

It's a question of the way in which it should be commemorated in public. A straight endorsement of any individual "great man" is almost always going to be a whitewash. This case is no different. I vote for more historical research and popularization of historical complexity, and less in the way of bullshit heroic monumentalization. There should be forms of memorialization that present such figures in their full contexts.

Wilson was a committed "scientific racist" who gave his presidential endorsement to the pro-Ku Klux Klan blockbuster, Birth of A Nation. Deal with it. Why do you want to forget such things? What is your identification with this particular imperialist, as opposed to any other? The League of Nations by the way was an attempt at a concordance of European empires, to maintain these and manage their affairs in a way that avoided future European wars, but did not question European dominance of their colonies. For example, it legitimated the French-British carve-up of the Middle East. Then again, this white man's club was better than the alternative that followed its breakup. Here as well, we would all be served by not heroizing and turning everything into these simplistic narratives of good or bad. Sorry that history's not simple enough.

But if you want it simple, I'd like to see a monument for Eugene Debs, of course. Or the International Workers of the World. Or the dead of Ludlow - appropriate at Princeton with all its buildings named after Rockefellers! You want a hero, look up Louis Tikas. He too was a man of his time - and yet nothing like Professor Wilson. Fancy that.

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Response to JackRiddler (Reply #27)

Wed Nov 25, 2015, 11:12 AM

28. you're selectively singling out Wilson

You decry the "great man" image of wilson, but then cite Debbs, another "great man" who was never put to the test of leadership like Wilson. He probably had antiquated views on a host of issues, too (do you think he supported LGBT equality?)

I could follow suit on your discourse and ask what your views are of John F. Kennedy, another white president who didn't quite live up to expectations on race issues, and left the large battles to be fought by Johnson. JFK had questionable attitudes about women. He also helped author boundary lines and redrew the maps in questionable ways, like in Berlin & Vietnam; the only difference is that he did it to supposedly fight communism. Should we enact this level of scrutiny to his legacy, as well, or Lincoln (didn't support paying AA troops as much as whites) or Carter (a dixiecrat). Wilson's legacy rests on what he accomplished based on where the status quo was at the time & the ideas he had that were enacted by FDR & others. Surely it's better to view the full spectrum of advances he made, via his economic policies & financial reforms, and not merely his reaction to a motion picture that at the time everyone was going to see (it was the first "blockbuster;" unlikely he would have panned it)

We only know about people like Debbs b/c of their legacies as activists and organizers. We don't know what the hay kind of President he would have been. To rest everything about Wilson's record as President on his reaction to Birth of a Nation is just as weak as summing of Bill Clinton b/c of doma.

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Response to Charlie Brown (Reply #28)

Wed Nov 25, 2015, 07:05 PM

29. All history should be subjected to a high level of scrutiny

 

President worship in general is in the spirit of monarchy, not democracy. How particular individuals may live up to "the test of leadership" is, in general, a mystifying concern. It doesn't usually interest me. What actually happened is much more interesting.

Events should be commemorated in all their complexity. I'm arguing for a different historical culture. Princeton should host a Woodrow Wilson museum that tells all these stories. But building names suggest honor without caveats. (Building names also don't actually recall history, often people have no idea who a given personage is.)

Anyway, I suggested Debs (spell his name right, for chrissakes) just to anticipate a possible "what's your alternative?" move. My real alternative would be history education, museums, sponsored research, cultivating a nuanced view with room for debate and evolution. No need to put this guy's name on a building.

I agree that some objections are anachronistic, so your LGBT example with regard to Debs (or Wilson, or anyone else from the time) would a red herring. However, the accusation that Wilson was a committed and published scientific racist and actually made things worse for black people is not anachronistic. Alternative ideas were in circulation at the time, and he was regressive for his time. He doesn't get that excuse.

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Response to Charlie Brown (Reply #10)

Thu Nov 19, 2015, 01:48 AM

21. To be a leader worthy of respect he should be better than "most people"

nt

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Nov 18, 2015, 11:27 PM

11. This is stupid

It's like a diet Red Guards for the diet New Left.

The problem isn't the obvious, and ridiculous, attack on the history they don't like. It's the complete cluelessness on the part of a bunch of entitled Ivy Leaguers. Rather than address something concrete, they deal in symbols. It's as though the thought of an actual contribution to America, rather than worrying about symbols, has never occurred to them. I get why they're doing it. It's because their elders do the same damn thing. We pretend that somehow running a race will cure a disease or doing an obstacle course makes up for buying the Iraq bullshit. We talk about supporting "good causes" without doing shit but self-congratulory crap that immediately gets posted to Facebook. These are just a few examples of our collective inability to deal with reality.

This sort of thing is for the unserious. This is nothing but a self-righteous circle jerk inspired by ridiculous logic. Will it make any kind of appreciable dent in anyone's life? Doubtful as hell. This gets even sillier when put against a movement like BLM. Just contrast the issues. One group is worried about a building and some programs, the other is worried about getting shot. Given that a real opportunity to make a tangible change in non-entitled, non-elite people's lives exists, I just have to shake my head at these kids. Their administration shouldn't take them seriously because they don't take themselves seriously. If they did, they'd be aimed at something a damn sight more real than a symbol.

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Response to MFrohike (Reply #11)

Thu Nov 19, 2015, 07:45 AM

22. Thank-You!

 

Saying what needs to be said!

When observing all this nonsense at the campii, I cant help but think of the college campus scene in China during the Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution. By being at this college, the kids have the opportunity that 99.9% of people will never have. Quit the whining, get your damn education, and do something constructive with your entitled ass.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Nov 18, 2015, 11:38 PM

12. At least his racism stopped affecting the people when he left office

 

He's the monster responsible for the Federal Reserve and the Revenue Act of 1913.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Nov 18, 2015, 11:46 PM

13. 30 people?

Some protest.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Nov 19, 2015, 12:21 AM

16. I support the students but only if the name is changed to the "Ben Carson Institute for

 

The Study of International Affairs."


(Bets on how long before this gets alerted)

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Nov 19, 2015, 12:43 AM

17. "In August, a professor at Yale University cited the racial overtones of the word in asking students

to stop calling him 'master.'"

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Nov 19, 2015, 12:46 AM

18. Schools should also stop giving out Masters degrees.

 

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Nov 19, 2015, 12:46 AM

19. It's not my call

But for myself I see a difference between being named after someone with an historical connection to the school, and otherwise.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Nov 19, 2015, 10:54 AM

23. And in 40 years William Jefferson Clinton will be expunged for his Homophobia

Presentism - presentism is the anachronistic introduction of present-day ideas and perspectives into depictions or interpretations of the past.

At a time when black men were hung for supposedly looking "wrongly" at a white woman. When people were only too happy to remind upity individuals that they were no better than the property they were a few years earlier. IN the context of people living at the time I don't know that he was all that much more racist than the average man. And certainly nowhere near the level that many of the hardcore racists of the day.

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Response to One_Life_To_Give (Reply #23)

Wed Nov 25, 2015, 07:14 PM

30. You are abusing the concept of presentism.

 

Excuse me, many of us here remember 1995 pretty damn well and there would have been nothing whatsoever anachronistic in expecting Clinton to behave like a responsible human being toward his fellow human beings who happened to be gay. The idea of equal rights was entirely current at the time and very easy for a smart guy like him to understand. In fact, pre-election Clinton sang a different tune to the gay community than the presidential version. The difference was not the context of his time but the character of the vote-counting politician, who was out for himself.

Same deal with Wilson, of course, who as president aggressively made the race situation worse than it was before his election, and in the process promoted fairly new for the time convictions of scientific racism. The decorated political scientist also endorsed a movie about how great the KKK was. Oh my, he didn't participate in a lynching, so that makes him just an average guy.

Plenty of people at the time were less partisan on behalf of the racist cause than Wilson. What he did in office was his choice.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Nov 19, 2015, 11:27 AM

25. We should demolish the Jefferson Memorial then. And remove FDR, Jefferson, and Washington

 

from the currency.

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Response to geek tragedy (Reply #25)

Wed Nov 25, 2015, 07:18 PM

31. reducto ad absurdum

 

But the currency idea is good. I'd rather see Duke Ellington, Emily Dickinson and Mark Twain on there, wouldn't you?

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu Nov 19, 2015, 11:50 AM

26. Should the state of Washington change its name?

 

After all, George Washington actually owned black slaves.

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Response to Herman4747 (Reply #26)

Wed Nov 25, 2015, 07:19 PM

32. State of Pacifica is a great name.

 

But you know, there is a difference between how an institution might name its buildings and changing established geographic names that don't actually convey the content (99.99% when people say Washington State they aren't thinking, "ah yes, named after the first president, hallowed be his name," etc. etc.)

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