Well, I Guess I Called This One

Here is me on November 13

Which gives me the idea that every portrait in a public space of FDR needs to begin by talking about the unconscionable internship of Japanese and every portrait of Wilson needs to start with what an awful racist he was. Time to rename the Wilson school at Princeton!

On November 18, a group of Princeton students occupied the President's office (wow, everything old is new again) and, among their demands was the insistence that the Woodrow Wilson school be renamed because Wilson was a racist.

I have no quibble about calling Wilson a racist.  However, I suggested removing his name mainly because I thought it was one racist the protesters would not challenge.  Wilson was one of the fathers of the Constitutional reinterpretation in the 20th century that allowed the Progressive agenda to go forward at the Federal level, when so much of it wouldn't (and didn't) seem allowable by a straight-forward reading of the Constitution.   Wilson is thus a sort of Godfather to the New Deal and the Great Society and even to Obama's end-runs around the legislature through executive action.


  1. Don:

    This creates the same schadenfreude as the picture of the protester who sets the flag on fire and winds up lighting his own clothes.

  2. kidmugsy:

    This is the first demand from the student revolutionaries with which I have any sympathy. Wilson was an odious fellow who did enormous harm to the world. Off with his name!

  3. mesaeconoguy:


    Wilson was a dangerous asshat. Would that he could be removed from history, as well.

  4. tenaya:

    LINCOLN: how about we remove all references to Abraham Lincoln from the annals of American history. Clearly one of the most bigoted individuals to have held public office in the history of the "republic".

  5. Mercury:

    The bravery and piercing intellect you display by calling a public figure who lived 100 years ago a 'racist' makes me want to nominate you for a Nobel Prize. For fucks' sake, Abraham Lincoln was a racist by today's standards - give this rickety bandwagon a rest already.

    The Japanese were put in concentration camps because of their nationality, not their race (and I believe FDR was against the idea anyway). I don't think the Chinese-Americans were put in the camps too and since they are/were probably put in the same 'race' bucket that also proves my point. Besides, I don't believe all Japanese-Americans were rounded up, but mainly the educated, professional and accomplished ones so, it was really an 'elitist-nationalist' policy. And don't think for one minute that the ex-campers didn't look down their noses at the non-campers after the war...like true Californians!

    Given the super-human cruelty and fanatical imperial/national devotion the Japan-Japanese had been demonstrating in the Pacific theater up to that point, some American paranoia regarding Japanese-Americans' sympathies was somewhat understandable...although given how enthusiastically the mainland Japanese embraced MacArthur after the war that was probably a big miscalculation. German-Americans didn't get put in concentration camps but I think most of those draftees were sent to the Pacific theater on purpose.

    Anyway, I don't know how many round-eyes were living in Japan in December, 1941 but I bet they fared much worse than the Japanese-Americans did. My friend's mom is a retired Lufthansa stewardess who goes to sleep every night beneath a signed publicity photo of the Enola Gay crew. Her large family was brutally murdered by the Japanese in the Dutch Pacific islands where she was born and she ended up spending much of her childhood in a Japanese run concentration camp - three-hots-and-a-cot it was not! And not that three wrongs make a right but all that shit happens in war by definition.

    Capping Asian admission rates in US universities today is technically more explicitly racist than rounding up Japanese=Americans in the 40s'.

  6. Craig Loehle:

    Mercury seems to have missed that coyote was being ironic. Yes, by today's standards, no past heroes can withstand scrutiny, which means we will have to change all the building's names to....what? No one left to name after. It is possible to be a jerk and still be a hero by the standards of the day. Churchill was a jerk in many ways but did a great job saving Britain.

  7. Mercury:

    His suggestion that portrayals of FDR and Wilson should be prefaced by their un-PC sins is ironic, yes. But I think we're now well beyond the point where simply reaching back into history and tagging individuals as "racist" is particularly meaningful or constructive.
    Wilson's proto-fascist enthusiasms and his advocacy of rule-by-expert governance are his most significant legacy.
    And I don't actually mean to ridicule Warren personally (whose efforts I am quite grateful for) but rather some of the arguments and rationale he has put forward or implied.

  8. Not Sure:

    "The Japanese were put in concentration camps because of their nationality, not their race..."

    From Wikipedia...

    "The internment of Japanese Americans in the United States was the forced relocation and incarceration during World War II of between 110,000 and 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry who lived on the Pacific coast in camps in the interior of the country. Sixty-two percent of the internees were United States citizens."

  9. Brotio:

    (and I believe FDR was against the idea anyway)

    Actually, sentencing the Japanese-Americans to concentration camps was done by Roosevelt's Executive Order.

  10. obloodyhell:

    Teddy wasn't much better -- for all his good qualities, he created the first of the alphabet agencies to oversee things at a federal level and introduce people to the idea of a big Federal government as a Real Good Idea to them.

    I think the last TRULY great PotUS we had was his predecessor, Cleveland. He clearly understood the proper sphere of government:

    From the wiki:

    [... In 1887, Cleveland issued his most well-known veto, that of the Texas Seed Bill.] After a drought had ruined crops in several Texas counties, Congress appropriated $10,000 to purchase seed grain for farmers there. Cleveland vetoed the expenditure. In his veto message, he espoused a theory of limited government:

    I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadfastly resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the government, the government should not support the people. The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow-citizens in misfortune. This has been repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.

    His third SOTU, in his first term, was similarly elegant in stating this position of limited government:

    "When we consider that the theory of our institutions guarantees to every citizen the full enjoyment of all the fruits of his industry and enterprise, with only such deduction as may be his share toward the careful and economical maintenance of the Government which protects him, it is plain that the exaction of more than this is indefensible extortion and a culpable betrayal of American fairness and justice ... The public Treasury, which should only exist as a conduit conveying the people's tribute to its legitimate objects of expenditure, becomes a hoarding place for money needlessly withdrawn from trade and the people's use, thus crippling our national energies, suspending our country's development, preventing investment in productive enterprise, threatening financial disturbance, and inviting schemes of public plunder."

  11. obloodyhell:

    }}} Clearly one of the most bigoted individuals to have held public office in the history of the "republic"

    Huh? One hopes you're being sarcastic and facetious.

  12. obloodyhell:

    Was that supposed to confirm or deny the quoted statement?

    It's clear their national history was the cause of the internment, not the actual official citizenship... which was his point.

    Yes, it was wrong, in as much as the Germans did not receive the same treatment. And yes, that was probably racial in nature.

  13. Marcel:

    Sometimes politicians do things for political reasons or because they have been prevailed upon by other powerful interests. I don't think Nixon knew what the hell he was doing or why when he executive-ordered us off the gold standard.