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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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Judi Lynn Nov 2015 OP
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