In the vast effort to purge American history of anything out of step with the milieu of modern progressivism, college leftists have turned their wrath on one of the fathers of their movement: Woodrow Wilson.
The Washington Post reported on Thursday that the Princeton’s Black Justice League demands that Woodrow Wilson’s “racist legacy” be acknowledged and that his name be stripped from Princeton campus buildings.
The Post reported:
The group demanded that the name of Woodrow Wilson, the 28th U.S. president, a segregationist who some believe supported the ideas of the Ku Klux Klan, be removed from a residential college, from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs, and any other buildings — and that his mural be scrubbed from the dining hall.
It is fitting that Wilson now be ejected from the progressive pantheon by his modern decedents with barely a murmur in protest. Radical activists have been remarkably successful in laying siege to nearly every famous Democrat of the past two centuries: old Confederates like Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, the party’s most prominent early leaders Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, and now its most eminent modern philosophical predecessor, Woodrow Wilson.
There is little doubt about the validity of the Princeton’s Black Justice League’s claim; Wilson was certainly a racist—as were many of the Progressives of the early 20th century. Wilson reintroduced segregation in federal departments—including the military—and generally sought to upend America’s deepest principles. Echoing pro-slavery radicals of the mid-19th century, Wilson directed his philosophical attack on the principles of the Founding Fathers, particularly Thomas Jefferson. Wilson suggested that America get “beyond the Declaration of Independence” as well as adopt a “living” Constitution to evolve away from the old, limiting one.
In Wilson’s book, The New Freedom, he explained how broken and ridiculous he found the Founding Father’s ideas of limited government, “checks and balances,” and individual rights.
“The trouble with this theory is that government is not a machine, but a living thing. It falls not under the theory of the universe, but under the theory of organic life. It is accountable to Darwin, not Newton,” Wilson concluded. “All that progressives ask or desire is permission—in an era when ‘development,’ ‘evolution’ is the scientific word—to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle.”
It turns out, modern progressives “evolved” out of their taste for defending the once-venerated Princeton president and greatest champion of their ideas in the 20th century. As Breitbart News’ Allum Bokhari noted, current President of Princeton University Christopher Eisgruber did little more than offer “platitudes” in defense of the school’s most famous president. Eisgruber said of the removal effort: “I appreciate where those demands are coming from. I agree with you, Woodrow Wilson was a racist… In some people, you have good in great measure and evil in great measure.”
Conservatives have little reason to defend or prop up Wilson as modern progressives take a hatchet to the man’s legacy. As absurd as the movement to strip his name from history may be, it is still certainly a good idea for those who desire to preserve American principles and traditions to at least understand the long-term consequences of bad ideas.
This is the legacy of Wilson’s ideals—the “evolving” Social Justice Warrior movement which has waged war on free speech and individual rights in the name of their cause. Progressives are now, fittingly, throwing their own movement’s creators into the ash heap of history.
Follow Jarrett Stepman on Twitter:@JarrettStepman. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.